OLWG#119- Good Help

 Written for OLWG#119

Justine picked up the phone on the second ring. Always on the second ring. Pick up on the first ring and people think you’re anxious, let it ring too many times and they get pissed that you are making them wait so Justine always picked up on the second ring. She didn’t recognize the number that came up on caller ID so she used her professional greeting, “Good morning Justine Kiddo speaking, how can I help you.”

She always said ‘how can I help you,” rather than “how may I help you,” because she thought it sounded more sincere, more homey, less pretentious. The last thing that Justine wanted to do was sound pretentious.

“Hey Kiddo, it’s me,” the caller said by way of identifying himself.

Justine brought her hand up to her breast in surprise, “Mr Sullivan?” she asked. The boss had never called her directly before.

“The one and only,” he replied, “Kiddo I tried to get hold of Barry but his line’s busy. I go directly to voice mail when I try either Ruben or Roxanne. What the fuck’s going on there?”

Mr Ramirez and Ms Renata are in a meeting, Conference room two. I’m not sure where Mr Green is. I haven’t seen him yet this morning. Is there anything I can do to help you, sir?”

“You’re really the only one there, Kiddo?”

“Oh no sir, there are lots of people here. Production is in full swing. I’m assuming that they started at 6:30, as usual. Some of the engineers are here and the kitchen staff is working already. I can take a message for Mr Ramirez and give it to him when he gets out of his meeting if you’d like.” Justine paused and waited for Mr Sullivan to speak.

“Yeah, OK, Kiddo. Would you please tiptoe into that meeting and let Roxanne know that I had to call in sick. She’ll know what to do from there.”

“Of course, sir. Would you like me to inform her why?”

“What do you mean, Kiddo?”

“Do you want me to let her know why you’re sick? A cold, perhaps? Food poisoning or a 24-hour bug, some other minor malady? I can.”

“No, that’s OK. Just tell her I’m sick and won’t be in today. If there is something urgent they can call me but I’d rather be left alone if possible.”

“Very good, sir. I can call up Mittagessen and have a nice container of chicken soup delivered. Would that help?”

“No, that’s OK Kiddo but it won’t be necessary. Don’t forget to let Roxanne know. I’m going back to bed now.”

The phone went silent. Justine moved the phone in front of her face and looked at the receiver for a moment. She shrugged her shoulders and pulled her purse, to her lap from its spot beneath the desk.

The prompts were:

  1. call in sick
  2. the diary beneath her pillow
  3. we can share a tic tac


OLWG#118- The Topless Dancer

 Written for OLWG#118

Donnie tucked the blue and grey polyester shirt into his white bell bottoms and buckled the wide, white double pronged belt. Sitting on the edge of the bed he pulled on his white Stacy Adams’ before checking out his reflection in the mirror. Combing his hair, tucking it behind his ears, he yelled as he rumbled downstairs.

“I’m going out, Mom. Don’t wait up.”

His mother, in the kitchen, took a long drag off her cigarette and stubbed it out in the glass ashtray she had stolen from a motel in Chatanooga. The front door slammed shut and she muttered, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” She used a fork to turn the fried steak in the pan on the stove.

On the front walk, Donnie looked left and then right before heading right towards 53rd. On the way there, he detoured into Sam’s, where Sam himself stood behind the bar mixing drinks for the Glinskys. The Glinskys lived two doors down from Donny’s Grandpa. He’d known them all his life.

“Donnie,” Sam greeted him, “whats going on?”

“Not much right now, Sam. Good evening Mr and Mrs Glinsky.”

Mrs Glinsky smiled and her teeth slipped a little, “Howsh your mother, Donald?” she lisped as she brought her hand to her mouth.

“She’s fine Mrs Glinsky, just fine.”

“Well, give her our best.”

Turning his attention back to Sam he went on, “We’re doing Brandon’s bachelor party tonight at Teasers.”

“Jeeze, is that place still open?” Sam fired back.

“Teasers will always be open. It’s an institution. Hey, can you break three twenties? I need some dollar bills for the topless dancers.”

“Yeah, sure Donnie. Just get it from the register.”

Donnie held up some twenty dollar bills to show Sam and he punched ‘NO SALE’ on the register. The drawer popped open. He counted out sixty ones, and put a single twenty into the drawer while palming the other two. He slipped those two into his pocket and held up the handful of ones for Sam to see.

“Thanks, Sam,” he said.

“Donnie, have fun, tell Brandon I said congratulations and call me if you need a ride. I don’t want you driving tonight. You hear?”

My time’s up. No time for editing so this is really rough and I didn’t get to finish it. Sorry you get what you get today.

The prompts were:

1. take the blame
2. bell bottoms
3. dollar bills for the topless dancer

OLWG#117- In Memory of Katherine Rabine

 Written for OLWG#117

Katherine Rabine was not a normal girl.

She spoke only seldom and seemed always to be in the presence of feathered creatures. All types of birds. Sparrows and dickie birds seemed to hover incessantly. Ravens and crows circled high above. Bright colourful parrots and macaws perched nearby and watched her every move. They protected her.

 Katherine had amazing blue eyes. The iris of her right eye was turquoise; lots of green and lots of blue, with a wee touch of red. it looked like a tropical island sky at midday. Her left eye was different, more an aqua; all green and blue without a trace of red. The colour of Caribbean waters lying over a sandbar.
The pupil on her left was dark and inky. It shone and reflected your image if you peered close enough. It gave the impression that she could see into your soul. The other pupil looked like a void; empty, deep, and bottomless. A hole in the sky for the birds to fly through. A passageway from there to here.
Katherine Rabine was not a normal girl.

The prompts were:

  1. Where the grass grows uphill
  2. A hole in the sky for the birds to fly through
  3. Written in fire

OLWG#115- Whydon’tcha?

 Written for OLWG#115

The thin man, with the grey buff Stetson, sat a bit taller at the bar, reached into his coat pocket and fished around till he found his crumpled pack of Marlboro Reds. Pulling out the last cigarette he held it up to the light and tried to straighten it. He was moderately successful so he pulled a blue tip match from his hatband and struck it alight with his thumbnail. He repeated this step three times before he finally got the smoke lit.

Behind the bar Andi ambled his direction, “Dusty, ya’ll know ya can’t smoke in here. Ya gotta either put that out now, or go outside.” She put her hands on her hips and glared at him; challenged him.

He looked back at her, “Hi, Andi,” he said. He closed his eyes, rubbed the stubble on his chin and smiled absently at her.

Dusty, yore all liquored up again. You oughta just go home.”

I’m never going home agin, Andi. ‘Less you let me come home with you!” He took a long draw on the cigarette and blew the smoke in her direction.

She shook her head and teetered away, back down the bar. Zimmerrman raised his finger, signaling for another gin fizz.

An older woman a couple of stools down piped up, “I’ll take ya home Dusty.”

The thin cowboy looked down at her, “Jeeze, Ma; what’re you doing here? Aren’t you missing the Channel 7 News?”

It’s OK, honey. I got yore ole bed for you to sleep in. Still have those ‘Cowboy Bob’ sheets you liked so much. Nothing’s changed.”

Dusty grimaced and spun on his seat. He stood to leave and started stumbling towards the door.

Andi called out after him, “Give my best to Rose Marie, Dusty. We’ll see you guys for dinner t’morrow night. Don’t forget to bring that drain snake. Our downstairs toilet is clogged again and Dave can’t clear it with the tools he’s got.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Dusty murmured under his breath. He raised his left hand in a kinda half-assed wave.

The door swung closed behind him and his mother hollered out, “See ya, boy. Bring those grandkids around for a visit sometime, whydon’tcha?”

The prompts were:

  1. the final year of growth and liberation
  2. liquored up
  3. never going home

OLWG#112- Once Upon an Us

 Written for OLWG#112

Darla was a sailor. A slender girl, who stood just over five feet tall, a Gunners Mate on a warship that was known for inflicting damage when damage needed to be inflicted. The days at sea can flow into one another, you are busy every day and there is often little to distinguish them or set them apart, mark them as special. As such, she completely missed her21st birthday. It came and went without registering in her psyche.

Darla refrained from going out clubbing with her older friends, she only bought beer on base, not in the liquor stores on the beach. She also neglected to renew her driver’s license but as she was active duty military, she didn’t have to anyway. She carried her military ID.

She was in port for her twenty-second birthday though and she planned to go into town with friends. She looked forward to going to Hākari to have a big plate of fish and a bottomless basket of sourdough rolls. She was going to order one of those craft beers from town that you couldn’t get on base. She thought it might be something light, maybe a little bit fruity. Her current roommates, Amy and Elaine, had shown keen interest when Darla mentioned that she might like to go dancing after dinner.

Her mind skipped immediately and maybe a touch guiltily to Ben, her on-again / off-again beau from back home. Ben worked on his daddy’s farm. He was a sure thing when she needed someone to talk to or spend the evening with. Her romance with Ben didn’t stop her from going out with other guys, or from doing the occasional cowboy when she wanted to mix it up a bit. But, it was comfortable knowing that he was there.

She got off work early and picked up her mail on the way to the barracks. She had a new flowered sundress that she planned to wear. She bought it last weekend at a boutique downtown. It was made of some kind of slinky material that felt like nothing next to her skin. It had been expensive, but remember, she thought she was turning twenty-one; you only turn twenty-one once.

In her room, she laid her new dress out on the bunk and hurried to take a shower before Elaine got back. Elaine worked in the radio centre and usually got back a few minutes before Amy, who worked in the periscope shop on the sub-base.

She finished a quick shower and shampoo, wrapped herself in a towel, shaved her legs, just in case, and left the head to sit on her bunk and read her mail. There was a letter from Ben. She thought about setting it aside and reading it tomorrow. She didn’t want to be thinking about Ben if she got lucky with another man tonight. She wrestled with her emotions and finally succumbed, slit the letter open and started to read the words in Ben’s familiar scrawl.


I don't know how to break this to you so I reckon it's best if I just come 
right out and say it. I know we both made some promises before you 
went away and I know that we aren't exclusive but I am planning on 
getting married in June. 

I met Nora a couple of months back and we are in love. She's only 
ten years older than me and her family owns a big spread closer in to 
the city. Nora's an only child. Her mama's been gone for quite a few 
years now and her daddy's getting poorly. She doesn't know what to 
do with a big farm so her daddy's been pushing her to find a man 
who does. She found me, I found her and well, the rest is history. 

I probably won't be writing much any more.


As she finished reading, the door flew open, Amy and Elaine walked in together. Darla stuffed the letter under her pillow.

“Hey girls,” she said, “Do you guys have your hearts set on dinner and dancing tonight?”

The roommates smiled and shrugged in stereo.

“Whatcha got in mind, Darla?” one of them asked. Darla thought it might have been Elaine who asked, but didn’t particularly care.

Darla’s turn to shrug, “How would you feel about going over to the Marine base and picking a fight with some jarheads.”

“I’m always down for a bit of head bashin’,” Amy grinned in anticipation and showed the gap between her two front teeth.

Last week I ignored the time limit. This week I did it again.

The prompts were:

  1. it’s a circus out there
  2. on her 22nd birthday
  3. don’t send any more letters

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…

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