Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are advance, pander and shuffle. Something short and, well, not so sweet.

Penitence
He shuffles on aging legs, the soles of his shoes making a shish-shish sound from the course sandpaper he’s glued there.
The bus lurches from the curb and passengers use the rocking motion to stash bags, adjust their asses to the hard plastic seats.
Once moving, he starts to dance, scuffing the sandpaper across the aisle, the wide cuffs of his maroon trousers swishing to the sound.
In a rich baritone, he breaks into “You are My Sunshine.”
He moves down the aisle, shaking a brown paper lunch bag at eye-level as he sings, nodding when someone drops in their pocket change into the bag, it’s top edges carefully folded down.
“The other night dear, as I lay sleeping…”
He’s pandering hard to all the passengers, yet he seems to target the women especially hard, smiling as he sings, a gap-toothed grin that’s altogether creepy.
He locks eyes on one passenger, swings his head back and forth as he sings, advances.
She’s uncomfortable.
He knows, he always knows.
“I dreamed I held you in my arms…”
He shakes the bag where only she can peer in, getting a glimpse of the yellowed bones of a tiny fetus.
“When I awoke dear, I was mistaken,” he sings, a snarl replacing the smile. “And I hung my head and cried.”
Tears streaming down her cheeks, she tosses a balled up $20 into the sack, pleading with her eyes for him to move along.
Smiling again, he’s already locked eyes on his next target.
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…”

A Fiction in 58

My own meme invention, a Fiction in 58 is an amuse-bouche of a story; a quick little bite.


Metro
Frustration spreads across his face, a crimson blossom. He speaks in clipped sentences, pleading for passage. The transit worker grits her teeth. She’s had enough and puts a hand up to his chest, lowers her head, shakes.
While paramedics tend to the woman crumpled at the base of the stairs.
“Bitch shoudda known better,” he says, stomping away.

New York, Day 53

So I’m sitting on a park bench in Central Park, eating a whole wheat bagel (toasted) with a schmear of walnut/raisin cream cheese, Trinity sitting on the grass next to me, when weatherman Al Roker power-jobs by and says, “Hey, beautiful dog.”
That was my New York experience Saturday, the 52nd day in the city.
Sunday, I got up, walked with Trin to the farmer’s market at Columbia University, got a coffee and some fresh, warm apple cider doughnuts and sat in Morningside Park, soaking in the late-fall sun.
I’ve hit day 53 in My Year of Living Dangerously in New York. I’m employed (two part-time jobs, working retail and as a dog-walker plus two freelance contracts) and I’m happy.
Seriously happy.
I will admit that everything here hasn’t been easy. The first 25 days were rough. I came here with two suitcases, Trinity, my computer, a lawn chair and an inflatable bed. Not having your belongings can make for some restless nights.
But I shrugged it aside and used the time to explore.
And continue to do so.
Once the holidays are over, I’ll get into a good work rhythm, a good writing rhythm and continue to observe, explore.
It’s all good.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are clutch, delight, happy.


Tutor, Unrequited

The sun is warming and it chokes the autumn breeze into temporary submission that allows people to throw off their coats and sweaters, their cashmere scarves.
Workers escape their office confines and cubicles, flee to open park benches to sun themselves.
There’s a couple reading to one another from a battered paperback. They sit close, sharing sips of coffee from a tall, stainless steel mug they set between them on the concrete.
She’s all serious focus during her turns. Clutching the book with both hands, she squints at the type, speaks clearly, yet cautiously.
Dressed in layers of blacks and grays, ripped jeans and knee-length boots, she’s compact in her posture. One leg over the other, her shoulders droop slightly.
There’s a confidence about him, part of the age difference, and he listens intently, eyes closed, an arm rests across the bench, his hand positioned on her shoulder.
As she reads, she brushes stray locks of hair, shiny and black, away from her glasses.
He wears a battered olive-green baseball cap three-quarters backward that covers the short-cropped hair graying at his temples. His chinos are worn, frayed at the cuffs. His dress shirt is equally worn and he wears it untucked, the sleeves rolled to his elbows. He throws his left knee over his right, opposite of how she sits.
The book is written in French and he stops her from time-to-time to correct her pronunciation, or to clarify a passage. At these times she bites her lower lip until it goes white. The gesture secretly makes him happy. A feeling that she’s totally his, in that precise moment.
Surrendering the book, she takes a long sip of coffee, readjusts herself. She leans into him as he reads, crossing her arms, idly rubbing her upper arm.
Adjusting his glasses, he holds the book in one hand, his thumb between the pages, four fingers across the spine. His other arm rests across her back and as he reads, makes and O with his thumb and index finger while the remaining three digits fan the air like a conductor giving direction to the orchestra.
The moment is broken when a young man in a Navy pea coat and black wool slacks walks up, mobile phone to his ear. She stands suddenly, nearly knocking the book away, and tosses her arms across the boy’s shoulders. He moves the phone from one ear to the other, lightly kisses her cheek in the process.
There is delight in her eyes as she rushes to pack up her backpack, and chatters excitedly with her suitor with animated hands.
Adjusting his cap, he places a leather bookmark into the book, sets it on his lap, screws a smile onto his face.
The boy extends a hand, still talking into the mobile, and the man stands, grabs it, pumps once, twice, and lets go.
The book tumbles to the ground. She rescues it, slips it into her pack, and follows her young man, who is moving through the crowd, putting up distance.
She turns, blows the man a kiss, waves.
He sits, draws his own pack to him, stops.
And rubs his hands across his chinos with speed and friction, looking around to see if anyone comprehends his frustration, humiliation.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are gesture, immediate and treasure.

Visitation
The shop is crowded, but they find a table with three chairs and sit, even though the boy is immediately more concerned about the window, what’s outside.
“Hey buddy, turn around and eat your bagel, OK?”
“But daddy, there’s a dog at my bike,” the boy says, turned in his chair, his small hands clutching its back. He has blond hair that’s obviously still being cut at home, blocked and slightly uneven. He wears a small leather fighter jacket, covered in flight insignia patches with a faux sheepskin collar. Over his eyes, chunky white-framed sunglasses with dark lenses.
The bike is his everything, his treasure. So new, the whitewall tires show no smudges. It’s silver, with black and purple stripes.
The training wheels are hard white plastic and are still showroom fresh.
“He’s sniffing it!”
“No, buddy, the woman is just tying him up so she can come in here. He won’t hurt it, I promise. Turn around and let’s eat.”
There’s a tired sadness in his eyes as he smiles at his son. His hair is the same straw-colored blond, but there’s the hint that he’s recently worn it high and tight, a Marine or Ranger clipper cut. He’s unshaven, wearing a gray hoodie under a jeans jacket. His hands unwrap the boy’s bagel, plain toasted with a schmear of cream cheese. The hands are calloused, cuticles chewed and scabbed over to the quick.
“What is this?” the boy asks.
“It’s a bagel, like a round sandwich, but for breakfast. See, watch.”
Wounded hands unwrap the parchment of his own bagel, sesame toasted with a healthy schmear of cream cheese. He stirs his coffee while chewing.
The boy slides up in his seat, a simple brushed metal folding chair that matches the brushed metal table, which is small and round and covered with the detritus of other’s bagel meals.
“It’s very messy,” the boy says, cream cheese on his fingers, the corner of his lips.
“Yeah, buddy, it can be, but watch me OK?”
The sesame bagel is deconstructed into four crescent moons.
“Mine, do mine,” the boy shouts.
Even undone, the boy picks at the bread, takes a taste, drops it on the paper and it falls cream cheese side down.
“Did you have breakfast already?”
“Kyle made pancakes,” the boy says, squirming in his chair to check on his bike. “And eggs.”
He's hurt. He moves a hand to his chest, a gesture that suggests he’s checking for the knife hole into his damaged heart. He raises his eyes to the ceiling, takes a deep breath.
And snaps his attention back to the boy.
“Hey, I’m learning how to cook,” the man says, corralling the boy’s bagel back onto the paper. “What should we have for dinner, I’m gonna cook it.”
“Steak.”
“Steak? Really? Yeah, we can do steak. But get this, last week I cooked a turkey. I was thinking we could make turkey pot pie and you can help, OK, buddy? But we have to get to the grocery store for that. I wish grammy would hurry.”
The boy sneaks a backward glance at the bike, takes a bite of bagel, chews.
There’s an awkward silence between them. The man stares at the boy intensely, a tired smile breaks across his face. Another deep breath, a long, deep sigh. There is love in his eyes, but also a sorrow. He rubs his fingers across his lips, across his eyes, the bridge of his nose.
The shop is getting busy and someone asks if they can have the open chair at the table. He nods an OK.
“Looks like grammy doesn’t get to sit, buddy. That’s OK, we’ve got plenty to do. You know buddy,  I’m thinking we should put up Christmas lights in your room. And maybe we should set up your aquarium. What do you say, buddy?”
The boy is consumed with the bike, but turns and smiles.
“Kyle says I won’t need my wheels when I’m 6,” the boy says, touching a cream cheese smeared finger across his left hand, counting out to six.
Hands become fists on the table, there’s a moment of violence in them, but the man relaxes, splays his fingers across the cool aluminum tabletop.
“Hey, Bryce, hey buddy, look at me,” the man says in a near-whisper. “Look at me and tell me that mommy’s happy.”

OneWord, Lousy

OneWord is a quick prompt that gives you a word and 60 seconds to write.
The word? Lousy.

He whispers a silent prayer, hands clutched tight around the cold steel of the 6 train so his knuckles go white, and bows his head to hands. Lips still mumbling, he cracks an eye open. Then the other. He snaps them closed. The train is lousy with them. Infidels. He tries to not let them in, let their voices infect his mind, but he feels their eyes searching for a way in. The train lurches to a stop, steel doors open and he jumps to his escape.
The crude pipe bomb ticking in a canvas bag.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are abrupt, kernel and wield.



Appreciation

There’s no bench in front of the Pollock, so she sits on the thin, gray carpet covering the floor, legs sprawled out toward the canvas, her arms a double kick-stand behind her back. He notices that her wrists have gone white without a steady flow of blood.
Her expression isn’t one of awe, more scowl than appreciation, he thinks. Waves of emotion move across her face, a canvas of swirling emotion.
He stands slightly behind to her right, wanting to soak in Jackson Pollock’s sweeping work, a canvas measuring 8-foot, 9-inches by 17-feet, 3-inches in which Pollock wielded sticks, knives and a turkey baster to create an image that is continuously on the move.
She’s centered on the painting, her black, knee-length boots nearly touching the gray cord warning patrons they’ve gotten too close. When she stretches her toes, which she does often as the expressions vary across her face, the boots nearly strum the cord, as if to pluck a single guitar string.
Impatient, he taps a toe of his Converse All-Stars and pleads with his eyes toward the ever-watchful docent, dressed in her blue blazer and maroon scarf. She can only shrug her shoulders and smile, weakly.
There’s only one place to be when looking at Autumn Rhythm No. 30. He knows this. It’s from a standing position at it’s center, left foot slightly in front of the right with arms crossed at the chest. In that position, it allows his peripheral vision to swirl messages to the brain.
It is this kernel of truth now ruined by this vulgar woman stretched out on the floor.
Sniffing deeply, he moves back a step, centers himself on the Pollock, closes his eyes. Breathing deep, with a certain sense of purpose, he opens his eyes.
And looks down at the woman, who now has her head tilted back, looking at him, a strange smile on her face.
“Excuse me, but you’re kinda creeping me out back there,” she says. “I mean, you’re practically standing right on top of me.”
Cheeks flush, he’s at a loss for what to say. She smiles, tilts her head, sending her dirty-blond ponytail swishing across the black leather of her jacket.
Collecting himself, he flips his sport coat back, places his hands on his hips, defiant.
“Excuse me, but you’re flopped out in front of my favorite painting in the world like a dead fish,” he says. “Plopped on the floor like a bored third-grader. It’s annoying.”
Bending at the torso, she rubs her wrists quickly, brings her feet toward her ass and stands abruptly.
She’s much taller than he’s even considered, close to 6-feet, and looks him in the eyes with pursed, red lips.
She tilts an eyebrow.
Hands now on his shoulders, she moves around him close, her front to his back. He trembles slightly.
“Down,” she says, gently putting pressure on his shoulders.
He sits, centered on the painting, his legs sprawled to the canvas, his All-Stars nearly touching the rope. To steady himself, he puts his arms behind him.
Pollock’s swirl of acrylic paint dances across his eyes, flooding his brain with messages. Waves of emotion sail across his face. A tear falls.
Kneeling behind him, pale hands on shoulders, she leans in to his neck, a lover’s move, and whispers.
“Let’s just keep this all for ourselves, shall we?”