OLWG#111- Being Neighborly

 Written for OLWG#111


I remember when Ruben Billigmeier and his wife, Christine moved into our apartment block on the south side. It was only the two of them but they took a large three bedroom – two bath place, upstairs overlooking the pool in the centre courtyard. Margie, the kids and I had the corner place two doors down.
They were an attractive couple. Ruben had a thatch of blonde hair and wore a moustache. Christine was tall and lean with curly red hair that hung down to the middle of her back and a spray of freckles tossed across her button nose.
Ruben and I would leave for work at about the same time most days. I’d drive off in my twenty-year-old compact and he’d leave in his brand new Chrysler sedan. Over the course of a month or so I learned that he worked at the zipper factory as some kind of manager in the production area.
Margie said that Christine stayed at home and inside most of the time. She would go down to the pool for at least an hour every day though. She’d sit on a chaise, in the sun to read her magazines and work on her tan.
People, usually women who looked like housewives, would come and knock on their door. Margie would let the visitors in and they would stay anywhere between five and fifteen minutes before leaving. Sometimes they’d leave with a small paper bag in hand or cradled at their elbows. Margie thought that Christine might be selling drugs over there and decided to do some investigation, on her own. She started going down to the pool when she’d see Christine there.
They started with idle chatter. They’d talk about the weather or something else inconsequential. Margie avoided discussing religion and politics. Eventually, they became pool buddies. Margie would invite Christine up to our apartment occasionally for a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, but Christine always declined. That is, she would always decline until that one day in early August when she surprised Margie and agreed.
I think I’d like that,” she said. They went upstairs and between the two of them consumed a bottle and a half of Chardonnay. This got to be a regular event with the two friends, who’d get together at our house about once a week and share a few drinks. Chardonnay was Margie’s favourite so that was primarily what they drank.
After a month or so of these informal get-togethers, Christine invited Margie up to her and Ruben’s place. Margie, of course, accepted. This was what she had been angling for. She wanted to see what went on at the Billigmeier’s.
As they made their way up the staircase and along the upper landing Christine said, “I don’t have any wine, Margie, but I have something just as good, or better. You game?”
“Sure,” Margie laughed, “Long as it won’t make me go blind!”
Christine led her friend to the dining table, laughed, and disappeared into the back of the house. When she returned she had a clear glass bottle that looked like it would hold about a litre of the golden liquid that was in it. There was a cork in the top and no label. She sat the bottle on the table, grabbed a couple of small mason jars from the sideboard and splashed a couple of fingers worth from the bottle to the jars.
Margie took a glass and sniffed it. It smelled earthy but flammable at the same time. Christine took a small sip from her glass and smiled. Margie followed suit and felt the drink warm her all the way down. It tasted like magic.
“Damn, Christine, this is wonderful.”
“Thanks, I make it myself, but don’t tell anybody.” She pointed through the door to the kitchen where a wooden sign hung. The sign read “Whisky for Sale – Good Whisky for Sale” in hand done black letters on a Redwood board.
“I thought you were selling drugs.”
“Nope, what I’m selling is better than drugs. I sell it by the bottle, I sell it by the jar, or I sell it by the shot. We couldn’t afford to live here on Ruben’s salary alone.”


I ignored the time limit this week as I was interrupted several times during the course of writing. The prompts were:

  1. whisky for sale
  2. a button nose
  3. When entrusted with a secret…

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OLWG#110- Imogene’s Splintered Obsession

 Written for OLWG#110


Imogene stood in line with the other kids to see Santa. She’d done this every year for the last twenty-one years.
The boy behind her, maybe five years old – maybe seven, poked her butt, she turned, “My name is Curtis,” he wiped his nose with his sleeve, “Are you waiting to see Santa?” he asked her.
She nodded her head and faced forward again, clutching her list, anxiously waiting her turn.
He tugged on her sleeve, “Is that your list?”
She nodded again, saying nothing.
He poked her again, “I’m asking for a Big Wheel and a baby sister.”
“That’s nice,” she said.
“What are you asking for?”
“Mind your own business,” Imogene snapped, and the boy recoiled.
When it was Imogene’s turn she tugged on her skirt and perched on Santa’s knee.
“Well, Merry Christmas, young lady.”
They went through the standard shit that Santa did every year… What’s your name? Have you been good? Blah, blah blah.
Imogene politely answered his questions and waited for the important one.
“What can I get you for Christmas this year?”
She opened her list, “a boyfriend,” and proceeded to go through the checklist on said boyfriend. How tall he should be, his name, and facial features. She knew the length and colour of hair, the type of car he drove, how much money he should have. He must have a sense of humour, she itemized her list and when she finished she folded it back up, rolled it, and clenched it tightly in her hand. She looked at Mr Claus.
Santa cleared his throat and said, “I don’t know, Imogene. This close to the holidays this might be a tough order. You haven’t given me a lot of time. I’ll do my best though. Is that OK?”
Imogene nodded her head and hopped down. Curtis called her from his spot in the line.
“Hey girl!” he hollered, “You know that’s not even the real Santa Claus.”
“Is so…” Imogene took the bait.
“Is not…” Curtis yelled back
“Is so…”
“Is not…”
“Is so…” Imogene yelled at Curtis one last time, spun on her heel and marched smartly out of the mall.
Curtis turned to the younger kid behind him in line. That kid was drooling red candy on his chin and the front of his shirt.
“I hate that girl,” Curtis told the kid.
“Hape dat grrl,” the kid echoed and a crimson bubble appeared at the corner of his mouth.


This week’s prompts were:

  1. he lives only in her mind
  2. is so…
  3. this close to the holidays

OLWG#109- Glenavon

 Written for OLWG#109

My apologies to all who read this. I was writing fast and I’ve probably massacred the attempts at the Gaelic. Anything unrealistic, any unfortunate mistakes contained in the story are mine and mine alone.


The solicitor, a man called Morgan, straightened the paper on the desk, and then picked it up between well manicured fingertips. He cleared his throat and began to read from my grandfather’s will, “I, Sachairi MacDiarmaid, being in good health and of sound mind, leave my home and land to my Granddaughter, Elspeth MacDiarmaid, with the condition that she make it her home and live there for the rest of her days. In the event that she is unwilling or unable to comply with these terms the house and property should be sold on the open market and the proceeds donated to the Caber Foundation for the Furtherance of Highland Games.

For my namesake and grandson, Zachary MacDiarmaid, I bequeath my collection of antique bottles some of which were left to me by my ‘Da. They’ve been in the family for generations. I don’t just mean the bottles displayed in the parlor but also the ones hidden beneath the stair. Some of them should be worth a bit by now. Finally I leave my dog, Islay, to Hamish, my neighbor of over forty years, who’s always wanted a good herd dog.”

The lawyer continued on with a lot of blather until finally he sat the paper back on the desk blotter and looked at my sister and I. “Do you have any questions for me?” he asked.

My sister shook her head, no; as did I.

Outside the office Elspeth and I hailed a cab to take us to Dey’s house. My sister began touring the outside. Walking around and noting the landscaping, the paint, the deferred maintenance; taking an inventory in her head. I went straight inside and made for the staircase. I never knew that there were bottles hidden there. I saw nothing but a couple boxes of books and  Dey’s Wellies, with his Mac draped over the top of them. I moved the boxes and discovered a panel in the wall. I called my sister.

I had to call Elspeth several times because she was back behind the shed. I got her inside and showed her the panel.

“Ever see this before?” I asked her.

“Never,” she said, “did you open it?”

“Not yet.”

We found that drawer, in the kitchen the one used to hold ‘all things’ and in it we found a screwdriver which we used to prise off the panel from the wall beneath the stair. We found two wooden boxes of equal size. I lifted the first one out and sat it behind me. The second seemed a bit heavier, but I removed it from the cubby as well then dragged them both out to the lounge. In the light we could see that the boxes were handmade of a tight grained white wood, now honeyed with age. The top of the heavy box was nailed down but the lighter box was not. I lifted the lid and saw that the inside was divided into 24 separate sections. Eleven of them were empty. Twelve of them contained bottles one of them had a piece of heavy paper rolled up inside.

First I lifted one of the bottles. It was pale green in colour and adorned with a hand lettered label. The label sported three golden stars for decoration and read:

Glenavon
Special Liqueur
Whisky

Bottled by the Distillery

It was smaller than a normal whisky bottle. I reckoned that it held less than half a litre. I handed it to my sister and pulled out the rolled paper, which turned out to be a note the script was fading and hand lettered in an old style. I read it aloud to my sister.

 

Greetings Mr MacDiarmaid

You’ve found the family legacy. Forty-eight bottles of the finest 
whisky ever made and bottled in Ballindalloch. The idea is this –
Two of these bottles belong to you; to do with as you see fit. 
The remaining bottles are to be passed to the next male MacDiarmaid 
bearing the name of Zechariah. Make note of the dates and circumstance 
you use yer botuls.

1863 Zechariah MacDiarmaid      drank and shared with friends 
                                  on the occasion of me wedding
1876                            drank and shared with friends at the 
                                  wake of me wife
1890 Xackary MacDiarmaid        drank with me bràthair - 
                                  two botuls one night
1920 Sagairi MacDiarmaid        Shared with Elspeth Buchan
1920                            Shared with Elspeth MacDiarmaid 
                                  on our wedding nite
1934 Zechariah MacDiarmaid      Drank one
                                Sold one to Glendening £2
1945 Sagaire MacDiarmaid        End of the war- opened two at the local 
                                  shared with mates
1959 Sachairi MacDiarmaid       Drank one
                                Sold one at auction £500
1981 Sachairi MacDiarmaid       Drank one- alone
                                Sold one at auction £15,000

“1981,” I mused, “That had to be Dey. Wonder what a bottle’s worth now?”

Elspeth sat mute and shook her head. Finally she spoke, “I need to Google this stuff…” she crawled out from beneath the stair and wandered into the house.

That night we toasted Dey with the bottle we opened. The whisky was golden in colour. The taste was smooth, rich, earthy and wonderful.



This week’s prompts were:

  1. gnarly
  2. antique bottles
  3. flowers wilted and dogs panted in the shade

OLWG#108- Not All Forevers are Equal

 Written for OLWG#108


Evi opened her eyes, turned her head and looked at the large man lying next to her in the small bed. She knew he was a cop but she couldn’t remember if she had gotten his name. It didn’t matter. He breathed slowly and regularly with his back towards her. She figured he was asleep.

Careful not to wake him, she spun her legs off the bed, eased from under the duvet, and put her feet on the floor. Her dress was there, next to her purse, so she pulled it over her head. It had thin straps, was made of silk, and cut short. Her pumps were next to the bed. She groped around and scoured the floor but she couldn’t find her panties and she hadn’t come in with a bra. She figured she was as dressed as she was going to be. She didn’t want to linger any longer than necessary.

He had left the pre-negotiated 700 guilders on the dresser, she scooped up the cash and was moving toward the door, ready to leave, when she spotted his wallet on his bedside table and his weapon hanging in its holster from the back of the desk chair; a nine. She paused to consider what she was planning. After a while she shrugged her shoulders and removed the pistol from its holster sliding it into her bag. The wallet and car keys were next.

After taking what she could she opened the door a crack and slipped from the room into the corridor. On the lift, she pressed the button for the garage and prayed that she didn’t have to stop at the ground floor. She held her breath as the car slid past the lobby and she stepped out on P1. It took a minute to get her bearings but finally, she ventured left and walked till she spotted his older model BMW, the one had brought her here in. It was a deep black 325i that unlocked without complaint when she pressed the button on the key.

Evi threw her purse on the passenger seat and slid in behind the wheel. She started it and waited a while for the engine to warm up. While waiting she removed the 9 from her bag and concealed it between her leg and the centre console. Turning onto the straat, Evi contemplated her life; she didn’t seem to be living the life that her mother had promised.

Should she try to sell this car or leave it down by the waterfront with the keys in.



This week’s prompts were:

  1. I told you not to throw that egg
  2. even distribution
  3. not all forevers are equal

OLWG#106- Honky-Tonk Saloon

 Written for OLWG#106



Marshall was walking south on U.S. Route 54, the train tracks to his left when the snow began to fall. He would have been hitching if there had been any traffic. It was dark, no streetlights, and cold. He was surrounded by desert and heavy clouds blacked out the stars. The quiet was like a beast sitting on his chest and roaring. Oppressive, Omnipotent, Weighty…
He kept walking; one foot in front of the other and at some point he became aware of something else that he shared with this high desert landscape. He couldn’t have told you whether he heard it first or saw it first. A faint glow – behind the next hill? Maybe over the horizon? – he couldn’t tell. The sound of a crowd? Or the throaty rumble of mufflers from a hundred race cars? Music? Hallucinations?
Marshall continued to put one foot in front of the other. He was shivering with the cold, but as he moved he realized that he had begun to sing along with the music. It was a mixture of country and old rock ‘n roll. It was then that he crested the hill and looked down. He saw a tilt-up concrete building the size of a sports arena that was surrounded by a poorly lit gravel lot. Pick-ups filled the parking area. and a garish lighted sign shone brightly where the driveway met the highway.
“The StarLite” it read in large letters done in a mid-century modern typeface, stylized stars, planets, and satellites seemed to orbit the name. There was a changeable letter message board below where the message read,
7 STAGES, LIVE NUDE GIRL5,
BEER, WINE, BILLIARDS, BOWLING
BEST PASTRAMI SANDWICHES THIS SIDE OF THE RIO GRANDE
Marshall picked up his pace. What the hell, he thought, any port in a storm, it was cold and he craved warmth. By the time he reached the driveway he was running; down the drive and across the gravel lot. The double front door was metal. It was a fire door, painted red that opened with a crash bar. There were no windows on the front of the building, but inside, sat a large man on a stool. A black felt cowboy hat rested on the floor next to him. The man had a shaved head and wore a blue shirt with a white patch over the pocket. The patch read “Hector”.
His sleeves were rolled up and cinched around tree-trunk biceps. Jeans and black boots finished the outfit.
Without a word, Hector pointed to a hand-lettered sign over his shoulder “$5.00 Cover” Marshall pulled a twenty from his pocket and, teeth chattering, handed it to the big man. Hector produced a roll of bills and carefully manipulating his island sized paws, gave back three fives to Marshall. He then held aside a beaded curtain and motioned Marshall inside.

 


This week’s prompts were:

  1. keep walking till the music gets loud
  2. it’s always money
  3. he only came in to get out of the snow

OLWG#105- I Don’t Know What You’re Talking About

 Written for OLWG#105



Junior Notaro grabbed his sister, Marica, by the chin and turned her head so that he could see her face.

“What’d you tell Ma, Mari; what’d you tell Ma?”

“I didn’t tell her nothin’,” she wiped tears from her cheek, smeared her mascara and looked at Junior defiantly through cry reddened eyes.

“I didn’t tell her nothin’.”

BAM

Junior slammed his hand down hard on the table and Marica jumped.

“I’m startin’ to lose my patience, Mari. I need to know what you told her.”

“Fuck, Junior. You’re scarin’ me… All right, all right,” she shook her head and looked down at the table, “I told her… I told her that you and Ann went into the city, and you were going to stay the weekend.”

“Why would she believe that?”

“I told her that you were going to see some shows.”

“Do you know where I was, Mari?”

“No, not for sure, but you might have been involved in that shooting on the bridge. Did you kill those guys on the bridge, Junior?”

He averted his gaze to the window, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh come on, Junior; I watch the news. I read the papers. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out what you do for a living.”


This week’s prompts were:

  1. it’s clogged
  2. soaked
  3. rocket surgery

OLWG#104- Roller Coaster

 Written for OLWG#104



Maddie was a nice girl. She studied hard in school and volunteered as a ‘Candy Striper’ at Mercy. She was a cheerleader, who planned to go to State when she finished High School. She was going steady with Brad. She liked putting on a Richard Nixon mask and robbing ice cream trucks with a butcher knife; then making her escape on foot. She would take only the coins

Brad always said that being with Maddie was like riding a roller coaster. Up and down or side to side – always shaking things up – always entertaining and never boring. He loved her dearly. Maddie didn’t love anyone, she loved things. She loved things like, the adrenaline that coursed through her body during a robbery. She loved the weight of all the money she carried as she listed to one side and made her escape. She loved getting away with it.

She would go to Brad’s, when his parents weren’t home, with her pockets full of coins and spill all the money onto his mother’s brown and orange shag carpet. They would lie together on the money, on the carpet and watch after-school TV until Brad’s mom would come home and invite her for dinner, but she would never stay. Instead, she would head home for dinner with her Dad and her little sister. She’d drop all her coins into the Sparklett’s bottle that she kept in her closet. She was saving up for something; she just didn’t know what yet.

Time passed and the bottle was eventually filled. A problem arose that Maddie hadn’t anticipated. She called Brad

“The bottle’s full. We should celebrate, but I need your help to carry it. It’s too heavy for me.”

The spent the night eating Cheetos and drinking root beer as they counted and rolled the coins. When they were done she had well over seven hundred dollars.

“What’re ya going to do with this money, Maddie?”

“I’m thinking about buying Donny Lawson’s Harley Sportster.”

“Donny won’t sell you his bike. He loves that bike.”

“Donny’s dead.”

“No way, what happened to Donny?”

“Vietnam happened; Donny’s mom got a telegram from the Army last Monday. He’s not coming home.”

“How do you know that?”

Mrs Lawson called her pastor when she got the wire. My dad’s her pastor. I can probably pick up the bike for three or four hundred dollars. She won’t want it around. It’d be too painful and besides, she doesn’t ride. I’ll use the rest of the money to buy books for school. I’m going to take a few classes this Summer.”

Brad looked down and studied his toes, saying nothing.

“What?” Maddie asked him.

“Nothing,” he said.

“No, What?” she repeated.

“Well,” he started, “what about me?”

“What about you?”

“I was hoping you’d share some with me.”

“Tell you what,” she said, “I’ll give you twenty-five bucks and you can buy me a meat cleaver from the Sears Catalog. I think I might look scarier if I was carrying a cleaver instead of a butcher knife when I work. The one I like is only about sixteen dollars and you can keep the difference,” she smiled at him. He continued to pout. “And, I’ll take you out to dinner somewhere nice; maybe the cafeteria at the mall.”

Brad perked up immediately.

Maddie reached over and grabbed his chin, then she planted a kiss right on his lips before pushing him back so she could look at him, “You can get your own damn meat cleaver, though.”


This week’s prompts were:

  1. can we trust them?
  2. Maddie was a nice girl
  3. just another one