[Stretches her arms forward, cracks her knuckles and shakes out her hands]
Three weeks behind on nine prompts: Treat him like a sister; In case of fire; Getting out of hand; Do the authorities know you’re here?; As you slept; What became of forever?; Los pobrecitos; The present was poorly wrapped; Bottle of emotions.
[Sighs] Let’s see what can be done with all that. [Sighs again]
[Stares out the window for 10 minutes. Turns on the TV, channel surfs, turns off the TV. Gets up and pours a glass of wine. Throws a proverbial dart at the prompts to determine which one goes first]
What became of forever? Seriously, when did, “I have all the time in the world,” become, “No time like the present, for there is no knowing what tomorrow will bring”? The problem is, like a poorly wrapped gift, the present is not an enticing offer. Unless you are talking about getting some tedious chores done. No. The sort of fertile ground needed for the seeds of tremendous things in life to grow is not here, not now. Maybe I’ll just float along until after elections next year. See how I’m feeling after that.
See, the thing is, I’m just a bottle of emotions these days. God forbid, should someone shake me and loose the lid? I’ll spew all over. I’m just sayin’, in case of fire, do not, under any circumstances, break the glass. Just let me burn.
Take last weekend. We gathered at my sister’s for a family wedding; her eldest, finally past the failure-to-launch phase with a decent job and a nice girl. But, because my nephew has always had the lion’s share of his parent’s attention—desperate as they were to get him grown, out of the house and on his own two feet—there is an underlying resentment about attending the little pobrecito’s wedding. If it were up to everyone else, they’d just assume he and she elope so they can avoid yet one more family event where he is the center of attention. He’s a lot like my sister, his mother, that way. The two of them. Sucking the air out of whatever room they walk into.
Anyway, there I was at my sister’s, nerves maxed to the hilt after a day of being forced to pay attention to only them while the rest of the famn-damily went on bickering, bitching, yelling, slamming doors and giving each other the silent treatment. Wide awake at 2:30 in the morning while everyone else managed to have finally passed out drunk. All I wanted to do was bolt. Just run. Out the door, down the street, down the next street, and the next. Just keep running until I couldn’t run anymore. Or, the police stopped me (Ma’am, we received a report of a woman in her nightgown running in bare feet down one street and another. Sorry, but we’re going to have to bring you in for making an ass of yourself).
This whole hysterical state of mind is getting out of hand! I have to pull my shit together and just, whatever. Let the rest roll off my back, as they say. The family will always be the family. The job will always be the job. Nothing is perfect.
And, so, here I am. A lovely, sunny spring evening. I guess it’s true. There really isn’t anything like the present, no matter how it shows up.
Disclaimer: bits of “nonfiction,” to be sure, but this is entirely a fictional piece!
[From free image site “Unsplash”]
Finally! The sounds from the next room died down. You would think those two were making up for lost time. Truth is, I’m a little jealous. Truth is, I hate hotels. For this very reason. But I will not let them ruin my plan. My big “it’s all about me” day. I am going to wake at the crack of noon, put on one of those fluffy white robes they got, order room service, with champagne, and pancakes, with syrup, and then spend the rest of the day in the spa getting the most expensive head-to-toe pampering service they offer.
In celebration of UnOLWG’s 100th post, I wrote the above in, 1) 30 minutes, 2) in exactly 100 words. Happy “anniversary”! Prompts this week are: The sound died; Crack of noon; I won’t let them.
“One for the money, two for the road, three to get ready and go, Tigers, go!”
Therese made a mock stick landing, hands in the air and legs together. Her face beamed with silly pride.
“Of course, I used to be able to do back flips and all that stuff,” she said. “We’d step up on the boy’s knees and they would flip us over, like this…” Therese tried to pantomime how the move worked.
Paul frowned. “I never could do any of that stuff.”
“Well, gymnastics isn’t everyone’s thing.”
“I mean, I wasn’t athletic. I was more of a bookworm. I mean, I didn’t hang with the jocks. Actually, I was one of those kids that got picked on a lot.”
Therese didn’t know what she should say. She was part of the group of kids in school who made kids like Paul miserable.
Guessing the reason for the awkward moment, Paul continued. “Well, you know what they say. Opposites attract.”
“But that’s why we sign up on a web dating site, right?,” Therese laughed, “To avoid meeting stupid…” Therese stopped. Words had a nasty habit of falling out of her mouth before she knew what she was saying.
“Nothing is fail-safe. But, hey,” Paul gulped down the last of his beer, took out his wallet and placed two twenties on the table. He stood and held out his hand. “Anyway, nice to meet you. And Good luck. Meeting someone, I mean.” Therese stood, but didn’t shake Paul’s hand.
“Mind if we walk out together?” She asked with a nervous laugh.
“ ‘Course not. I’ll walk you to your car.”
This week’s prompts: I’m broken; One for the road; That’s not what I do
Marcus sat up. What woke him, he couldn’t tell. But something did. The room was pitch black, but what really alarmed him was the total silence. He’d never known such a complete lack of sound. He reached over to the bedside table for his phone and recoiled when he felt the unmistakable sensation of a body.
Marcus knew the body in the bed was not his wife. He knew he wasn’t in their bedroom. But he couldn’t say why he knew these things. Panic took hold. He could feel his heart pumping and a slight ringing in his ears. He had to get the hell out of there.
He slowly rolled to the other side of the bed, careful not to wake the other person. He swung his legs around and put his feet down on unfamiliar high pile rug. He paused, listening again to the silence, straining to hear something, anything. Whomever it was in the bed next to him didn’t seem to be breathing. Panic rose again. He reached out, found a lamp and turned on the light.
The room was made of cinder block walls, painted a dark brown, with no window. The bed was made up with what looked like floral print covers and sheets from some grandmother’s linen closet. Two beat-up, dated-looking side tables had old-fashioned lamps with blue fringed shades stood on either side. A wood chair in sat in a corner. In the opposite corner was a small sink, towel rack with a single white hand towel, and a toilet. Rolls of toilet paper were stacked neatly below the sink. A small table with collapsible sides and spindly legs sat against the wall next to a large metal warehouse door. On the table sat a porcelain water pitcher, perfectly centered on a white crocheted doily, with bouquet of pink and yellow roses.
Marcus’ eyes now rested on the body next to him. It was a woman, naked, the sheet covering only her lower legs. Her long copper hair draped all across the pillow. She lay on her side, her back turned to him. He had no idea who she was. He did not know where he was nor how he got there. The room gave him the creeps. The whole situation was terrifying. He wanted to lift the sheet up over her, cover her up. Whomever she was. He didn’t want to know.
The worst thing was, Marcus couldn’t remember how he got there. Strangely, only the recent Christmas came to mind. He kept seeing images of his wife laughing with her siblings as they opened one gag gift after another. One of her family’s kooky holiday traditions. The memory made him flinch with a twinge of, what, he couldn’t be sure. Guilt? Remorse? He never had a single fleeting moment’s notice of any woman since he met his wife. Why was he here?
Marcus slowly rose to his feet and looked around for his clothes. He spotted them, a tidy folded stack on a bench at the foot of the bed. Another set of folded clothes, presumably the woman’s, were also on the bench. He took only two steps, trying to not make a sound, and reached the rest of the distance for his clothes. He put them on as quietly and as quickly as he could.
As he looked around for his shoes, wallet and phone, the woman turned over on her back. Her beauty caught him in a frozen moment of surprise and awe. Her high cheekbones had a subtle hint of pink luminescence. Long, natural black lashes curved coyly upward, and heart-shaped lips, with the remnants of lipstick lining the edges, opened slightly to let an easy breath in and out. Her breasts were perfect soft mounds with plump red nipples. Almost too perfect, Marcus thought, as he thought of his wife’s slightly lopsided, heavily drooped bosom.
And then Marcus saw a penis and testicles.
He shook his head as real panic overtook him. He frantically searched for his wallet and phone.
The woman sat up. Marcus stopped where he stood and stared at her.
“Will you be back?” She asked.
Confused, Marcus said, “Uh, no. No. I… No. I won’t… be… back.”
The woman’s expression changed from shy to agonized. “Well, you can get a cab, then,” she snapped. “I’m certainly not taking you anywhere! They’re just outside. They come by all the time.”
“Yes. I will do just that…I need…Where’s my wallet?! My phone…?!”
The woman rose out of the bed and Marcus abruptly turned away. He couldn’t bear looking. The woman reached behind her and pulled the sheet about her, draping and wrapping it into an elegant tunic. She walked gracefully around the bed, floating past Marcus to the table on side where he had been, and opened the drawer. She took out his wallet and phone and held them out.
Marcus reluctantly stepped forward and took them. “Thank you.”
The woman nodded, her face now a neutral, if not a bit angry, expression.
“I do not have a single fucking clue how…who are you?!” Marcus demanded. “I don’t…I’m not g…I don’t do guys! I’m not interested at all in anyone! I love…my wife…my wife! I never...Shit! Why can’t I remember anything?! Where the fuck…?”
The woman smirked. “You don’t remember meeting me?”
“Fuck you,” Marcus shot back.
“OK, I’ll tell you.” She swept a graceful arm toward the old wood chair in the corner, indicating she wished Marcus to sit and listen.
“I’m fine right here. Just … tell me …what the hell…happened. Last night.”
“Last night?” The woman gave a sarcastic snort. “Oh, honey. Try, last several days!”
I jumped into writing this right after reading the prompts last Sunday and then remembered I had to first finish my taxes! Fun to have this to come back to afterward. Not sure where to go with the story, so left it open ended. Prompts this week are: Outside, he raised his arm and hailed a cab/A little white lie/Woken by the silence
He was a lout and she kept snakes. We tell them that, and other nonsense about their parents. It’s the only way to keep them from asking questions, like why they live with us now and not them. Or, why their folks never even come to visit.
My wife, their mother’s sister, makes up all sorts of stories about them. The best is the one about them going to the Mongolia tundra to work with NASA astronauts in their top secret lab. By the time she gets through the adventures they had just trying to get to the astronauts, the kids are so transfixed, they forget to think about when they will see their parents again.
In one way, a weird way, we’re keeping their hopes up. But I sometimes wonder if we’re also doing them some sort of damage, making shit up like that. At some point they’ll grow out of the stories. Probably about the time they figure out Santa Claus is a joke. Now, I never known a kid that went into shock when they learned Santa ain’t real. But, stories about your mom and dad? That’s different. That’s personal. That’s real.
I asked my wife how she will handle it when Hatch, their eldest, starts figuring it out. She promises that’s when she’ll tell him, and our two, who are older than their kids, that the Bonnie and Clyde of the family are in prison. But not for the real reason they are in the joint. She says she’ll weave it into her stories they went down for something stupid, like some mishap on their travels in some barely-on-the-map place. I mean, what kid could handle knowing their mom and dad are in for killing 14 people in cold blood? It’s the truth, but what the hell! So, I’ll let her run with it. Her family, her call.
But, kids these days? I’m just sayin’. Here’s the deal: Someone’s gonna slip up. The in-laws will forget, call them by their real names, or something, and before ya know it…a coupl’a twitches of the thumbs on those phones of theirs and there it will all be, in black and white.
At some point, the truth will have to have out.
Get to the point, that’s what I say! I don’t think I’ve written a prompt in all these years that places all 3 at the top in the first 2 sentences.
Wally was hunched at the bar with another empty beer. The playoffs were on and most the tavern’s clientele was glued to one screen or the other. The occasional roar and cheer would explode, breaking Wally’s train of thought.
Suzanne, Wally’s sister and the tavern’s owner, stood in front of him. She raised a brow and nodded to his glass.
“No. I want a G and T. Double. With the good stuff you keep in the back.”
Suzanne shook her head. “You get Bombay Sapphire, single, and like it.”
Wally shrugged and went back to pretending to watch the game. The new server, a young man called Big Stuff, swooped in with a litany of drink orders and rushed away. Suzanne got to work.
It was always great to watch Suzanne tend bar. She was fast, efficient and dramatic in the way she slung the bottles and shook the shaker. In her younger years, she used to drive all the way to Chicago to enter bartender contests. She won one year for the longest distance pour from a bottle into a glass. Her flair and good looks got her a lot of marriage proposals. “Men figure I don’t mind a drinker,” she would say, “but they’re dead wrong. I don’t bring work home.” She married the local Veterinarian, a quiet, serious Vietnamese man who knew he was the envy of many when she said yes.
“So, what’s it this time, Wally?” Suzanne asked as she slid the Gin and Tonic to him.
“Why don’t you do like all the other places?” Wally said, deflecting her inquiry. “Get one of those touch tablets for orders. Give that new kid of yours a break.”
“One headache at a time.”
“Gotta move with the times, sis. You won’t always have Aunt Glenda around to do your books. Wouldn’t want to get an unnecessary audit, right?”
“What’d you know about it, anyway?” Suzanne scolded. Big Stuff swooped in again, deftly lifting a large tray of drinks to his shoulder and hurrying off.
“Why they call him Big Stuff?”
“Never asked, actually,” Suzanne shrugged. “They just do.”
Amy, who worked the kitchen orders, suddenly appeared next to Wally and placed a plate with a cheese burger and fries in front of him.
“I didn’t order no food!” Wally protested.
“I did,” Suzanne said, “You need to eat, you gonna drink like that tonight. And I mean, all of it. Slow that drunk down, you so bent on getting. And, before you ask,” Suzanne continued, “your next is a big glass of water. I’m warning you, whatever is up your backside tonight, you are not making a mess of it here.”
Wally shot his sister a look, picked up the burger and took a bite. Until that moment, he didn’t realize how hungry he was.
The prompts this week are (one literal, one interpreted, one implied): blue Bombay Sapphire; one scream at a time; justifiably so. https://aooga.wordpress.com/2019/03/31/olwg-96-heist/