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Daddy’s Girl

Roberta lay awake in her room listening to the sounds of the TV, downstairs where her parents watched late-night talk shows. At 11:00, she heard Johnny and Ed saying good night. Then her parents turned off the television. Her dad checked the locks on the doors as her mother trudged to the master bedroom that overlooked the back garden at the rear of the second floor. She feigned sleep when her mom looked in on her and listened through the thin walls. Mom went into the bathroom, peed, flushed the toilet and washed her hands. It wasn’t long after that when she heard her father flick off the porch light and spring up the stairs to repeat the same bathroom routine as his wife.

She listened to her parents argue for a while, but neither of them must have been invested in the fight, it drifted off pretty fast. Roberta listened with her eyes open as the night settled on the house like a stone . Now was where her plan got tricky. There was no room for mistakes. After an interminable amount of time, she crawled from the bed and slowly opened the door to the hallway. Staying close to the wall, she crept to her parents’ door and put her ear against it. There was no light coming from beneath the door, a good sign. She could hear her mother snoring faintly. There was no noise from her father. It was now or never.

Back in her bedroom, Roberta pulled on her jeans and an old peasant blouse that had belonged to her mother. She put on her black wool pea coat and pulled a ball cap low over her eyes. She rummaged under the bed and pulled out her old backpack. It was a pink one with a Nike swoosh. She stuck her hand inside and made sure it was empty. Then she crept all the way downstairs to her father’s workbench in the basement. The work light came on when she turned the switch. In its glow, she knelt to operate the Master Lock on the old grey school locker where dad kept his girlie magazines. She pulled out the stack of dog-eared pornography and set it on the concrete floor. Reaching deep into the locker, she felt what she was looking for. So she began pulling out the pipe bombs that her father had been assembling for the last few weeks. She placed them in her pink backpack. There were fifteen of them. Each was about six inches long and heavier than she had expected.

Another look in the locker revealed a thick envelope stuffed full of hundred-dollar bills. There was also a plastic sandwich bag, filled with marijuana. There were three or four already rolled joints in the bag and a pack of rolling papers. Roberta had seen people roll cigarettes before. Her grandma did it all the time, but Roberta had never done it herself. Oh well, she could learn. She stuffed the cash and the dope into the pockets of her coat, climbed back up the stairs and out the front door, into the night.

It was a four-mile walk to the Starbucks on Central, but Roberta was in a hurry and made it in about forty-five minutes. It wasn’t crowded. She put her backpack on a chair near the front door and meandered over to the counter to order coffee in a paper cup. Keeping the bill of her cap low and looking down as much as possible, Roberta ordered a single espresso and avoided small talk with the barista.

The espresso was delicious, and she gulped about half of it down before standing and leaving through the front door. She didn’t think anyone had seen her go. Moving fast but careful not to draw attention to herself, she hurried away from the coffee shop. It was another three miles to the Greyhound terminal. Chubby’s all-night diner was about half the way there. There was still a phone booth outside Chubby’s, where she called the cops to report a bomb in the Starbucks.

There was a bus getting ready to leave for Eugene when Roberta breezed through the doors of the station. She bought a ticket from the old man at the counter. He wore plastic-framed glasses low on his nose, a green visor on his head and had a non-filter cigarette tucked behind his ear. He barely looked up at her. She showed her ticket to the driver, who punched a hole in it before making her way to the back of the bus. She slumped low and made herself small in a window seat. She got off the bus in Roseburg where she pulled her hair back into a high, tight ponytail and bought another ticket, heading back south.

It took almost a full day to get to Los Angeles from Roseburg.

Uncategorized

Pinot Noir

Dinner had been a beer-marinated Tri-tip With Blue Cheese, Wild Mushrooms, Onions, and freshly baked sourdough bread, heavily buttered.
Lynette served it all with an American Pinot Noir from Sonoma. She had Beignets & Berries served as dessert and had even piped a berry whipped cream into the Beignets. He could tell that she had put a lot of thought into the meal. He almost regretted his plan to kill her. First, though, he wanted to talk more, maybe a coffee. He thought espresso would finish the meal perfectly.
Lynette left for the kitchen to make coffees, and when she came back to the table with two demitasse cups of thick brew, he was beginning to look tired. She mentioned it.
“Yeah,” he slurred, “I’m not sure why. The meal was fantastic. You’re a great cook, Lynette.”
“Listen to me. I know why you are feeling tired. It’s because I put Tetradotoxin in that fine California wine. Did you enjoy it?”
His head nodded and sagged. He began to drool, just a bit. Looking even weaker; his head dropped more as he tried to pull his 9mm from its tooled leather shoulder holster. Lynette leaned over the table and helped him retrieve the gun, but she held on to it. He stared at her with questioning eyes as she released the clip and ejected the round that he had chambered.
“Why Lynette?” he mumbled.
“Why?” she parroted back at him, “Why? Because it would have been messy to shoot you and even worse if I had used a knife. I’ve cleaned up enough of your messes. I don’t want to do that anymore.” She watched his head sink and slowly rest on the table. She finished her coffee before reaching over and taking his cup too. She sipped and smiled to herself. She watched as he died, his breathing becoming more and more irregular until it finally ceased altogether.

Carrot Ranch · writing

Angel on the Bridge

I wrote this for the May 30th Flash Fiction Challenge



I met Lavinia in early July
at The Angel on the Bridge
in Henley,
where I came to see the regatta.

I was smitten

I sought to impress
To ply her with food
Strawberries, cream, and a sprig of mint

She turned up her nose

I strove to impress
by quoting the Bard,
Demetrius in Titus Andronicus,
“She is Lavinia, therefore must be loved”

She laughed as I obviously knew not the story

I hoped to impress with my wealth
Alas, I had no wealth, but
She sat with me on the riverbank
She took my hand
She smiled


The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes strawberries and mint. The combination evokes color contrast, scents, and taste. Where will the combination take you? Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch · writing

Titanic, The Maiden Voyage

I wrote this for the May 23rd Flash Fiction Challenge



Birdie stood at the top deck railing smiling and waving; holding her hat in the breeze. Edward stood stoically nearby, as he imagined a new husband should do.

While the crew cast off lines and got underway Birdie turned to Edward, “I’m terrified. What if the weather takes a turn and the ship flounders?”

“Rest assured, darling,” he replied, “We’re aboard the pride of the White Star Line, she’s unsinkable.” They retired to their stateroom, where Birdie remained, panicked, for the duration of the voyage.”

Eight days later the newlyweds disembarked in New York and began their life together.


The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story without ice. It can be a world without ice or a summer camp that runs out of cubes for lemonade. What does the lack mean to the story? Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch · writing

Planning a Poem

I wrote this for the May 16th Flash Fiction Challenge



The hour is early – predawn.

The clouds – vanished,

the storm – over,

the moon – full.

I shiver by the back window, listening to some nameless chanteuse croon and confess from the confines of the FM dial.

Warming my hands on a cup of tea, I watch the last two leafs in the tree.

They dance in the moonlight. Embracing, spinning, reaching – enjoying one another.

Caressing like lovers until one falls away; surrendering to the pressure of the wind and the weight of the clinging raindrops.

The fallen leaf touches down. I pore over archaic words and phrases, planning a poem.


The prompt:  In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes in search of trees. It can be one particular tree, a grove, woods, or forest. What makes the tree worth seeking? Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch · writing

More Strength Than Meets the Eye

I wrote this for the May 2nd Flash Fiction Challenge



It is born from bitter winter cold
Not a nip or chill, but a biting, vicious cold
A cold that comes with long, nights, and
Northern lights
It has nothing to do with gain
It’s about diving into the water
Simply for the sake of it
It’s about laughing in the face of tragedy
It’s about mocking and defeating whatever adversity is thrown your way
Always getting up
Something akin to, yet more than,
Dogged perseverance
Intensity that thrives in the long days of summer

You are stronger than any one of us, or even you, could ever imagine


The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sisu. It’s a Finnish concept of enduring strength, the ability to consistently overcome. Think long-term. Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch · writing

Exhausted

I wrote this for the April 25th Flash Fiction Challenge



“Raul, please rest. You can’t help us if you’re dead.”

“I’m sorry, Alondra. I have to finish before the rains come.”

She shook her head and returned to the house, where she made a big jar of Sandia Agua Fresca. Then she made Pambazos and wrapped them in a napkin, to keep him going. He was bleary-eyed when she returned with the food.

“Raul, you need to rest.” She took his hand and led him to the cool shade of a large Alamo tree. They ate. They made love in the dappled sunshine. Afterwards, she watched him sleep, exhausted.


The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes exhaustion. Who is exhausted and why? Can you make art of exhaustion? Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch · writing

A Question of Identity

I didn’t write this for the April 18th Flash Fiction Challenge
I wrote it as part of a longer story in 2014.
Guess what? Ninety-nine words exactly.
I think it kinda fits the prompt, in a tangential kinda way.
I’m gonna roll with it, if it’s OK with you, Charli.



Jimmy and Nancy continued to go steady for about three more days after the party.  A year after high school Jimmy managed to secure some venture capital and founded a software company in San Jose.  There’s a scholarship fund named after him now. Nancy works at the Speedy Mart.

Tito never came back from Vietnam, still MIA.

Becky is the Assistant DA of Lincoln County and has been in a committed relationship with Samantha Christian since she got out of law school.  Samantha is a stay at home mom, taking care of the two boys she and Becky adopted.


The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about gender. It can be fixed or fluid. Explore the topic on your own terms and open your mind to possibilities and understanding. Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch · Poetry · writing

Restoration of Hope

  I wrote this for the April 11th Flash Fiction Challenge



He didn’t hold a sign or jingle a cup with a few coins.
He wasn’t selling apples or matches, or singing street music.
He sat with his eyes closed in the chill evening air; had his blanket pulled tight.
So, he didn’t see her approaching from across the road.
“Hey,” she said to catch his attention.
When he looked up at her he was startled.
She was well dressed, but looked stern, the way his teachers had done.
He took the white paper bag that she proffered.
“It’s warm,” he said.
She simply nodded, turned around and walked away.


Follow the hyperlink at the top of the page to find out what the prompt was. Take a tour of Carrot Ranch while you’re there. You might want to have a go at the challenge. You might not. You have choices. Thanks, Charli; this was a good one.

Carrot Ranch · Poetry · writing

Owls and Auks

  I wrote this for the March 28th Flash Fiction Challenge



He chose to stand atop a grand eminence, banked by steep outcroppings; a sentry, ever vigilant who watches over the Pacific.  He has stood this post for more than fifteen hundred years. He is a giant towering over 300 feet high. He is massive, with a base of more than 30 feet in diameter. A Giant Coastal Redwood, a landmark with owls and auks living amongst his branches.

I come here to admire him from time to time. I always come alone. I am humbled.

Majestuoso y eminente, por derecho propio, es bien conocido a lo largo de esta costa.


The prompt and instructions were:

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses the word eminence. It’s a rich word full of different meanings. Explore how it sounds or how you might play with it. Go where the prompt leads!