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.

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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.

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.


 

More on Dali

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.

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.”


 

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.”

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

 

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