My mother was a single mom. She was always disappointed in me. I was the firstborn, the only born, and I wasn’t a girl. She wanted a girl. I’ll bet you can see where this is going, huh?
I got dolls and dollhouses as birthday presents. A pink bicycle with a white banana seat, a woven basket, and training wheels is one of the first Christmas presents, I can remember. When I turned six, my mom enrolled me at ‘Angel Feet Ballet Academy’ in downtown Franklin. She also presented me with three sets of tights; one set a pastel blue, one was seafoam green, and the third was a bright yellow (the colour of Big Bird).
Fast forward about ten years, and I had become a pretty good dancer. While the other boys were trying out for football and lifting weights in the gym; I was trying out for parts in ‘Don Quixote’ and ‘La Bayader’ and lifting girls overhead.
When I was seventeen, I graduated from high school and got hired on as an ensemble dancer with the state corps de ballet. It came with a forty-week contract and was my first real job. It was pretty easy for me to get too. There are usually more women ensemble dancers required meaning more women get hired. There are not many men in that line of work, either. We toured back and forth across the state. We spent no more than one or two nights in any given city. I lived with and worked with women and girls. I lost my virginity after three days on the job.
I worked for the state ballet for three years. I was a corps dancer. I slept with scores of women, some young, some older, all with a similar body type. It was a great job with benefits that any young man would enjoy, but there’s not much room for advancement. An ensemble dancer, in those days, could make twenty to thirty thousand dollars a year. It was a respectable income, but for me, the lure was the girls, the women. I was one of only a few males in the business. I could talk to the girls about what they loved, dance. I got a lot of attention. Ah, but that was a long time ago.
In the hope of advancing my career, I danced in theatre, film and television. I was never well known. I chased skirts more than I worked, and I got old. Nothing lasts forever, eh?
These days I still dance. I make instructional videos that I sell online. I run an Arthur Murray Studio in the evenings. I continue to meet a lot of women. I still sleep with a lot of women, but these days they are mostly bored housewives. Women who are looking for someone to spend time with while their husbands travel for business. They press themselves up against me and grope my crotch. It’s just not the same.
Not the same at all.
This week’s prompts were:
What was the impact of the first job held?
What was it about the best job held that makes it stand out from the others?
What about a job that fell short of hopes, dreams or expectations?
The job lost: What was going on that lead to a dismissal, or what happened as a result?
The boss, colleagues, co-workers, business partners, customers, clients, guests…What about them?
Keisha crossed her fingers and tried to remain inconspicuous as she wove through the crowd of students in the hallway of the new English wing. Three Seventy-two was near the end of a long bank of lockers, lower row, left-hand side and assigned to Darius Carter.
Darius was a senior at Paxton High School. He was tall and incredibly good looking, at least Keisha thought so and, she wanted to let him know what she thought. She had spent two weeks drafting a note asking him out on a date. Not just any date though, Keisha was inviting Darius to Homecoming. She had spoken, at length with her Bibi about Darius. Bibi, in all her wisdom, had told Keisha that if she felt that strongly about the young man, she should ask him out.
Keisha however, was a bit reluctant at first, plagued by that Chet Baker song, worried that she might be “falling in love too easily.” Then she decided that Bibi was right. Keisha truly wanted to go to Homecoming with Darius, and so had to ask him. She was also reasonably convinced that he would go with her. She was sure that she wanted to go with him.
Clutching the damp piece of paper Keisha hesitated for only a moment before slipping the note in the locker. She moved on, not having much time left to get to 5th period English class.
This week’s prompts were:
Though she wasn’t one for gossip, Mrs. Jamison knew exactly who had started the fire.
One thing was certain: The mission was doomed from the beginning.
Keisha hesitated for only a moment before slipping the note in the locker.
He’d been wildly, savagely hungry for as long as I’d known him.
Bruce makes pretty good money but not good enough for this.
He’s spent fifteen years at Williams Trucking, now he’s smoking on the edge of Piñon Street waiting for the cops to show up.
He listens to the Andrews kid who continues with his bitching and berating.
Bruce thinks that Danny Andrews is worried about the ass chewing he’ll get when his momma finds out what he did to her car.
Finally he can take it no longer and flicks his cigarette towards the Tesla as he walks back to his truck.
He’ll wait in the comfort of the cab till the authorities arrive.
He’s tired of listening to the ‘smack talking’ little trust fund baby.
This week’s prompts was a challenge and a lot of fun. It’s a story in and of itself. I thought about it a lot, but didn’t add much, I just chose a perspective and let it stand on it’s own:
“A driver, driving through a familiar neighbourhood of houses and condominiums, comes upon the completely out-of-place site of a two-tiered semi for car transport parked in the left-turn median. The truck is full of newer models of various cars. Nothing cheap, but nothing special. A generic, new-ish model sedan with its hazards flashing is stopped behind the tractor/trailer. What catches the driver’s attention is the young man standing on the sidewalk, taking pictures with his phone of the sedan. Another young man walks over to give the man a pat on the shoulder. The truck driver, who is also standing on the sidewalk, flicks his cigarette into the street and walks back to the truck’s cab.”
Maria Andretti sat at the wheel of her shiny #12. It had been custom built to her specifications by her boyfriend and personal fabricator, Dodge Eisert. Dodge’s cars didn’t look like the ones her father had driven, back in the day, but Maria thought they performed well and handled adequately.
She smiled at Dodge and the rest of her crew as they manoeuvred #12 to the starting line, pole position to wait for the gun. She felt confident. She felt strong.
The horn speaker mounted atop the pole issued the command, “Drivers, start your engines,” and Dodge crouched behind #12 pretending to crank it over.
Maria allowed an appropriate amount of time and went, “VROOOM, VROOOM, VROOVROOVROOOOMMMMM!” #12 sounded great, all cylinders were firing and she crouched behind the wheel in anticipation of the gun.
She used her foot to check that her handbag was secure. She touched her goggles, and crossed herself the way her Nonna had done before each of her father’s races.
“BANG- and they’re off!”
This week’s prompts were picture prompts. I chose this one:
Back in the day I believe I chose the burning Christmas tree.
“Look, Grandpa, an old pair of ballet slippers.”
“Silver or pink?”
“Oh, those are mine.”
“Here’s a picture of a lady with a gun.
It looks like that gun over there, leaned against the wall.”
“Better give me that, boy. Don’t tell your Grandma ‘bout it, neither.
What else are you finding in that box?”
“Well, here’s a broken coffee cup, and a book, and there’s this thing.
I don’t know what it is.”
“Oh, you better give me that too; and don’t mention nothing ‘bout that
to your Grandma’ neither.”
This week’s prompt:
Objects in a Box: Write a post about the five things below you/your character find in a box.
A framed photo of an unknown woman in a WWII military uniform with 4 medals on her uniform holding a rifle.
A very worn pair of pink ballet slippers.
A cracked ceramic mug
A copy of the novel “Letters from the Earth” by Mark Twain with a handwritten note in an unfamiliar language on the inside cover.
A small, strange decorative brass box shaped somewhat like a clover, with a hinged lid and a three-inch panhandle
Jessica had only planned to write a short story that night, so when she got the text from “Sitters-dot-Com” offering her a job with the Yates family at the big old house across from the cemetery (the actual address was #13 Cemetery Creek Road). She took it.
The dispatcher told her that there was only one pre-schooler that he was potty trained, that he had an eight o’clock bedtime, and that the parents should be home before midnight. It sounded like an easy gig and Jess could use the money. She could take her laptop along and finish the story she needed to write for her favourite prompt site before the parents came home.
Jess’ mom dropped her off at 6 pm sharp, “Sorry Jess, I’ve gotta run. You have your cell, right? Call me if you need a ride home.”
“Thanks, Mom.” Jessica looked across the street at the old graveyard. She thought about how it looked kinda spooky in the dark, tilting headstones, gaps in the old wrought iron fence (the fence that was almost overgrown by ivy). She heard the hoot of an owl, shuddered and turned her attention to the house.
The architecture was Queen Anne style with asymmetrical towers and fancy ornamentation. The paint was peeling on the wooden siding and a lot of English Ivy grew up the trellises and onto the roof. The name on the mailbox was Yates.
Oh, Jessica thought. The house is even more spooky than the cemetery! She began picking her way up the crooked walk to the front porch, where she knocked on the door and held her breath. She heard barking and growling from the other side of the door. It was obvious that the Yates’ had a dog.
Soon, she also heard a woman’s voice, “Ulf, get down. Go back into the kitchen. That’s a good boy, Ulf. Good boy.” The door swung open and there stood a petite lady. She looked about thirty years old. She had blonde wavy hair, cut short, but not quite a bob. The lady smiled at Jess with her mouth, but not her eyes. She displayed bright red lipstick painted on to make her face look as though her lips were forever pursed or puckered.
“Oh hello, you must be Jessica,” the woman said. “You have an excellent review on Sitters-dot-com and I’m so excited to meet you and introduce you to Rollin.” Then almost as an afterthought, she added, “Rollin is our son. He’s four years old and he’s having dinner in front of the television right now. Follow me, please and I can get you two acquainted. He’s a wonderful boy.” She turned and began to lead Jessica deeper into the house.
The house was larger than Jessica could have imagined and the two walked for what seemed like a long time. Finally, Ms Yates stopped at a door roughly midway down a long corridor. The walls were lined with identical doors and lots of paintings. They were primarily portraits of old-timey people. There were paintings of men with funny whiskers and ladies wearing elegant printed, or embroidered, gowns. There were young boys dressed in shorts with starched white shirts tucked in at the waist. There were young girls in frilly pink and white dresses with scores of petticoats evident beneath.
Ms Yates turned the knob on the door and pushed it open partway, she peeked around the edge of the door. “Rollin?” she queried, “are you in here?” Jess could hear the muted sound of the TV from behind the open door. Ms Yates pushed the door open further and beckoned Jessica to follow.
“Rollin?” she said to the small boy sitting on the floor with a plate in front of him. “This is Jessica. She’s going to be your babysitter tonight. You remember that your father and I must attend that horrible silent auction for whatever charity it is that he’s supporting this month.” She paused for a moment, “Say hello to Miss Jessica.”
“Hello, Miss Jessica,” Rollin turned his head before immediately refocusing his attention back to the television and his dinner. Jess could make out a heap of mac and cheese along with some sort of red meat on his plate. The meat was almost gone.
Ms Yates was glowing when she turned her attention back to Jess. It looks like he’s almost done,” she said, “When he finishes he might like to play Chinese Checkers or Go Fish. Those are his two favourite games. The Checkerboard and the cards are in that cabinet, there.” She gestured across the room at an ornate Chinese pantry. Then she moved over to a table, that looked more like a plant stand, by the door. Reaching down, she removed a small piece of paper from a silver tray situated precisely in the centre of the table. She proffered the card to Jessica. Who, of course, reached out and took it.
“Here is one of my cards,” she explained, “my mobile number is there. Please call me if you have any questions or problems. I have attached emergency numbers to the refrigerator with a blue glass magnet. To find the kitchen, go back the way we came and turn left. Please help yourself to anything in the icebox that you might want to eat or drink. I’ve got to go now or I’ll be late.” She stared at Jessica as if she were waiting for something.
Jess broke the standoff by saying, “Have a wonderful evening Ms Yates. I’ll take good care of Rollin.”
“I’m sure you will, dear,” Ms Yates said. She turned and left the room without another word.
Jessica listened to her move down the corridor and out a door. She heard a car engine start and move away from the house.
In her turn, Jess went over and sat on the floor next to Rollin. “How’s your dinner Rollin? It looks pretty yummy. I love mac and cheese.”
He looked at her and then turned back to the TV. “Good.” He said.
The boy seemed to be eating well and was fully absorbed in whatever it was that he was watching on the small screen. Jessica settled in, but after a while, she heard someone moving back in the house.
“Is anyone else here, Rollin?” she asked.
“My brother might be here.” He answered. “He’s big, like you.”
At that moment the door opened and an older boy, sixteen or seventeen years of age, entered the room. He wore an old fashioned suit made of dark velvet. He wore his dark hair stylishly long. It glistened as though it were wet. He seemed startled when he saw Jessica sitting next to Rollin.
“Hello,” he said, “I thought only Rollin was in here. Who might you be?” He smiled, and Jessica could feel her heart melt. She now knew what people meant when they said love at first sight.
Standing up, Jess walked toward the young man with her hand held out. “Hi, I’m Jessica. I’m here babysitting for Rollin. I’m afraid that Ms Yates has left for the evening.”
“Good evening Jess. I’m Rollin’s brother Ulf.”
The prompt this week was:
The “Four Food Groups” of a sentence game is fun! How to play: Create your own prompt by mixing/matching one phrase from each column. Example: On a ski trip, a deceitful novelist accidentally reveals a secret.
In a moonlit graveyard, a shy babysitter falls in love with the wrong person.
It’s not inexpensive to live in Shimbashi, a bustling business district in the centre of the Minato Ward, not far from Ginza and Toranomon. Kentaro was a punk, but his father was a salaryman at Japan Railways. They lived in a rent controlled apartment 6 minutes’ walk from the Shimbashi Station.
Masumi worked as an office girl at Fujitsu. Every weekday morning she would travel to Shimbashi for work. The last leg of her commute was on the Yamanote line. One particular morning in 1984, she was hurrying through the station, on her way to work. The train had been a few minutes late and her boss; Tanaka-san had a conference call this morning at 0900. She almost didn’t notice that recreant, Kentaro, in the station but when he reached out and slapped her on the ass; she couldn’t help but see him. The look in his dark eyes seared into her memory, but she had no time and chose to ignore the disrespect. She hurried to help Tanaka-san. By the end of the day only Masumi’s pride still stung and she put the incident out of her mind.
She continued her education as well as her work at Fujitsu. She climbed the corporate ladder. Only 10% of women her age held management positions and Masumi was one of them although her income was still well below that of her male peers. Her time with the company combined with her engineering degree and talent ensured her security.
One morning Masumi’s assistant, a young girl named Hide, advised her boss that she had scheduled a short meeting with a fastener salesman named Fusanosuki Kentaro, from Shikoku who happened to be in the capital and wanted to stop by and leave a few catalogues. He had wrangled an appointment through Hide by mentioning that he had grown up in the Shimbashi area. He said that his old mother was ill and if he could make a sales call then his company would pay for his trip. He claimed not to have the money himself and wanted to see his mother one last time before she died. He pleaded with Hide and she hadn’t the heart to turn him away. She had caved.
That afternoon Masumi kept the salesman waiting only a short time. When she and her staff entered the conference room, Kentaro looked up from his laptop computer. Masumi immediately recognized his dark eyes. She felt the impact of his hand again on her buttock. She was angry, she was ashamed, and she instantly determined to make him pay. She smiled at him and pulled a business card from her notebook and offered it to her guest.
I don’t know why, but I went to Japan with this one. The link to the prompt is the photo!
Big Nick Dixon was nursing a dirty martini, trying to give off a strong ‘LEAVE ME ALONE’ vibe when the older couple approached him at the bar. She was probably in her late sixties, maybe her very late sixties, with a blue wash on her hair, a heavy polyester dress suit, and sensible shoes. He appeared to be a few years older than she. He wore Bermuda shorts that accented his saggy knees, one of those tropical shirts, and a straw fedora. Neither of them looked like they had been missing any meals but they looked happy and they were holding hands. They looked like a couple of tourists on vacation at the beach from Nebraska or somewhere like Nebraska.
“Scuse me, young fella,” the old guy said, “these seats taken?”
Nick shrugged and the couple sat down.
“Thanks, sonny,” the old man continued, “we’re both getting a little hard of hearing and don’t want to sit too close to the jukebox, in case some fool starts playing it. Know what I mean? Know what I mean?”
“See, Saul,” the blue-haired woman said, “he does look a lot like Pick. A younger Pick for sure but he looks a lot like Pick. Don’tcha think?”
The old man scrunched his eyes and looked at Nick, “Maybe so, Lenore; maybe a bit around the eyes. The hairline’s the same though. No doubt about that.” He put his hand on Nick’s shoulder, “Son, you wouldn’t happen to be Big Dick Nixon would ya? Nephew of Pick Dixon from Kansas City Missoura?”
This got Nick’s attention and he growled at the old man, “First of all, my name is Big Nick Dixon, not Big Dick Nixon. I don’t know if you think you’re being funny, but I fail to see the humour. Second of all, I have an uncle in Kansas City, but his name’s Edwin Dixon. I don’t know anybody named Pick.”
Lenore slapped the back of her hand on Saul’s shoulder, “Edwin,” she laughed out loud, “damn; don’t that beat all. No wonder he went by Pick. Can you imagine being named Edwin for your whole life? Shit… Edwin, Ha.”
When the bartender came over to get the old couple’s order Lenore was giggling to herself, her large girth shaking like a bowl of Jell-O; every so often she would say, “Edwin” again and laugh a little harder.
Saul ordered a gin and tonic for Lenore and a Jack, neat for himself. As the bartender went to fetch the drinks, Saul turned his attention back to Big Nick. “OK,” he said, “You are obviously Pick’s nephew. He told us we might find you here, and look, here you are.” The barman came by and set napkins and drinks in front of Saul and Lenore.
Nick turned and squared up with Saul, they were both big men, “What the hell do you want old man?”
“I want you,” Saul said, “or at least I want to hire you. Your uncle told us that you’re a pretty good thief, a cat burglar… know what I mean?”
“Stop right there,” Nick interjected, “I never steal cats. I’m a second story guy. I didn’t never take no cats. Wait, you know my Uncle Edwin?”
Lenore waved her hand and sipped her drink, “Relax, Dick.” she said, “It’s the same thing. It’s the same thing, and yes, we knew your Uncle Edwin.”
“What do you mean you knew Uncle Edwin?”
Unfortunately, Pick passed on last week – had a heart attack at the ponies in Greenwood County.” She paused for a minute and then added, “That’s in Kansas ya know.” She paused again and asked, “What do the girls call you? Do they call you ‘Big Dick’ or just ‘Dick’?”
My prompt was: A misunderstood burglar receives shocking news.
Ten quid and all the time in the world, that’s what Nigel had in his pocket when he pushed open the garden gate and stepped out onto the pavement. He turned up towards the High Street and started whistling a nameless tune, he was going to get a bite at the new Chinese take-away and eat it at the pub. He quite fancied a pint or two with his mates – Ginny was working tonight too so that was a bonus.
At the Mei Garden Take-Away he got a double order of Kung Pao Chicken. Mrs. Lee packed it up and sent him on his way. He went straight to the Royal Oak and was pleased to see Ginny behind the bar, William and Paul were holding down a small table by the window.
“Evenin’ Ginny,” he said, “Can I have a pint o’ Best and another of whatever Paul and William are each havin’ for them.”
She nodded, “whatcha got in the bag, Nigel?” she asked him. “Better not be cats!”
He leaned in close and whispered, “I got some take-away from that new Chinese place up the road. Can ye bring us a couple o’ plates and some forks too, Ginny?”
“Aww, geeze Nige,”she screwed up her face, “ye canna let Malcolm see ya eatin’ outside food in here. He’ll lose it!”
Nigel smiled at her and she put three bowls and three forks on the bar, “go on then, eat fast and bring these back here as soon as ye finish, so I can wash ’em up. I’ll fetch the beers.”
Nigel leaned over the bar and gave her a peck on the cheek, “Yer a peach Ginny, ya are.” He turned and headed over to the table with William and Paul. “Hail fellows well met,” he bellowed as he doled out the bowls and split up the Kung Pao. Then more softly he added, “Eat quickly lads or face the wrath of Maid Ginny and Sir Malcolm.”
They all tucked into their food. Ginny brought a round of drinks and when they finished, Paul took the incriminating evidence back to the bar. Their crime had gone undetected, as Malcolm was still out back, doing whatever it was that he was doing back there.
Nigel went through the bag but Mrs. Lee had only sent one fortune cookie.
“We only got the one, lads,” Nigel said to his mates. “I reckon we oughta give it to Ginny on account o’ her being so accommodatin’ an all.” It was agreed; and when she brought the next round they presented her the biscuit with plenty of fanfare and aplomb. She opened it straightaway, studied the small slip of paper for a moment, folded it in half and slipped it into her brassiere; she winked at the lads and turned back to the bar.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, Ginny, what’s it say?” they all asked.
Ginny just looked back at them over her shoulder, she smiled, popped half of the cookie into her mouth, and kept walking. She waved to Mr. Skipworth as he came through the door.
OK – I’m going to tread all over TBP territory and issue a challenge. If you actually read all the way to the end of this, and you’re not too shy. Continue it on your blog and link it back to TBP here. This, of course, will be in addition to your response to the original prompt.