Daily Prompt · writing

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.


CSMA Prompts and Practice · writing

14 December 2013

14 December 2013

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The prompts are:

  1. Santa! I wasn’t expecting you
  2. I put _____ in the fruitcake
  3. Santa just called…

Begin Writing
It was Christmas Eve and I knit my brows and set the phone gently back on the cradle, “Dammit” I muttered.

“What’s the deal? What’s wrong?”  Pamela asked.

“Santa just called.  He told me that he’s moved my name to the ‘Naughty’ list.  I’m telling you Pamela, I – I just don’t need any more coal for Christmas.  That’s all I’ve gotten for the last 17 years.”

“Whatever did you do?” Pamela asked.  “I thought you were pretty good this year”

“I thought so too.  I mean, I built that orphanage in Vietnam, I donated three cars to NPR, and only one of them was stolen.  I gave 4 dozen turkeys and a barrel of root beer to the homeless shelter for thanksgiving dinners and I spent my vacation teaching those troubled teens about drugs, just like the judge asked me to. But, that wasn’t my fault.  There was a communication problem.  He should have been more specific”

“So what’s the deal?” she asked again.

“I think the fat bastard may have found out that I put hashish in the fruitcake.”

“You did what?” Pamela snarled.

“Yeah, I took some liberties with Grandma’s recipe.  I figured it would make spending Christmas with your mother a little more palatable.  She’s the only one who would eat it anyway.”

“Wait,” I think Mom’s passed out at the table.  Maybe no one’s eaten any of the fruitcake.  Maybe we can get it back before anyone has a piece.  Santa will have to put your name back on the ‘Nice’ list if no one eats it, right.  No harm, no foul!  Right?”

“Let’s go check” I said hopefully.

We headed for the dining room and I peeked around the door jamb.  There was Mom, her head resting on her mashed potatoes, the knuckles of her fingers glowed white as she clutched the tumbler of Four Roses that stood next to her dinner plate.  There was a lot of gravy in her hair.  She was going to be a joy in the morning.

Pamela jabbed me in the ribs with her elbow.  She was pointing towards the sideboard.  There sat the tainted fruitcake.  It looked like it was all still there.  I straightened up and nonchalantly walked into the dining room.  I nodded my head at my useless brother in law, “Hey Jimbo.  You ready for some coffee?”

“Why? Are you out of booze?” he sneered and looked back at Uncle Billy.  The exchanged a high five and both looked smugly back at me, waiting for an answer.

“Let me go check, I think there’s still some Jagermeister in the fridge.” I said and I scooped up the fruit cake, turned on my heel, and headed for the kitchen.  Pamela was already there.

Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

A small crowd today allowed us one more prompt and 15 additional minutes to write.  I elected to continue the story started above.

The prompt was:

  1. Neat as a pin

Begin Writing
“No one has had any yet” I said to her.  “Where can we hide this?”

“I’ll take it upstairs and stash it under the bed” Pamela said.  “You and I can use it to ring in the New Year.”

Sweet, I thought.  Now how do I get word to Santa?  I gotta get off that ‘Naughty’ list.

Just then there was a tapping on the kitchen window.  I looked over and there he stood.  The Jolly Old Elf himself.  Good I need to talk to him.  I reached over the sink and opened the window.  “Santa! I wasn’t expecting you.”  I said, “We’re all still awake.  Well, all of us except Mom, she got a bit tired.”

He touched the side of his nose and seemed to move effortlessly through the window.  He was suddenly standing next to me. His beard and suit were as neat as a pin.  “Ho, ho, ho” he said, and his belly shook when he laughed.

“Aren’t you supposed to come down the chimney?” I asked.

“You don’t have a fireplace.” he answered “Give me the fruitcake Thom.”

“Santa, there might be some Jagermeister in the fridge.  Or wait, wouldn’t you rather have some cookies and milk?” I asked.  “Pam and I sort of have plans for the fruitcake.”

“Ok” he sighed.  “I’ll just go put this lump of coal in your stocking.  Where is your stocking this year?” he asked.

“Wait Santa!”

Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.


21 September 2013

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21 September 2013

The prompts are:

1. She studied her face in the mirror
2. It’s Christmas Day and it’s like 80 degrees
3. They had obviously confused movement with progress
Begin writing

Beatrice woke up and rolled over in the bed.  Slowly opening her eyes a crack she determined it was light outside.  She snapped her eyes shut again, groaned and pulled the blanket over her head.  Eventually she recognized the futility of trying to go back to sleep and tossing the covers back she sat on the edge of the bed.  She groped her way to the bathroom, splashed water on her face and studied her appearance in the mirror.  Not too bad she thought those bags under my eyes are hardly noticeable.

As she began looking around, she slowly registered the fact that except for her own face in the mirror, nothing else looked familiar.

“Huh,” she said aloud to herself, “what have I gotten into this time?  Where am I?”

“You’re at my house in Kauai” a white bearded man answered, sticking his head around the door frame.

“OK,” she said, “You look familiar but who are you and how did I get to your house in Kauai?  The last thing I remember I was in Minneapolis.”

“That’s right,” he said, “Do you remember any more?”

Beatrice reached into her memory and found a few scraps that seemed recent.  “I think I dropped the boys at the rink for hockey practice and then went to the market to do some last minute shopping for Christmas dinner.”

“Ho ho,” said the bearded man, smiling “I wasn’t sure if you would remember or not.  Sit down and let me fill in some blanks for you.”

She nodded her head and perched on the edge of the toilet waiting expectantly.  The large white haired guy leaned against the door frame; he was big but in pretty good shape for an old man.  He was wearing a red tank top and board shorts.  “You are at my retreat in Kauai” he stated.

“Wait a minute, we didn’t…?” she began.

“No, no, we didn’t do that.  Now where was I? Ah yes, today is the first day of my vacation.  It’s Christmas day and I’ve been working all night.  I always take a couple of weeks off after Christmas Eve.  You know, before I go back up north and get to work again.”

Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper


April 2013

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06 April 2013

The prompts were:
1. The welcoming committee
2. Wicked attraction
3. Rainbow, X-Ray Glasses, Stapler

Begin writing
It was a clear day but the air I was breathing belied that.  Cars and trucks rushed by, mere inches from the toes of my boots.  Bus stops are places where I hang out a lot these days.  Not really by choice, more a matter of necessity.  When the bus is your primary mode of transportation you tend to spend a lot of time in bus stops.  It was beginning to grow on me however.  I found it fascinating to study my fellow passengers.
Today there was one other gentleman hunkered down in the shelter that covered the bench.  He was wearing bunny slippers and a large, hairy thrift store coat with a fur lined hood pulled over his head.  I thought he was talking on the phone but, it turns out, he was just talking to himself and chuckling.  Hmm, maybe telling himself jokes he had never heard before.   I approached the bench when I arrived at the stop.  He jumped up and pulled a stapler from his greatcoat pocket.  Brandishing the stapler like a weapon he screamed unintelligibly at me.  I put up my hands and backed away a couple of steps.Returning the stapler to his pocket he sat back down and watched me from the corner of his eye.
“This guy has a larger than average personal space,” I thought but, he seemed calm now.  My grandfather had taught me that discretion was the better part of valor so, I determined to respect this man’s foibles and give him his space.
The number 6 bus chose that moment to arrive.  I noticed that overnight new ads had been placed on the side.  The dark and foreboding illustrations of vampires and seductive young people had been replaced by a sickening tableau of pink and yellow teddy bears, rainbows, unicorns and princesses.  I almost decided to wait for the next bus.  What if someone I knew spotted me on this conveyance.  I would be the laughing stock for weeks.
I looked around furtively and the coast was clear so I hurried on to the bus anyway.  The risky times would only be boarding and exiting.  If it looked like I would be spotted getting off, I would simply stay on for one more stop.  Nobody but other riders notice who’s aboard when the bus is moving.
I dropped my token into the thing that you drop your tokens into and turned toward the back of the coach.  I began walking slowly aft, making sure everyone got a good look at me.  I was strutting and swaggering, looking left and right.  The people I looked at all began to fidget.  They would turn slightly or lift their packages to their laps, clutch books and bags closer to their chests, cover up.  I tried to look tough and menacing but had to smile.  This always happens when I wear my X-Ray glasses on the bus.
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

That was fun.  There were only 5 of us at the meeting today so we decided to have another go at it.  This time we all wrote from a single prompt – time was limited to 15 minutes.

The prompt was:
1. What he/she left behind was indescribable

Begin writing
It seemed like yesterday.  Maybe because it was yesterday.  Today was Boxing Day.  Yesterday had been Christmas.  The family was all coming to our house for a proper Christmas feast.  Annabelle, my new bride, was nervous.  Her mother was coming and so was my new deadbeat brother in law, Andrew.  My Aunt Sally and her husband would be there but they would be late.  They were always late.
The decorations had been fussed with until everything was perfect.  Santa had come the night before and what he had left behind was indescribable.  Not because it was either horrible, or spectacular but, because I could not, for the life of me, figure out what it was.
I mean, I could describe it up to a point.  I could identify that it was large, rectangular, red and blue.  I could tell you that it was covered with a symphony of switches, buttons dials, levers and flashing lights but, that only works up to a point.  I could not describe it’s purpose.  I could not describe it’s use.  I could not understand it.
Andrew knew what it was though.  Or, at least he pretended to know.  He said something about the new ionizing proactive spectrum generator and asked how I liked it.  Before I could answer he lifted a panel at one end and slipped inside.  Quickly Annabelle reached over, flipped a latch on the panel, toggled two switches and pulled a lever.  A small puff of smoke came from around the panel through which Andrew had entered and the thing was silent.
I looked inquiringly at Annabelle.  “Yep,” she said, “and unlike Andrew, it works.”
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

13 April 2013
The prompts were:
1. The person in the mirror was not who I expected
2. Grandma’s Cottage
3. Being human

Begin writing
I sat down at the long wooden bar and waved at the bartender for a beer.  He nodded and I watched him in the mirror as he made his way down to the taps to draw me a cool one.  What the hell was I doing?  Why was I here?  This is the act of a desperate man wasn’t it?  Was I a desperate man?
Being human is confusing.  Internet dating is frightening.  In strict adherence to the couples.com policy no photos had been exchanged.  I had no idea what Ms. X was going to look like or how old she was.  Nothing.  But, she was in the same boat.  She knew nothing of me either.  The computer had analyzed the data we had submitted and determined we would be compatible.  I had received an email from couples.com counselor, Pat Greenly advising me to be at this bar, Grandma’s Cottage, of April 13th at 7:00pm.  I was to wear a navy blue blazer with a green handkerchief tucked in the breast pocket.  I was to meet Ms. X here.  I would recognize her by the flower she would be wearing.  A red hyacinth would be tucked behind her ear.
Grandma’s Cottage was decorated like a Marie Callendars or a Mimi’s Cafe. Strange motif for a bar.  I had already scoped out the patrons when I arrived.  Not a red flower to be seen so I kept my eye on the mirror where I could watch the door.  The door opened and I found I was holding my breath anxiously waiting to see who came in.  It was a tall man in a red cardigan.  I breathed a bit easier when I saw he was not wearing any red flowers.
“This is crazy,” I thought and stood to leave.  “What was I thinking when I agreed to this?”  Just then, light flooded the bar and I looked at the long mirror again.  The person in the mirror was not who I expected.  It was Elizabeth, my ex-wife.  She still looked good.  I hadn’t seen her in years.  There had always been a strong physical attraction between us, but emotional and intellectual conflict had proven stronger than lust and we had agreed to separate.  No kids, no communal property, no complications.  It had been easy to do.
Then I noticed the flower she pulled from her bag and tucked quickly behind her ear.  I tucked my handkerchief deeper into my breast poked and ducked my head.  I headed to the back
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

20 April 2013

No meeting today.  I thought I would give it a try on my own.  I made up a prompt and gave myself 25 minutes.

The prompt was:
1.The devil dances in empty pockets

Begin writing
My name is William Potts.  They are going to kill me today.
I was a poor farmer with a few acres just outside of Spotsville when I met Lucinda.  She was a young girl with a slender waist, firm breasts and pale alabaster skin. Her hair was as black as tar and her eyes were blinding, like looking at the sun.  Her smile? … well when she looked up and smiled at me I was done for.

They will hang me tonight when the sun drops behind those mountains and the shadows are long.  They should be hanging Lucinda as well.

I wasn’t enough for Lucinda.  She could never be a farmer’s wife but, I had to have her.  The devil dances in empty pockets and my desire was strong.  I had no money but I had my land.  I sold my land in a futile attempt to buy her favor.  I learned too late that she was not the kind of girl who coveted money or jewels.  She craved adventure, she craved danger.  I craved Lucinda – so we took the money I got for the farm and headed west in search of our destiny.  California, San Francisco, and we were down to our last.  Lucinda could not be kept by a pauper and I could sense her slipping away.  Desperation helped me to recognize that the old man was a target of opportunity.  As luck would have it, he died easily and yielded a saddlebag of gold.  I learned that there were lots of miners in San Francisco, ripe for the pickin’.  Lucinda and I were a good team.  She would bat her eyes and I would bash their heads.  For her, the accumulation of wealth was secondary to the thrill of the kill.  After a successful night Lucinda’s passion was unbridled and my lust would be stilled.  But, she preferred the hunt, the action, the murder.  I however, had a single goal.  Keep Lucinda happy.

Seeking further adventure we kept moving.  I acquired a clipper ship from an out of luck captain in a gambling den.  At Lucinda’s urging we took our gold, hired a crew, and sailed to China.  We found an unlimited supply of Chinese business men who were willing to trade opium, fireworks, silk and tea for the gold we had brought.  We also learned that those same Chinese businessmen wanted whiskey, women and guns even more than they wanted gold.  A red haired whore would fetch a good price on the waterfront in Shanghai.  We were in the trading business.  We had found a demand that we could fill and I had found a way to keep Lucinda excited and happy.  She was transported to another level when there was a storm.  Or when someone needed killing.  A bit of piracy came easily and we
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.


27 April 2013

The prompts were:
1. Timing was everything
2. A different world
3. Then the man next to me on the train…

Begin writing
The platform was crowded but then, Shinjuku always is, and when the platform is crowded the train will be as well.  The Shinkansen from Tokyo to Matsumoto was about a three hour trip and the trains are always on time.  Timing is everything in Japan – Schedules are important.  I had landed at Narita last night.  Too late to get to Nagano, I spent the night in Tokyo. I’ll take the train today.  What a trip.  I drove to the KC airport and parked.  Flew to San Francisco to catch a connection to Narita.  The Limousine Bus took me from the airport to the City Center and I walked to the hotel.  All I need to do now is work in a bike ride.

The train arrived and passengers exited out the other side.  I looked around me and thought about where I was.  This sure isn’t Kansas Toto, this is a different world.  Everything is different.  Not better, not worse, just different.  The doors opened and we began filing onto the cars.  I had an assigned seat and I made my way to it.

Matsumoto is in Nagano Prefecture, high in the mountains.  My fellow passengers represented a good cross section of Japanese society.  There were old people, young people, men, women, businessmen and holiday merry makers.  I always see mountain climbers on this train.  Dressed for hiking with sturdy boots and walking sticks.  Matsumoto is a special city. The Jo is a popular attraction and short side trips can take a sightseer to Lake Suwa or to any number of ski lodges, resorts, museums, or restaurants.  Plenty to do for a short getaway.  The businessmen probably worked for or with Epson or Sankyo.  Both companies have major production facilities in the area.

We had been traveling about an hour when the man next to me on the train first spoke.  He spoke in Japanese so I was unable to understand and indicated as much.  I apologized and said, “I’m sorry but I do not speak Japanese.  Do you speak English?”

“A little bit” he answered and pointed out the train window.  “It is a clear day.  Look, you can see Fujiyama.”  He was right.  It was a postcard view.  The peak seemed to float as it rose out of the mist in the distance.

“It is beautiful” I said.  He nodded and told me, “In two days I will go to Fujiyama to climb.”
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.