The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP New Prompt #9- I Like Clouds



Russell woke when it was still dark. His head throbbed as the drink he’d drunk hammered on the back of his brain and stabbed needles deep into his eyes. He cursed when he banged his shin on the edge of the coffee table, which had stood in the same place for at least ten years. Maggie had arranged the furniture this way, and Russell had never changed it, never moved it. Maggie had rearranged furniture all the time, the layout never satisfied. Russell could understand running into things if Maggie had still been here, but she had left a long time ago.

When she had gone, Russell quit changing things. He rarely cleaned or cooked anymore. No one came to visit, and he seldom went out. His refrigerator was a science experiment, like a Petri dish filled with mould and fungi. The “Crisper” drawer brimmed with what he assumed to be a moss of some type, but he couldn’t be sure. It was safer not to open it. Russell lived on breakfast cereals, crackers, and potato chips. If he needed to splurge, he could always buy a pack of Fritos or a Twinkie. 

Since she had left, Russell had received three postcards from Maggie. The first one had talked about her travels through the rust belt with a peculiar friend named Gunnar. Russell had gone on a thirty-day bender. He remembered nothing after receiving the postcard until he was sprayed down with cold water, by Officer Willoughby, in the Tillamook County Jail. 

He lost his car, his cash, his credit cards, and his ID. It took five days to hitchhike back to Colorado. Once back in Denver, he found he’d lost his job as well. 

The second card had arrived a year and a half after his return home from Oregon. The photo on the front of the card was a sepia tone shot of La Tour Eiffel. On the back, written in a cramped hand, that he nevertheless recognized as Maggie’s, he read the following:

-Qui aimes-tu le mieux, homme énigmatique, dis? ton père,
ta mère, ta s«ur ou ton frère?

—Je n’ai ni père, ni mère, ni s«ur, ni frère.
—Tes amis?
—Vous vous servez là d’une parole dont le sens m’est resté
jusqu’à ce jour inconnu.
—Ta patrie?
—J’ignore sous quelle latitude elle est située.
—La beauté?
—Je l’aimerais volontiers, déesse et immortelle.
—L’or?
—Je le hais comme vous haïssez Dieu.
—Eh! qu’aimes-tu donc, extraordinaire étranger?
—J’aime les nuages… les nuages qui passent… là-bas… là-bas…
les merveilleux nuages!

He put it on the refrigerator door. It took almost a year, but eventually, he found it had been written in 1942 by Charles Baudelaire. A short piece of poetic prose titled “L’ Étranger,” he removed it from the chill box and tossed it into the trash.

The final card was the straw that broke the Camel’s back. Maggie explained, in that note that, her manservant, Gunnar, had finally lost his mind. She speculated that it must have been from the drugs he’d been taking for years. So Maggie had abandoned him in Tangier. She wrote that she could arrange a ticket for Russell if he wanted to meet her in Istanbul. She would be there in a month.



Written for The New Blog Propellant Prompt #9

This week’s prompt:

Visit TBP to see the prompt yourself. It’s magnificent – a true work of art. Go Here


The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP New Prompt #8- 637 Consecutive Days Of Sunshine



Monday morning 0630

Spring 1965

 

Daniel’s alarm clock clicked, and Jimmy Fusion, the morning jock for KQMZ – 15.90 on your AM dial was yelling the weather, “TODAY MARKS THE 637th CONSECUTIVE DAY OF SUNSHINE HERE IN THE CITY OF THE SUN, THE PASS TO THE NORTH. HIGHS ARE EXPECTED TO REACH TRIPLE DIGITS AGAIN TODAY AND, AS USUAL, THERE IS A ZERO PERCENT CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION.” Jimmy Fusion played an ad for a local glass company:

♬ Break a glass… Call Baker glass… For broken glass… Call Baker Glass… ♬

♫♪ For faster service on all your glass ♫♪ 

Phone Baker right away

♬ ♬

 

Downtown by Petula Clark played next. It had been climbing steadily up the charts since its release last fall.

 Daniel rubbed his face with both hands before climbing out of bed and walking down the hall to pee. Back in his room, he pulled on a pair of ‘big bell’ Levis and a Rolling Stones tee then, padded to the kitchen where he found Melissa.

 “Good morning, Daniel,” she said. Daniel frowned and suddenly remembered why he didn’t want to go to school today.

 “Hi, Melissa,” Daniel groaned.

 “I really wish you’d call me, Mom; I am married to your father.”

 “Sorry, don’t think that’s going to happen.” Daniel grabbed a bowl and spoon from the dish drainer, a box of Froot Loops from the cupboard above the oven, and milk from the fridge. He sat down at the breakfast table. Melissa lit a cigarette and made herself busy in the kitchen, avoiding him.

 Daniel ate fast, grabbed his school books from his room and quickly left through the front door. He would be way early for school. As Daniel walked, he thought about what had happened yesterday afternoon and knew he would hear about it today at school. After all, Melissa (Mom – he grimaced) was only four years older than he.

 Yesterday had been the 636th consecutive day of sunshine. When he got home at about three, the temperature was almost 107 degrees*. Nary-a-cloud was in the sky. He decided to go to the pool for a quick swim. So, grabbing a towel and pulling on his trunks, he headed for the community pool. Only a block and a half away. 

Sunday afternoon (one day earlier) 1515

Spring 1965

 

 Daniel walked through the door to the Cielo Vista Community Pool Clubhouse; it was a quarter after three. He smiled at Janine and showed her the membership tag that was safety-pinned to his trunks.

 “Hey Janine, sure is hot today.” Janine was beautiful; she had perpetually chapped lips, a deep suntan from lifeguarding. Her long blonde hair was bleached by the sun and damaged by the chlorine.

 She flashed her pearly whites, “Hi, Daniel,” she said, “Your Mom’s here.”

 “I doubt that. My mom lives in Fort Lauderdale with her boy-toy, Hank.”

 “Sorry, I knew that. HEY, NO RUNNING!” She yelled at a bunch of kids hurrying through – they slowed down but still were walking fast. Janine shook her head and smiled again. “I meant to say that Melissa’s here.”

 Daniel grimaced and put his head down as he moved past Janine to the showers. He put his towel on a bench and rinsed in the cold water. He continued to the pool area, where he scoped the scene. Half the girls from school must’ve been there. Melissa was there too. She posed at the deep end, preparing to dive in. She wore a tiny pink bikini. It was not much more than two small triangles on the top and a high French cut on the bottoms. He ducked his head, looked away, and spotted Bodi Hale hanging on the side of the pool, holding court with a batch of his Toadies. They were splashing water towards Donna Bustamante, who was busy trying to ignore them.

 He looked toward the deep end of the pool again just as Melissa dove. She hit the water in fine form, a shallow racing dive, but she didn’t start swimming. She was working on the dives. She slewed towards the edge of the pool, where Bodi was splashing Donna. She pushed herself up to sit on the edge of the pool.

 Daniel noticed that Melissa had lost her suit top at the exact time one of Bodi’s little buddies did.

 “TITS!” guffawed the Toadie. He pointed at Melissa’s chest.

 Bodi’s mouth dropped open. He stared.

 Daniel ignored the “No Running” rule, hustled over to Melissa, who was now red-faced and embarrassed. He draped his beach towel over her shoulders and dove straight into the pool to retrieve the missing piece of apparel, which he got and promptly returned. He levered himself to the edge of the pool, stood and walked to where Bodi and his Toadies hung on the edge.

 “Quit staring at her,” Daniel said slowly to Bodi.

 “No way, Dude. Did you see those titties?”

 “That’s my mom. You can either quit staring at her or, I can drown you.”

 Bodi shifted his attention to Daniel, “Sorry, Dude. I didn’t know.” He focused on the blue wall of the clubhouse.

 “You should probably apologize and make your little friend, there, do the same.” Daniel was fierce. 

Monday morning 0820

Spring 1965

 

Daniel pushed through the door to the English wing and headed towards his locker. He knew that half the school had seen what happened. He had no idea what to expect, but he knew he was going to hear about it.


* 107 degrees F = 41.6666 degree C



Written for The New Blog Propellant Prompt #8

This week’s prompt:

Not really this week’s prompt – The prompt is from 28.April.2021.

In your WordPress Reader, have you noticed at the top they post three suggested topics to explore? The suggestions are usually a weird combination, but always entertaining.

My suggestions today are: Cocktails; Community Pool; Groovy. Write a post inspired by these suggestions. I took out the links because it took me so long to respond.