Daily Prompt · Random Scribbles · writing

That’s a Sign!

ODP



Tina was soaked. The downpour came without warning and was relentless. She knew that her chances of flagging a cab were nil so she ducked through a red vinyl covered door. There was a sign on the door “The Three Little Pigs”. She stood just inside and waited for her eyes to adjust to the gloom. This was her kind of place. It was a drinker’s bar. It was fortuitous, maybe even serendipitous that she had happened in here. Dark paneling lined the walls with a couple of neon signs back by the pool table. A grey ghost of smoke obscured the ceiling in defiance of the smoking ban. Green lights glowed beneath a mirror that ran the full length of the room behind the bar. A myriad of rainbow colored bottles sat on glass shelves and there were seven or eight customers sitting at the bar, staring into their drinks, munching peanuts. Charlie Rich sang softly from the juke box on the back wall.

She looked back out the small diamond shaped window in the door, deciding. The rain was still coming down hard. -HIC- oh great, now she had the hiccups to top it all off.

Tina made her way to the bar where she had a choice of sitting next to a grey haired woman taking up two stools or a younger guy with long blonde hair. She looked at the woman who had the pallid skin of someone who never ventured into the sunlight. Her hair was tangled and there were dark stains on her maroon print dress. Her black knit sweater had a hole in the elbow and was frayed at the cuffs. Tina sidled up to the stool next to the young guy.

“-HIC- is this seat taken?”

He looked at her, stared at her, with one eye. The patch he wore over the other was mostly hidden in the shadow below his brow. He shook his head, “go ahead,” he mumbled.

“- HIC -,” she sat down and raised her finger to signal the barman.

“Can I get a whiskey, neat, with a water back?” She knew she shouldn’t do this but she had no willpower, no resistance.

The barman nodded and shuffled towards the bottles on the back of the bar. She watched him reach for the cheap stuff and decided she didn’t care. She hadn’t had a drink in three years, what did she care what kind it was – as long as it was.

“Can you put the water in a tall -HIC- glass?”

He nodded, poured two fingers of brown liquor into a highball glass and ran some water in tumbler, he brought them both to her, tossed a napkin on the bar, “Seven dollars,” he said as he sat both glasses in front of her.

Rummaging in her purse she set a 50 on the bar, “keep ‘em comin’ -HIC-.”

Tina’s hand wavered back and forth between the water and the whiskey, -HIC- she grabbed the whiskey and drained it in a single draught. Then she picked up the water glass, took a deep breath, held her nose and drained it too. She set it back on the bar and looked around expectantly, anxiously. “Cool,” she said aloud to herself, “it worked.” She smiled, “-HIC- shit, it didn’t work.” She frowned and signaled the bartender for another, “-HIC-“ they seemed to be getting worse. When her drinks came she followed the same routine again.

“Excuse me, ma’am?” said the pirate looking guy sitting next to her. He wore a camel hair sport coat, a white dress shirt, and a tie.

She looked at him, “-HIC-“

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m planning on getting plastered and -HIC- getting rid of these hiccups.”

“Well, you’re going about it all wrong.” He said. “You’re doing ok on the getting plastered part, but that’s no way to get rid of the hiccups.”

“Everybody’s got a cure.” She said disgustedly, “What should I be doing differently, in your opinion -HIC- huh?”

He leaned his barstool back a bit and squinted his one eye, studying her. Finally he said, “That Charlie Rich sure could sing, couldn’t he?”

“What? -HIC- yeah, I guess.”

“My name’s Ken,” he said and stuck his hand out to shake.

Tentatively, she shook his hand, “Tina, -HIC-.” She introduced herself.

“Nice to meet you Tina.” He signaled the barman to bring her another round. “When was the last time you saw a rabbit?”

“What kind of -HIC- question is that, Ken?”

“Hey, humor me will ya? When was the last time you saw a rabbit?”

“I don’t know. Three -HIC- or four weeks ago.”

“What kind?”

“Brown.”

“Boy or girl?”

“Don’t know.”

“Choose one!”

“Boy -HIC-“

“Where was it?”

“Out past the cemetery on Boulder Creek Road.”

“Where was he going?”

“Don’t know.”

“Make something up!”

“He was going home. He was a widower rabbit and he had gone to put flowers on his poor departed wife’s grave. Then he was going home to feed the kids and watch some TV.”

“What kind of shows does he watch?”

“Sitcoms mainly. He likes wrestling too. I think he wanted to have a beer after he put the kids to bed.”

Ken stood up and put some bills on the bar. “I gotta go Tina. I enjoyed talking to you. How’re those hiccups?”

Tina paused, put her fingertips on her chest, just below her throat, and raised her eyes, waiting. Nothing.

Ken pulled the door open and stepped out into the sunshine. It looked like the rain was over.

As the door swung shut behind him she yelled, “They’re gone Ken. They’re gone.” She grabbed her purse and chased him out the door. She looked left and right. Up and down the street but Ken was gone too. Turning her collar up, she headed for the station and thought about the one eyed man as she rode the train home.

Daily Prompt · Random Scribbles · writing

Word Association #3

ODP



 

Eggar pulled the door of the fridge open, leaned down and peered inside. “Edna, wha’ we got to eat?”

“Ain’t much Eggar, we might got some hamfat ‘n grits though.”

Eggar smiled when he heard there’s grits in the fridge and he increased the intensity with which he continued pokin’ through the bowls, and bags that filled the wire shelves. The little light went off. He cursed and thumped it till it came back on.

On the bottom shelf he finally saw the shallow blue bowl with the chip on the rim. There was a gelatinous mess o’ grits heaped in it. Next to it was a slab of ham. He grabbed ’em both and stood. With a twist of his waist he hip checked the ‘frigerator door and closed it. Then he sat the food on the counter and pulled his po’ dead momma’s old cast iron skillet down from the hook over the stove. An Ohio Blue Tip match ignited easily when he drug his thumbnail over the tip and he used it to light the burner

With the fish knife he always wore on his belt he carved a ½ inch thick ring of fat off the ham an’ tossed it in the skillet. It began to sizzle and render. Then he turned to the bowl full of congealed grits and sliced it up, long thin slices, a little over a quarter inch thick.

Eggar rolled himself a smoke and lit it on the burner. He leaned back ‘gainst the chipped white tile countertop and smoked while he waited. His fish knife layin’ on the stove.

When the grease was hot and coated the bottom of the pan he lifted out four slices of grits with his knife and laid them gently in the skillet. Pushing them around  till he made room for one more then he laid that in too.

When it was time he turned ‘em and as soon as both sides were browned he hollered fer his wife agin. “Edna, y’all want some fried grits?”

“I ain’t got time for that shit right now Eggar. I’m gettin’ ready fer church.”

“Hopin’ y’all ud say that,” he muttered under his breath and upended the skillet over a single plate.

He tugged up his trousers and shoved stuff across the grey Formica table top making ’nuff room fer himself to sit down and eat.


 

Ten min write – ten min edit. Thanks ODP.

Daily Prompt · Random Scribbles · Uncategorized · writing

Picture Prompt #9

ODP dali-melting-time-clock



“Quick, we’re gonna be late.” Uncle Sal said breathlessly. He grabbed my hand and literally dragged me behind him, my feet barely touching the floor. We got to the garage door and he let me stand. He waved his walking stick and said, “I’ll start the car. You better go pee. Once we start, we won’t be stopping till we get there.”

“OK, I said and started towards the bathroom. “Where are we going?” I hollered over my shoulder as I unzipped.

“We’re supposed to meet your dad in Lincoln at 10:30. It’s already a quarter after.”

“Uncle Sal, it’s not even nine yet! We got lots of time.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, I’m looking at my watch. Did yours melt again?”

“Uh huh, and it slid right off the dresser. The damn hands must have floated around to a different position. I hate it when that happens.”

I finished and zipped my trousers back up. Washing my hands I said, “We can still leave now, if you want. You’re gonna need a new pocket watch anyway. Maybe you should get a gold one this time. The silver ones don’t seem to be working out too well for you.”

Twisting the ends of his mustache he said, “Let’s go then nephew. I like the silver ones though, they go better with my walking stick.” He shrugged his shoulders, took my hand and opened the garage door. We got in his car to head towards Lincoln. We had plenty of time to buy a new watch and still meet Dad.


 

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Random Scribbles · writing

Objects in a Box #1

ODP



 

When my mother passed away several years ago the only family she had left was my sister and I. It was incumbent upon us therefore, to sort through her life; keeping bits and pieces for ourselves, selling some parts to strangers at an estate sale and in galleries. We gave small mementos to many of her friends and donated whatever remained to charity.

I managed to keep both of the self portraits she had done, one she did in college (watercolor) and the other when she was in her 80’s (pen and ink with a sepia tone wash). I got some samples of her pottery and her textiles. My sister kept a couple of oil paintings, and a lot of the dishes she had made. She also laid claim to the big Hammett loom and my mom’s watercolor brush.*

In the course of cleaning and emptying, I came across a box tucked behind some framing in the attic and sealed with packing tape. It was bigger than a shoe box but smaller than a bread box. Scrawled across the top of the box, in my mom’s hand was the name, Beth.

After my mother and father got their divorce, my mother had entered into a string of relationships. None of them panned out very well for her but they kept her happy while they lasted. Beth was the first lover my mother took and they lasted almost seven years. I think that she and Beth truly loved one another, but Beth came with baggage that would eventually rend the bonds that tied them together. Beth had an ex-husband who was a cop. He had that cop machismo thing and couldn’t really accept the fact that his wife would leave him for another woman. She had three daughters in high school and a son who was unable to hold a job. He dabbled with drugs and loved alcohol more than anything else in the world. I hadn’t seen Beth in thirty years and here, in front of me, was a box with her name on it.

I carried it downstairs, set it on the counter in the otherwise empty kitchen and stared at it. My sister was finishing up in the basement and I debated calling her but decided not to. I used my pocket knife to cut the tape and looked inside the carton. I saw balled up newspapers, obviously packing material, dunnage. I dug through until I found a hand colored photograph of a woman in a thin silver frame, the kind with a prop so you could stand it on a table. The woman had curly dark hair, worn short, and she was dressed in an Army uniform with corporal’s stripes. There were a few unrecognizable medals over the left pocket. She held a rifle at port arms and wore a stern look on her face. I didn’t recognize her but knew it wasn’t Beth or my mother. I set it aside and dug deeper in the box.

The next thing I found was a clutch; I think that’s the right name for it. It was a small bag with a folded over top, held shut with a brass snap. The kind of thing a woman would have carried with an evening dress. It was intricately beaded with small gold, black, and green glass beads shaped like little tubes. The design was geometric and made me think of Frank Lloyd Wright. It contained only one thing: a dried up tube of lipstick. The bottom of the tube read ‘Crimson’. There was nothing else in the bag but there was more in the box.

I pulled out a Mark Twain novel with an inscription I couldn’t read, maybe Arabic or Farsi. I don’t know for sure. I found a single setting of silver flatware wrapped in a linen napkin. The initial ‘B’ was elaborately inscribed on the handles of each piece. The set consisted of knife, fork, spoon, dessert fork, and a coffee spoon. My mother’s maiden name was ‘Brock’. Was that what the ‘B’ stood for?

There were a few other things in the box, some jewelry, a bullet, a pair of white gloves, and a small silver box, wrapped tightly in newsprint that was shaped kind of like a three leaf clover. A silver tube, about two inches long, flared at one end and straight at the other hung from the stem of the clover leaf shaped container. It was attached with a delicate silver chain, about 6 inches long, and a clasp . The box contained an amber powder and was about half full. I touched my finger to my tongue, and dipped it in the powder. I tasted it – I knew that taste. I’d been in South East Asia. I’d been in Vietnam. It was Opium. Good stuff too. Pretty pure.

There are some things we are not meant to know or to ever find out. I repacked the box and hid it from my sister in the trunk of my car. I figured I should take it home until I could decide what to do with it – who I should tell about it. I keep putting off doing anything with it. Maybe I’m afraid of what I will learn. Maybe it was not even my mother’s box but Beth’s box. But if it’s Beth’s box, should I give it to her children? If it’s Beth’s, how can I explain the monogram on the silverware?

Who’s the woman soldier?

Who belongs with the formal clutch?

I’ve scanned the inscription from the book (Letters from the Earth, by the way). It should be simple enough to have it translated, but I haven’t. Not yet.


 

*Side note on the watercolor brush – My mother paid $23.00 for this brush in 1940 – it was very expensive but once she had it – it was the only watercolor brush she ever owned, or used.

Random Scribbles · writing

A Name Like Wednesday Addams

ODP



 

Domenica Sonntag ran her fingers though her hair and peered closely into the mirror. She wondered who that old lady was; staring back at her from the looking glass. She tapped the nail of her middle finger against the hard surface.

“Fichue chose doit être brisé,” she muttered. “Or maybe, just maybe it was showing her the future.” She hoped that was not the case. That crone was old, grey haired, toothless. Her pallid skin sagged and her face was lined.

Domenica was beautiful and she knew it. Her curves, her eyes, her smile, and her fiery red hair made her the darling of the cinema, the diva of the box office; in high demand with casting directors and leading men. Chevalier always asked to work with her and they had made three films together. Why, just the other day he had phoned and proposed a day trip – a picnic and boating on the Seine. She had agreed of course and expected him to come collect her in his motor car this morning. He was a handsome man and a considerate lover. She always enjoyed the time that they spent together.

She shook off the memory of the image she had seen in the mirror and wheeled her chair to the closet. She chose flats, a white linen blouse and matching slacks of cotton gabardine. Perhaps they would go dancing later. Maurice loved to dance. A green silk foulard tied loosely around her neck would complete the ensemble with a dash of color. She needed help with her hair though, and she called for the girl, “Elise, venez ici s’il vous plaît.”  Where was that girl when you needed her? She stuck her head out of the bedroom door and called, again, down the hallway, “Elise?” From two doors down Elise emerged and looked down the hall.

“Oui, Mme. Sonntag?”

“Elise, I need some help with my hair. M. Chevalier will be here soon to pick me up and I fear I won’t be ready.”

“Of course,” Elise said and she came down the hall to assist. “You look lovely this morning, Mme. Sonntag,” she said. “Do you want me to just put it up; or would you like a braid today?” They agreed on a braid and as Elise worked Domenica questioned the young woman about her wardrobe.

“Elise, you look like a nurse. Always wearing hospital clothes.”

“Yes Mme.”

“You can be much prettier if you pay attention to fashion, dear.”

“Yes Mme.”

When she finished, Elise spun Domenica around and gave her the hand mirror to inspect her hair.

“Très bien, Elise, très bien. I think I’d like to wait on the verandah.”

“Yes Mme.” Elise helped her out to the porch and took her leave. She still had a lot of work to do.

Domenica sat expectantly waiting for her date. He seemed to be running a little late. Never mind, she thought and she began to doze. The next thing she knew Elise was back.

“Lunch time, Mme Sonntag,” she said. “Let me take you to the dining hall. They are serving a special meal today – canard. ”

“But I don’t want to miss Maurice.”

“I believe M. Chevalier will come tomorrow Mme.”

“Of course he will, Elise. Of course he will. We will have our picnic tomorrow.”

Elise released the brake on the chair; dabbed the aging starlet’s chin with a small towel, and wheeled her past the nursing station, in the direction of the dining hall.”


 

Random Scribbles · writing

Picture Prompt #8

ODP



 

“I reckon we’re gonna have to send her back to orientation. She might be a bit dim.”

“What? She just got out of orientation. She oughta have a pretty good grasp of the basics, anyway.”

“Come on then, I’ll show ya but keep in mind we give ‘em easy shit to do when they first get here.”

“Yeah, I know. Pushin’ the fog in, waking the sun up in the morning, tossin’ snowflakes – just keep ‘em away from the punters till they learn the lay o’ the land.”

“Well yesterday I asked her to turn on the fan and raise a gentle breeze. Ya know what she asked me?”

“Whut”

“She said, ‘Where do I stand?’ I says whaddya mean? She says, ‘I never know where to stand with a fan. If I stand behind it – it sucks. If I stand in front of it – it blows. If I stand next to it – it doesn’t do a damn thing for me.’ I told her I didn’t care where she stood just don’t turn it on too high.”

“No, ya didn’t!”

“’Fraid so. Indirectly that hurricane on the gulf yesterday? Yeah, that was my fault. I shoulda been more specific.”

“So what’s wrong now?”

“I asked her to hang the stars.”

.

.

.

.

.

The New Girl
The New Girl – Image courtesy of The Daily Prompt Alternative

 

Daily Prompt · Random Scribbles · writing

Do One Legged Ducks Swim in Circles?

Image courtesy of The Daily Prompt Alternative
Image courtesy of The Daily Prompt Alternative


“I don’t have to go, Dad.”

 “I’ll bet you do, son. We ate all that salmon last night. Salmon meat is really rich. Hold on, hold on. Ahhhh… there ya go. I feel better.”

“Oh Jeez, Dad; I think I need to move upwind. My eyes are burning.”

 “Just stay where you are boy and take care of your business. We’re bears. We’re in the woods… This here is what we do.”


ODP

Daily Prompt · Random Scribbles · writing

Word Association #1

ODP and my attempt at a 10 minute free write inspired by the phrase:

An expired library card



 

“That’ll be 67 dollars and 32 cents,” the checker said.

“This better be a damn good steak.” I replied.

He crossed his arms and stared at me. Mute, stoic, unblinking, daring me to pay. I pulled my wallet out of my pocket.

It was a really nice wallet. Hand stitched and tooled with a picture of a rose and a dagger that had inspired the tattoo on the back of my hand. I looked inside at the cash compartment and saw a five spot, three ones and some pocket lint that had collected over the years. I looked at my cards. Visa, MasterCard, American Express – none of those guys would have anything to do with me anymore, I didn’t have those cards.

I found a Diners Card and handed that to the checker. He ran it through his swipe reader and punched some numbers on the machine. We waited. We waited some more, till finally the printer started clacking and spewing out one of those skinny pieces of paper that they always want you to sign.

When it stopped chattering the checker tore it from the roll and began to read it. He frowned and put my Diners Card in his shirt pocket.

“Sorry sir, the card has been declined – insufficient funds. They’ve asked me to retain the offending piece of plastic and return it to them at my earliest convenience. Would you like to read the note?” He proffered the curled up strip of paper.

I shook my head and dug a little deeper into the wallet.

“Aha,” I exclaimed, “an old Pima County Library Card. I grew up in Tucson, you know,” I added.

My logic for telling him that was that if I gave up a little personal information he might see me as more human and perhaps be more compassionate. “Do you think that’ll work in your machine?”

“Perhaps it will,” he said as he took my old library card. “I see this is really ‘old school’ it doesn’t even have a mag stripe; lucky for you that library cards never expire. I’ll put the numbers in by hand,” and he proceeded to do so on his cash register keypad.

Pretty soon the printer began disgorging another tome and I assumed he was going to take away this card too, but he put the paper in front of me and pointed to the bottom where I was supposed to sign, then he handed me back my red and yellow library card. I picked up my groceries and headed for the door with an old Peggy Lee song playing in my head.

‘You Don’t Know’ was sounding like the scratchy B side of an old 45 and I was feeling good until the voice of the checker broke through Peggy’s blue stylings. “Sir,” he said, “I got another message from the printer, It says that steak is due back in two weeks.”


 

OK – I confess. I wrote furiously for ten minutes but then went back and added punctuation and corrected my spelling after time had expired. Please don’t think less of me.

Random Scribbles · writing

Paint With Words #2 – Descent

ODP



 

I watched my receivers scanning the high frequency bands, looking for contacts. Ready to identify whatever I picked up. The MC relayed all conversation in control to my speaker in the ESM shack. I heard, “This is Lt. Hawkins, I have the deck and the Conn. Down scope,” I heard the OD operate the valve actuator ring, in the overhead, and the number 2 scope slipped smoothly and silently into the well. I smiled, one facet of my job was to ensure all the masts and antenna operated flawlessly. “Make your depth 120 feet, 3 degree down bubble.”

“Make my depth 120 feet, three degree down, aye.” Echoed the diving officer; he repeated the order to the helmsman and planesman, who immediately complied by pressing forward on their yokes. I did not hear them implement the shallow dive but I felt the slight change in the pitch of the boat.

It doesn’t take long to dive to 120 feet from periscope depth, even if you are only holding a 3 degree bubble, and soon the diving officer was singing out, “depth is 120 feet sir.”

The Chief of the Watch finished pumping variable ballast and the planesman maintained an even trim at 120 feet.

“Ahead one third,” Hawkins said.

The helmsman reached over with his left hand and selected Ahead One Third on the Engine Order Telegraph. Almost immediately the speed change was acknowledged and I heard the EOT ding in reply.

“Right 15 degrees rudder, come to 275.” Lt. Hawkins ordered. He wanted to hear what, if anything was behind him despite the fact that there had been no visuals.

“Right 15 degrees rudder, aye” the helmsman echoed and before long added, “steady on course 275.”

“Conn, Sonar – it’s quiet out tonight. No contacts excepting biologic activity at 160.”

“Very well. Diving officer, make your depth 400 feet, 15 degrees down.”

The diving officer acknowledged the order and the helmsman and planesman again pressed forward on their controls.

Fifteen degrees is a noticeable pitch and everyone standing on the boat was soon leaning noticeably closer to the deck plates aft of where they stood. We listened to the hull creak and pop, but we held that angle for only a few short minutes before I felt the boat level off and heard the dive say, “depth 400 feet.”

“Very well,” said the OD, “ahead flank.”

“Ahead flank, aye.” The EOT dinged twice.

“Sonar, Radio, ESM; Conn – Plan a high speed run to station at Whiskey Two where we will drop a little deeper, rig for quiet, and hope to make contact with enemy shipping.”

I recognized his voice when Bugman said, “Conn; Sonar aye”

Uncle Jerry replied, “Conn; Radio aye”

“Conn; ESM aye,” I said. I looked at my watch. It would take about four hours to get to Whiskey Two I had some downtime. I flicked the latch that locked the door and leaned back against the bulkhead. I should be able to get in a half hour nap before I was needed in Control. Ahead flank at a depth of 400 feet usually provided a gentle rocking motion, perfect for napping, if nothing else was going on. I intended to take advantage of it.

Random Scribbles · writing

Beware of the Dog. She’s Very Sarcastic

ODP



Wow, the prompt today is awesome. “Sarcastic Dog” right?

That’s funny right?

Dogs can’t be sarcastic… they don’t even have thumbs. Right?

 #

Lemme tell you a story about Rhoda, the dog.

My wife and I were married in 1974. She came with a dog. You guys know the drill right? “Love me, love my dog?”

The dog’s name was Rhoda and she was a black lab mix.

Beautiful,

Protective,

Sarcastic.

If I came home from work and hugged my wife the dog would get in between us. Separate us. Try to keep us apart. She would say things like, “Stay away from her till you’ve got something to offer. You’ve been at work all day. Why are we still poor?”

Eventually though, I won her over and she began to pick on Edna, my wife.

One night Edna and I were going out to a big soiree that my boss was having – real fancy do, right. When Edna was ready to go she came out to the living room, where Rhoda was sitting on the couch (as bad dogs are wont to do). Rhoda looked at Edna, then looked at me, then looked back at Edna, turned to me and said, “Well that’s a real waste of makeup.”

Then she snickered. Yeah, she snickered. Bad dog, right?

Sometimes it wasn’t so much what she said as how she said it.

Like the time I forgot my anniversary and Edna cried.

“Good boy,” Rhoda said to me, “who’s a good boy then?”

Then there was the time I came back from a business trip. Two weeks on the road and when I got home I leaned down to scratch Rhoda between the ears, “Hey girl,” I asked, “did you miss me?”

“I felt so miserable without you,” she answered, “it was almost like having you here.”

That afternoon, I took Rhoda to visit some friends who owned a farm in Riverside County.

I left her there and drove home without her. As I backed the car down the drive I heard Rhoda, barking. She was saying, “Oh, this is just great. This is just what I need. Bring Milk Bones when you come back!”

I never saw her again but I’m sure that Rhoda’s in hell now because she was a bad dog and bad dogs go to hell. Right?