OneWond - Arrow

OneWord is a writer's prompt that relies on speed, agility and the ability to tell a story in 60 seconds. Today's word is "arrow."

It took but one sling from her arrow, a glancing look and the hint of a smile, to enthrall all his senses. She was an archer with an affinity for hearts of young boys who knew no better. And she'd been a huntress for years and years now. She loved to watch their faces melt after being struck, seeing her child in the car seat.

OneWord - Shoes

OneWord is an exercise in swiftness. Sixty seconds and one word to write about. That word today? Shoes.

"Shine?"
The man stood there, collar up against the cold, and stabbed the worn tip of his black lace-ups against the concrete. He probably didn't have the money for it, you could see the wheels turning, but those shoes needed some TLC.
"I'll take good care of you. Let me at them shoes, and you'll be seeing your face every time you look down."
He climbed into the chair and I went to work.
"I've got a job interview," he said, absently.
"There's a special rate for that," I said, knowing that this was one of those no-tip opportunities.
Just doing my part for the economy.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are incubate, nightmare and vanity.

Lurid
Buddy of mine has a nice little cottage industry going.
He’s a nightmare miner.
And in these troubling times, he’s got more work than one man can handle.
So I go to work for him, part time.
He’s pretty anal about the boost. He wants the fear to incubate, bubble on the stove, so to speak. He likes to mine the feed at the crescendo of dread, as people wrestle with their personal demons, thrashing as they do in the gloom with a light sheen of sweat in twisted sheets.
I don’t mind jumping the feed, watching along as people’s shit gets weirder by the second.
Used to be, when my dad was a kid, a buzz meant beer and some weed. We’re way past that these days.
We sell the nightmares to kids looking for an adrenal thrill. They’ll take a hit of neurotrin and boost our ill-gotten feeds from their handhelds.
A good, terror-filled feed is worth a shitload of credits.
He discovered this early, like right when we all switched to state-run wireless, that the wall units were amplifying people’s emotions as they went about their pointless lives in concrete-boxed housing. All those units, all those feeds, it was just a matter of time before someone wrote a program to jump the feedback.
And you’d think that joyous, happy feelings would be a good seller. Pure bullshit. No spikes from the pineal gland, which is just too small and under-developed in us humans.
No, there’s nothing like when some dumbass takes a load of neuro-exciters and watches someone else’s nightmare while their adrenal gland pumps dose after dose of adrenaline into their bloodstream.
Or so I’ve heard. I’m not that stupid.
I’m in it for just one thing.
Jump a feed early, create a new stream and you can dump a double whammy back on the person. You’ll create what I can only describe as cascading terror, a waterfall of darkness that’s just pure hell on the recipient.
So far, I’ve gotten three people to swallow their tongues. Cops can’t figure it out.
And it’s not like I’m fucking up a good thing, either. Some people’s nightmares are so pedestrian. Yeah, I’ll say it. Some people are as fucking boring in their made up worlds as they are in real life.
And I’d been waiting for weeks on this one. A woman in my buddy’s office, you know the type. Flush with vanity, she never finds it necessary to talk to mere mortals like us. Bitch.
I’ve watched her feed for a couple of nights now. Her terrors?
Wrinkles, liver spots. Gray hair. Sheesh, people.
Oh, you bet I’ll be giving her a double shot of geriatric inputs.
Should be a hoot.

Tuesday's Carry on Tuesday

Carry on Tuesday is a fun writer’s prompt that takes a line from a novel or movie and asks that you include it in a story. This week, a line from Aliens:
“We'd better get back, ‘cause it'll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night... mostly.”

Outbreak
She checks the chunky mens’ watches she wears on both her skinny wrists, expensive chronograph models that charge with the sun. Amazingly, they’re still linked to the government’s atomic clock in Boulder – there’s a timepiece that took a licking and keeps on ticking - and each is correct to the millisecond.
“We'd better get back, ‘cause it’ll be dark soon, and they mostly
come at night... mostly.”
We’ve not nearly foraged enough for the evening. Too many mouths to feed, too many wounds to dress.
Too many who have the pathogen surging in their veins.
Not nearly enough bullets.
I pat her golden hair, streaked as it is with dirt and sweat.
“We’ll be OK.”
“No, we won’t,” she says, tapping the Casio on her right wrist.
Dusk is settling on the city and the fires are already being lit. Signal flares against the onslaught. A nightly battle that I’m sorry to say we’re losing.
Just not enough bullets.
And no cure.
I push the SUV past a speed that’s safe.
She senses my anxiety and puts a tiny hand on mine.
“It’s going to be OK.”
And taps both watches for affect.

Monday's Fiction in 58

Fiction in 58 is something I came up with years ago to write concise stories with less words.

Unfaithful
He wears frustration like a cloak against the cold, balled fists under his chin as eyes stare into the broken concrete. He leans on a light post in the growing darkness, natural light swallowed whole by neon and fluorescents. He feels it. The key weighing heavy in his pocket.
Her key.
Waiting for his lover’s husband to leave.

Sunday Scribblings, "Shame"

The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is “shame.”

“I read once that there's only one emotion that is just as powerful in recollection as it is on the spot. You know, when you remember an instance of being happy or sad, you don't re-experience the full happiness or sadness you were feeling then, but when you remember feeling shame, you have a physical reaction and it's just as powerful as when it was fresh. Crazy.
“So, write something about shame.”

Shame
The battlefield is eerily quiet. A mix of fog and smoke from smoldering spot blazes hovers over the broken, scarred earth. Nothing stirs, anymore not even the boys who just 15 minutes before lay bloodied and dying, calling for their mothers or their God.
He crawled from beneath a pile of death, uninjured. Hidden from view from the foxhole he dug the previous evening, and then refused to leave.
Ditching his weapon he stood weeping.
His shame a wet spot on his BDUs.

OneWord - Piano

Just time for a quick OneWord:

The teacher cracks his knuckles with a wooden ruler, and barks with a thick accent, "hand position. Again."
The result it the same. A sharp crack of the ruler across the child's small, white hands, a rash of red spreads across them both.
"Hand position. Again."
The child fights the urge for tears, lets the metronome take the pain away.
The master knew best.
And the pupil wanted so much from the dark, rich, seductiveness of the piano.

OneWord - Dial

OneWord is a writer's prompt that speaks to brevity. One word and 60 seconds to pen something.
The word of the day is "dial."

Her tears made stream tracks across the murk that covered her face, a mix of dirt, soot and God knows what else. She’d struggled against the ropes until they gave and stumbled through the cellar until she found the steps, an exit. The phone was a wall unit, avocado-green and rotary dial. The handset gave a hopeful tone.
Yet every number she rung from memory came back disconnected…

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are heartache, jangle and reckless. Sometimes, it’s fun to do some timed writing, just see what comes out. This was the result of 30 somewhat tortured minutes.

Heartache
Plunging temperatures leave a coating of frost across the fields of my parent’s farm. It’s past midnight and the harvest moon still hangs brilliant in the sky and blots out the Milky Way that usually speckles so brightly this far out of town.
I stand in the chill, reckless without a jacket, and watch my hot breath turn to short-lived clouds.
All is quiet in the world.
And then I hear it, a soft, metallic jangle in the distance.
I creep through the tangled windbreak to a pasture that rises to a hilly peak behind the house. There’s a trail of footprints stamped into the frost, tiny and barefoot.
I follow and at the apex of the hill stands a girl, her breath clouds escaping in hiccupy, short bursts. She’s quietly sobbing, and as she hugs her arms to her chest, a tangle of silver bracelets around her thin wrists clatter softly.
She wears a willowy white nightgown that shimmers in the moonlight.
I go to her.
She does not shy away at my presence.
I blow on my fists to warm them, then offer up my hands to her. She entwines her fingers within mine, and as she puts a tear-streaked cheek on my shoulder, a gasp escapes her lips.
And my heart soars on the hope that I’ve settled whatever heartache that’s befallen her.

Carry On Tuesday

Carry On Tuesday is a prompt I’ve long looked at, admired, yet have never participated.
Started by Keithsramblings, it takes a famous quote or opening lines of a book and asks that you carry on with the thought, the idea.
This week, the opening line from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.”

Advice
In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since:
“Plastics.”
I still have no goddamn idea what he’s talking about.
Then again, I never have.
And probably never will.
Thanks, dad.

Monday's Fiction in 58

Time for a Fiction in 58.

Homeless
A cold wind bounces a soda cup down the block, mostly empty but for the ones who live on the street.
No one notices the cup, or the couple, huddled invisible in a bus shelter.
She cries softly into a dirty sleeve as he pats her back rhythmically.
It’s not so much the homelessness, but the stigma attached.

Sunday Scribblings, Junk

The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is junk.

Valuables

My mother’s in the front yard, sitting as delicately as she can in one of those canvas folding chairs (two mesh cup holders) while wearing a lemon chiffon-colored sundress.
There’s blanket spread in front of her, piled with junk.
My junk.
Plastic Little League trophies, a stuffed tiger plush toy, Snoopy fishing rod and reel, stamp collection, buffalo head nickel collection, volcano science project from sixth grade, a box of tattered comics, one-man rubber raft (one oar missing), remote-controlled Porsche, slightly glue-gummied space shuttle plastic model.
Important artifacts from my childhood through late adolescence.
“Hey, what gives?” I protest.
“Oh, hi, honey,” she says as she absently smooths out crumpled $1 bills against the red, white and blue canvas stripes of the chair. “Clearance sale. Everything must go. No reasonable offer refused.”
She takes off her sunglasses and smiles.
“You have no right,” I stammer. “No goddamned right whatsoever.”
I clench my fists for effect.
“Oh, dear, but I do,” she says.
And produces a slip of yellow paper from her cleavage and hands it to me.
It’s a bill, a tally of charges across the years, in my mother’s tight, swoopy handwriting.
And I realize that I’m in hock. Up to my eyebrows.
“You don’t really have the best selection here,” I say. “Let me refresh your inventory.”

OneWord - Permission

OneWord is a fun little writing prompt that keeps the edge on your writing. You're given a word - and 60 seconds to write. That word is permission.

This was life, not high school. But he couldn't help but think back to that simpler time, when a hall pass, that little folded permission slip, was a gateway to a world without boundaries. He longed for that kind of permission now, some slip of paper that said, "Hey, this guy's got carte blanche to meander." If only to release the dreams he carried - and derail the fears.

OneWord - Trot

OneWord is a writer's prompt that asks what you can do with one word - and 60 seconds. Today's word is "trot."

His lungs strained from the pace, an all-out run with arms flailing and legs all skittish and crazy, like his hair was on fire. His body couldn’t take the pace and he slowed to a trot, turning his head left and right to see if it was still gaining on him.
Birthdays are like that, he thought.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are frustrate, indecent and understand.

Night work

I take a job as a night watchman in a seedy hotel downtown.
All sorts of human detritus lives here.
Heroin addicts with the itch, dentured hookers who give $10 blowjobs ($20 sans teeth), the nearly homeless. It’s the last stop for many, a way station on the last train outta here.
I read a dog-eared paperback on a derelict barstool across from the check-in counter, the one fronted by scratched, greasy fingerprint-marred bullet-proof Plexiglas. And try not to let the place pull me into the funk that permeates this space, like the stench of fried fish, or stale cigar smoke.
It’s easy to feel the sinking hopelessness here.
Except for her.
A sparkling ray of beauty in an otherwise pile of human shit.
She’s dressed like always, leather bikers boots and a little black cocktail dress (tonight it’s short, tight in all the right places and strapless). Her red hair is down tonight, tight curls bound off her shoulders as she sways from the elevator toward the door. Crimson lipstick makes her flawless alabaster skin resonate. Her nails are painted the color of fresh blood as well.
“Officer,” she says as she passes, gives me a wink that borders on indecent. Her eyes are the most peculiar shade of gray, with purplish highlights.
The greeting frustrates me and she knows it. The same one-word salutation. Every evening, just past midnight, when she makes her grand exit.
I mutter under my breath and she stops short, both arms poised to swing the heavy doors onto the street.
And turns.
Her eyes are storm clouds on a vast horizon. Swirling and angry.
She traces her steps, with purpose, until she’s standing in front of me, palms on those gloriously curved hips.
She flashes a toothy smile, two crowded, symmetrical rows of sharpened enamel like knife points.
“Your job is to watch over my prey, keep your mouth shut and you’ll continue to draw a breath,” she hisses. “Understand?”
And runs her serpent’s tongue across those pearly spikes.

Poetry from the Past

This was in a packet of yellowed clippings, notes and envelopes Second Sister brought back from a house-cleaning project at pop’s place recently. We figured I wrote it in my teens.

(And I think we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming.)

Memories...of Being Candid

She prided herself
on her frankness,
and her ability
to be completely candid.

She always said
exactly what she thought,
with no consideration,
for feelings.
she felt it best
to be direct.

And while that’s true
in most of what we do,
there are those times
directness
does much damage.

Though she was often told
being blunt
is not always a blessing,
she didn’t seem to care.

Then one day
she was in need
of considerate words,
and when she looked
for someone to say them,
no one was there.

Sunday Scribblings, "Bump in the Night"

The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is "bump in the night." Still working to get the place in shape and this is horribly late.

Wishes
Nights were the worst.
Semanski had his head propped on his palm, his elbow resting on the chipped Formica near the register. Between the energy drinks and the blink and buzz from the overhead fluorescent light, he was wired, edgy.
The rush, so much as was, was over. Drunks from the bars came in for smokes and road beers and now it was just Semanski – and the irritating buzz of that fucking blinking light.
“If I had a gun,” Semanski thought, “I’d put a bullet through my brain.”
The door alarm buzzed and with it strode a tall, dark man in a lemon-yellow three-button suit, a high-collar shirt the color of orange sherbet, orange tie and brown alligator half boots, with Cuban heels.
Semanski plopped his head on both palms and watch the man's agonizingly slow advance.
He goose-stepped down the aisle, touched various cellophane packages, the Twinkies, fried pork skins, broken pretzel pieces covered in honey mustard seasoning.
“Help you find anything?”
The man stopped, smiled. Bright white teeth, a picket fence of perfection. Spread his faded palms skyward and continued his slow march toward the counter.
That’s when Semanski detected the smell, like bloated road kill n a hot summer day.
The sickly-sweet stench of death.
“It’s not so much how you can help me,” Mr. Sunshine said. “But what I may be of service to you.”
And with that, pulled a gunmetal-colored .45-caliber from his jacket and spun it on the counter.
“Your wish, as they say, is my command.”
And began drumming his fingers on the Formica.
“The fuck?” Semanski said.
“No worries, I’ve got all night to wait,” Mr. Sunshine said.
And smiled.
His pearly whites now a mouthful of broken shards the color of rust, with plump, white maggots wriggling in the dark, rotted spaces.

A Saturday Fiction in 58

I've the time for a Fiction in 58.

Fickle

She picked at hearts like testing fruit, looking for bruises, thumping them for ripeness. It was a cruel diversion and she knew it, believing it was her right to harvest the best, suck the sweetness, select another. She was finicky and fickle.
He brushed past, a little close, smiled.
She licked her lips, sighed. Low fruit tasted best.

OneWord - Sprinklers

What can you write in 60 seconds? Test it out at OneWord.

The swish-swish-swish of the sprinklers brought memories flooding back to him; happy thoughts of warm lemonade and bare feet, sun-baked skin and dirt. Memories that made him long for happier times, before the cancer diagnosis, the divorce, the court-ordered anger-management courses.

Wednesday's Three word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday at fallow, limit and vocal. Poetry is not my strong suit, but it’s what came out.

Fallow
Vocal at another sunset,
a grumbling scream,
anger knows no limit,
sobs catch, heave the chest.

The heart a fallow field,
wind-swept and chilly,
seeds of hope struggle,
in a pained, infertile soul.

Another night alone,
the silence cackles electric,
drowning out simple prayers,
asking to ease the grief.

Pardon our dust

I do not have the Interwebs at my loft yet. I am at a WiFi hotspot leting everyone know that The Tension will be hit-or-miss this week. Sorry for that.

Anyway, a couple asked what the heck a loft is. Per Wikipedia:

"Loft mainly refers to two different types of rooms. It typically refers to an upper-story attic or basement of a building, directly under a roof. Alternatively, it can refer to a loft apartment, which is a large adaptable open space either created or converted for residential use."

In my case, both are true. I am on the third floor of a converted old building on Main Avenue. The building was built in 1926 (trying to find info on what it was; before it was my living space, it was home to a hotel and restaurant supply company).

It is the most coolest space I've ever lived in. Pictures soon.



OneWord - Crime

The OneWord prompt is "crime." A little 60-second stream of consciousness while I wait to see if I'll be moving to my new space today.

She had called it a crime. Barked it, spittle forming at the corners of her contorted mouth, teeth bared ugly. He thought it was more like a misdemeanor, and with time off for good behavior, he’d be back in her good graces within the day. Her lips said otherwise. Certainly not the death penalty, but the personal injury would require time behind the bars of her heart.