You & Me


Me
I sit on the couch with my head in my hands.
Unnoticed, my cigarette falls from the souvenir ashtray,
slowly scarring the top of the veneered coffee table.

That’s knocking!
I stop pouring, rush to the door.
It must be you.
You’ve come back.

It’s not you at all though, it’s just the rain.
I return to my brown liquor. I return, to wallow in self-pity.

Three times I pull the door open.
Three times I rush to gather you into my arms.
Three times I am fooled by the rain and so;
3 times I crawl slowly… slowly back to the whiskey.

It’s late, after midnight.
I hear the rain at the door and ignore it.
I’ve learned my lesson. I won’t be fooled again.

It’s not knocking
it’s just the rain.

You
There is no answer at the door.
It’s two steps down from the stoop – to the pavement.
Your cab is waiting, engine idling softly.
The rain falling in front of the headlights is liquid fire.
In the cab you wipe your face, you wipe your eyes.

It’s not tears
it’s just the rain.


Inner City Painting


urban-decay

I tried to forgive them, but they didn’t show up. I had to call their boss.

15.September.2014

555-4545
“Thank you for calling Inner City Painting” the robot said, “If you know your party’s extension please enter it at any time. For a company directory please press 7 followed by the pound sign. To leave a message in our general mailbox please press 314, followed by the star key, or wait for the beep.”

7#

“To leave a message for Alberto press 101 followed by the star key. To leave a message for Diedre press 103 followed by the star key. To leave a message for Manny press 104 followed by the star key. To leave a message for Michelle press 107 followed by the star key. To leave a message for Rick press 108 followed by the star key. To leave a message in our general mailbox press 314 or wait for the beep.”

“Shit, who’s the boss?”

101*

Beep

“Hey Alberto. Are you the boss? If you’re not the boss could you pass this message on to the boss? Please?
“You guys were supposed to paint my mother’s house green this week. It’s Friday and the house still looks kinda grey. It looks like it’s auditioning for a part in ‘Amityville Horror’. Can you guys call me back and let me know what’s going on? This is Delbert Dangerfield 313-555-1212. Thanks”

17.September.2014

555-4545
“Thank you for calling Inner City Painting. If you know your party’s ex…”

314

“Thank you for calling Inner City Painting. If you know your…”

314*

“You have reached the general mailbox for Inner City Painting. Please leave your name, number and a brief message after the beep. We will get back to you as soon as possible.”

Beep

“This is Delbert Dangerfield. My number is 313-555-1212. Please call me back ASAP. I think you forgot to paint my mom’s house last week. Thanks.”

20.September.2014

555-4545
“Thank you for calling Inner City Painting. If you…”

103*

“Hi, you’ve reached the desk of Diedre at Inner City Painting. Sorry, I’m not available to take your call please leave a message. I’ll call you right back.”

Beep

“Hi Diedre, my name is Delbert Dangerfield. Can you call me back right away at 313-555-1212. Thanks”

0*

“Thank you for calling Inner City Paint…”

104*

“You’ve reached Manny. Well, you’ve reached Manny’s voice mail. Speak to the beep.”

Beep

“Hi Manny, can you call Delbert Dangerfield back right away at 313-555-1212. It’s about my mother’s house. Thanks”

0*

“Thank you for calling…”

105*

“We’re sorry that is not a valid extension. For a company directory please…”

106*

“We’re sorry that is not a valid extension…”

107*

“Hi, this is Michelle”

“Michell, Michelle, thank God I got a hold of you. I was beginning to lose hope.”

“I’m busy helping other customers right now. Leave a message at the sound of the beep. I’ll call you back.”

Shit, shit, shit, I’ll never forgive them. I gotta go down there now. Where the hell are they?


Speakeasy #165: A Round Nosed Shovel


It began easily enough. There were three of us who hatched the plan, me, Ruben and Stan. We sat on my front porch that Friday night to suss out the details. Stan’s dad had one of those long, heavy iron bars to help with the digging but he wouldn’t be able to get his hands on a shovel. That was OK because Ruben and I could both get them. I knew that I could get two for sure, one with a round nose and one square. We chose Stan’s back yard because his house sat a little deeper in the valley and this should cut our total digging time. It must’ve been Stan who suggested the idea first, and Ruben took a little convincing, but eventually we all agreed.

“Do you know how many people have tried this?” Ruben asked skeptically. “What makes you think we can pull this off when nobody has ever done it before?”

Stan brushed his red hair back, out of his eyes and crossed his arms. Leaning back he announced confidently, “Nobody’s ever done it before only ‘cause we haven’t tried yet. We can fuckin’ do this man.” He turned his head and spat over the porch rail like he had to prove how tough he was. Ruben and I had always been in awe of Stan’s mastery of the profane.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Ruben said. He and I both nodded our heads in unison.

We agreed to meet at six in the morning at Stan’s. “Don’t ring the damn doorbell when you get there. Just come through the back gate and we can get started. I’ll be ready for you.” He stood; putting one hand on the railing and vaulted off the porch to the lawn. He picked up his bike. “Gotta go, Mom’s makin’ meatloaf tonight.”

“See ya Stan,” I said as he pedaled away.

“Can we really do this?” Ruben asked.

“You know how I feel, Ruben. I’m feeling good. I really think we can.”

“How long do you think it’ll take?” he asked.

“I’m not fuckin’ sure,” I replied, trying to sound like Stan, failing miserably. “I figure it’ll take all summer but just think – we’ll be famous.” I tried to spit over the porch rail but didn’t make it that far. Ruben pretended not to notice.

“Yeah, you’re right. Fuckin’ famous… see ya in the mornin’.” Ruben said as he stood and walked towards home. Ruben only lived two doors down from me. He hadn’t bothered to bring his bike.

I went into the garage and got the two shovels. I stuck them behind the boxwood hedge with my bike so I wouldn’t have to search in the morning. Then I went inside to see what Dad had made for dinner.

It was 5:30 when I got out of bed the next day. I pulled on a pair of cut off jeans and a T-shirt. Ruben was standing on the sidewalk with his little sister, Angie, when I came out the front door. “What the hell did you bring her for?” I asked him.

“Mom says that I gotta take care of her all day dude. Sorry.” He shrugged his shoulders. I looked at her. She had sticky red candy running down her chin and she smiled. Her teeth were red too.

We went down to Stan’s and set Angie up in the yard with the puppy and some cookies for entertainment. We got to work.

“You think it’ll take all summer?” Ruben asked Stan as he stood in the bottom of the two foot deep hole. “That’s what Jim guessed last night.”

“I think Jim’s a goddamn pessimist,” Stan said. “I reckon if we knuckle down we could bring Chinese fireworks back for the fourth of July.”

We worked the hole that entire Saturday and by sunset it was about 4 feet deep and we had hit rock. The next day Ruben’s mom made him stay at home with Angie. Stan and I went to the school yard and got in on a pickup ball game. We got back to that hole the next weekend when Stan’s dad found it and made us fill it in. We never did get to China that summer. We gave it everything we had but it wasn’t enough.


 If the speakeasy is open you can click the badge, above, and see what this is all about.  There are only 40 seats at the bar but if you hurry you might get one!

Speakeasy #158 – The Preacher’s Wife

The preacher’s wife, Donna, came early that morning. The morning after Jimmy had died. Sharon had been surprised when she opened the door and saw her there. She was expecting a transport, a van to take Jimmy away. She was not expecting anyone from the church, let alone the preacher’s wife. She and Jimmy had seldom attended services, and then only on Christmas Eve.

“What the fuck are you doing here?” Sharon spat. She had eschewed sleep last night, choosing instead to sit by the fire, drowning her emotions with buckets and buckets of tea.

Donna blanched at the coarse language but smiled and shot her white gloves, “I’ve come to check on your Jimmy, my husband heard that he is poorly.”

“Your husband heard right,” Sharon said. “Jimmy hasn’t been well but, he’s gone now. I thought you were the van to take him to the undertaker’s.” She reached for the sill to steady herself and Donna, the preacher’s wife, caught her arm.

“Let’s get you inside.” Donna said, and she led Sharon in to the settee.

Donna went into the kitchen and got a cool damp cloth, brought it back and placed it on Sharon’s brow. She returned to the kitchen and put a fire under the kettle. Rummaging until she found the canister of tea she put some in the pot and when the water boiled she poured it in on top of the leafs, placed it on a tray, took two cups from the cupboard and carried the whole lot out to the front room where Sharon sat. “Let’s let it steep for a bit, shall we?” She sat across the table and began to fuss with the napkins. “I’m so sorry Sharon.”

“Don’t be, I never loved him and he never loved me – but we were married for almost 27 years. When I was young, love was an illusion that seemed to forever evade my grasp. My younger sisters and my friends all wed before me, for I was holding out for love, and I found it. I loved a boy once, but he went to the sea and I saw him not for 7 long years. By that time, I had been convinced and persuaded that the important thing about a marriage was not happiness but, stability.

“Jimmy and I had an arranged marriage, a stable marriage, a marriage of convenience. I had a husband before becoming a crone and, he had a wife. Having a wife is important to a merchant in this town. Keeps the tongues from waggin’, you know. And, believe you me, they could have wagged plenty.

“By the time my love returned to port; Jimmy and I were already wed. There was nothing to be done. He went back to sea and I settled in to make the best of it. Jimmy’s business was successful, we have this town house, we have a country house, and we have more money than we know what to do with. My regret was only that we had no children; I believe that it was Jimmy’s regret as well. Laughter was seldom heard around me and Jimmy.”

“You don’t have to tell me this,” Donna said.

“I want to. No, I need to.” Sharon dropped her face into her hands. “You see, not more than two weeks ago I was in town at the market and I saw my sea captain. The boy I had loved had come back. He had left the sea and come looking for me – for me! For two weeks we have been meeting secretly. We plotted and hatched a plan. I was to leave Jimmy and flee to the coast, where he has a fine home. We were going to give our lost love a second chance. But, now Jimmy is dead; struck down by a vengeful God; perhaps to punish me. Do you think that may be the case, Donna?”

“No,” said the preacher’s wife, “I’m sure it’s not like that.”

“But it is like that,” Sharon said looking fixedly at Donna, “it’s exactly like that. I have the money, I have the fine homes, I have found my lost love, and I am shed of my wicked husband. Don’t you see? It’s right. Everything about this is right.” she picked up her tea and sipped, “And the rightness eclipsed every mistake made along the way.”

Nobel Prize-winning Gabriel García Márquez passed away at the age of 87. He was an inspiration and yeah write will be paying tribute to him over the coming week. Here at the speakeasy, our media prompt is a video clip from the film Love in the Time of Cholera, which is based on Márquez’s novel of the same name.

Our sentence prompt this week, provided by last week’s winner, Janna, must be used as the LAST line in your piece.

“The rightness eclipsed every mistake made along the way.”

Our submissions must be 750 words or less.

Spring

Winter seemed reluctant to release it’s hold.
Or was it Spring?
Reluctant to emerge into the world,
Like a breech birth; she will emerge eventually, it is unavoidable.
But, there is danger!
For both Mother and Child, there is danger.
Why can’t this be easier?
“Do we bud now?” ask the plants.
“Should we bloom now?” ask the buds.
A late freeze endangers everything.
Pray for a turn in the womb.
Pray for a smooth emergence of new life.

Holidays with Dad

“Portishead? What part of Saskatchewan is that in?”

“Not in Saskatchewan. Not even close. Not far from Bristol though”

“So what about it then?”

“Holidays Dad. Holidays”

“When are ya goin’?”

“We”

“We what?”

“When are we goin’, Dad”

“I’m not goin’.”

“Sure ya are.”

“Nope, not me.”

“Ya can write there, Dad.”

“Write what?”

“Yer poems.”

“I don’t write. I specially don’t write poems.”

“They’re stuck up on post it notes all over the house.”

“Crap”

“I like this one, Dad”

“What’s it say?”

“’This is the beginning of forever and ever’”

“Sounds more like a fortune cookie, ya ask me.”
.
.
.
“Here’s a good start on another, ‘Two young hares, rump to rump like dueling pistols, crouched by the gate.’ Pretty deep that. Where ya goin’ with that one, Dad?”

“’Spose, I’m goin’ to fuckin’ Portishead with that one, eh.”

“Yep, ‘spose so.”

Third place in the SpeakEasy – No one is more surprised than I.  No one is more honored than I.  Too cool.  Too cool.

Rules:
• Your post must be dated April 6, 2013, or later.
• Submissions must be 750 words or fewer.
• Submissions must be fiction or poetry.
• You must include the following sentence ANYWHERE in your submission: “Two young hares, rump to rump like dueling pistols, crouched by the gate.”
• You must also include a reference to the media prompt

The Clever Raven and the Mountain Lion

Without a word, she dropped to the ground. She was no longer in fear; she knew that the lion could never frighten her again.

This is the story of a mountain lion who, one day while walking through the wood, spied a clever and alluring young raven perched high in a tree. He was immediately captivated, and fell madly in love with her. He was so smitten that he immediately asked for her hand in marriage. He asked her to come down from her high branch so that they might live together in wedded bliss for the rest of their days.

She declined. And offered, by way of explanation, that she would not live her life in constant fear. Fear of having such a powerful and dangerous mate. Fear of being crushed or torn to pieces by the lion whilst in the throes of passion.

But the lion pressed, so smitten was he, “What can I do to prove my devotion to you, fair raven?”

The clever raven thought and finally offered the lion a challenge that she hoped would dissuade him, “You can prove your devotion by bringing me a gift. Bring me food.” She believed that he would fail and this would discourage further advances.”

The lion turned and dashed into the forest. The next morning when the raven awoke she looked down and spied the lion with a dead stag clutched in his maw. He dropped the deer when he spoke, “My love, I have brought you a deer. There is no finer meal to be found in the forest than fresh deer.”

“Oh my,” said the raven. “Birds, such as I, do not eat deer, we eat fruit, berries, grains and small animals but nothing so large as this. This will never do. I cannot marry you lion. You would never understand me.”

But, the lion would not be discouraged, and he continued to press. To the great dismay of the clever and alluring young raven, his attentions even increased. Each morning she would wake to find dead animals and other prizes stacked at the base of her tree but, she continued to spurn the advances of her eager suitor. Then one morning upon awakening the raven found the lion silently scaling her tree. She feared for her life and knew she must do something to permanently discourage his amour. The lion was nearly upon her when she raised her wings to ensure his attention and she spoke, “Alright good sir. I will wed thee but, your great teeth and your long claws frighten me. Prove your devotion by having your teeth pulled and your claws shorn to the nub. Do these things and I will join you in matrimony.”

The lion looked fixedly at the object of his desires, grinned toothily, and climbed down from the raven’s tree, which he had ascended. “Wait here my love, I will return in haste.”

But, he was gone for three days. On the morning of the fourth day the raven awoke to find her paramour pacing at the base of her tree. “Good morning sir,” she squawked down to him. “Have you heeded my wishes? Are we to be wed?”

He looked at her perched high above and smiled. Truly he had not a single tooth left in his head. “See how much I love you,” he crooned.

“Come up here and let me get a closer look,” the clever raven implored.

The lion leapt onto the trunk of the tree and immediately dropped again to the ground. He did this time and time again. The raven could see that his fearsome grapnels had been shorn and he could not gain purchase to climb the tree. Not even nubs remained where his mighty claws had once been. Without teeth or claws the lion was harmless; the clever and alluring raven looked down at him and without a word, she dropped to the ground. She was no longer afraid, she knew that the lion could never frighten her again.

Here are the rules:
• Your post must be dated March 30, 2014, or later.
• Submissions must be 750 words or fewer.
• Submissions must be fiction or poetry.
• You must include the following sentence as the FIRST line of your submission: “Without a word, she dropped to the ground.”
• You must also include a reference to the media prompt.