Adrift

Is that my pencil case, full of the broken bits of glass I found on the beach? I have been looking for it! I miss fingering through it, holding each piece up to the light, admiring the dark ambers, deep greens, jeweled blues, and frosted whites. See here? Look! So beautiful. I’m so relieved you found it.

Where, you say? At the bottom of an off ramp? What were you doing there? Wh…why were you looking for me there? What made you think I would be on the street, of all places. No! You look around! I am at home! Where else would I be? Just look. Just look around, and tell me this is not my home. It is a sunny spring day and you can see as far out to the ocean’s horizon, just as always on such a day. Yes, the horizon! Are you telling me you cannot hear the waves on the shore down below the cliffs, or the gulls calling from high above? And just smell the scent of salt in the breeze! How strange you are. What is the matter with you? Of course I am at home.

Prompts this week are: At the bottom of the off ramp; is that my pencil case?; broken.

https://aooga.wordpress.com/2018/11/18/olwg-77-urban-fisherman/

Blue Mesa Dreamin’

Edmund’s mother Carol Anne found him in his favorite spot on the cliff staring out at the green valley below and the blue mesa beyond. Carol Anne flopped down next to him, exhausted.

“Found Dexter grazing ’bout half mile from here,” she said with slight admonishment. “Tied him and Honeysuckle up to the tree back yonder. Honeysuckle’ll keep him calm.”

“Thanks.”

“Ya know, one of these days, that horse of yours is going to just keep on walking.”

“Sorry.”

“I’ve asked you time and again, tie the animal up.”

Edmund did not respond. Carol Anne let out an exasperated sigh. ” ‘spose when that day comes Dexter goes and trots on down the road, you’ll just walk on foot out here anyway.”

” ‘spose so.”

“Well, that’s just fine, ’cause I ain’t got the money to get you another.”

Carol Anne took a good long look at her son. As he approached manhood, he looked more and more like his father. She wondered what her late husband would think of their boy. Moody and wistful, and nearly as silent as the grave, Edmund was a mystery to her.

Carol Anne stood up and brushed the dust from her trousers. “I left Melody all by her lonesome, so we best get a move on.”

“Reckon I’ll be along, by and by,” he said.

“Son, that’s enough daydreamin’ for one day. It’s enough I gotta be both mama and daddy to my bairn, than to have you running off every day to do whatever you see fit.”

Edmund frowned and mumbled to himself.

“What’s that?” Carol Anne snapped.

“Nothin’, mama.”

“I swear, boy, you test my very limits!  I mean, all the time you spend up here when there ain’t never enough hours in the day to get done what’s got to be done?” Carol Anne lifted Edmund’s chin off his chest, turning his head to look at her. “What you thinking ’bout all this time you up here, anyway, huh?”

Edmund wrenched his chin from her grasp and started walking down the hill. Carol Anne chased after him, “I am askin’ you a question, mister-man. You answer when your mama asks you a question.”

“I just think!”

“I’m trying to understand you, Edmund, I really am, but I cain’t know, if you don’t come out with it.”

They walked to their horses in silence, Edmund stubbornly refusing to speak. As they mounted, Carol Anne could see her son was making ready to bolt and quickly maneuvered to block him.

“Look, I don’t mind you wantin’ to come up here from time to time. It’s a lovely spot. I can see why you like it up here. But,” Carol Anne cautioned, “you have to pull your own weight. Every single day. You’ll be grown in just a couple of years and you cain’t have folks thinkin’ you cain’t, or worse, won’t pull your own weight.”

“Alright.”

“We understood, then?”

“I said ‘alright,’ din’t I?”

As mother and son rode together, Carol Anne chatted about any number of things that popped in her head, mostly about the ranch. Edmund usually let her prattle on uninterrupted, but this time something suddenly seized him from inside. He blurted angrily, “Mama, I don’t want to be a rancher!”

Carol Anne reigned her horse, forcing Edmund to do the same. “Where’s this coming from?” She asked.

“I’ve been thinking ’bout it a while now. I don’t want to be a rancher. I want…I…that is, you know how good I am at building things? How I like to fix things?”

“Sure am.”

“I want to build things.”

“What things?”

“Dunno. Buildings? Maybe trains. I dunno. Just, whatever. Build things!”

Carol Anne smiled the broadest smile Edmund had ever seen on her face. Her eyes twinkled. “Well, now. I think that is a mighty fine thing, you wantin’ to build things.”

“You ain’t mad?”

“No, sir! Not in the least. Not in the least.” She rode closer to her son and gave him a kiss on the forehead. “Now, let’s get on home and finish up what needs be done, and tomorrow, I promise, we’ll carve out some time to sit and discuss this some more.”


This week’s UnOLWG prompts are: Tell me about it; blue mesa; You would if you loved me. Two of the three are more implied. I think. At least, I tried to make it work that way.

Dan

What a f-n cliché. Frickin’ corny, Dan thought. A windy fall day blowing giant orange, yellow and red fall leaves through the air. It was a scene right out of a cheesy chick-flick. All that was missing was a sweeping piano sound score. The thumping bass from the mobbed-up Honda parked at the far end of the parking lot did not match the postcard-perfect image. Dan shook his head. Something was always fucking up the picture.

Dan took a deep breath and stood up. Can’t sit here all day. He started walking south, not at all sure where he was going. Reaching for his wallet, he surreptitiously figured the bills in its fold. A hundred or more. The thought suddenly struck him: It was enough for a Greyhound home. And just like that, he turned west toward downtown.

The woman next to him on the bus was chatty, never drawing breath as far as he could tell. If anyone asked, he’d not have been able to tell what the fuck she was yakking about. He took off his coat, balling it up into a pillow, and lay back into his chair. He was asleep before she figured it out.

The walk home from the bus station was longer than he remembered. Passing familiar sights, Dan realized it had been a good while since he walked through the old neighborhood. He smiled when he saw Mrs. Stokowski mowing the lawn in front of her place. Dan gave a short wave as he passed, but Mrs. Stokowski only offered a tentative polite smile in return. Had it been that long? Dan thought. I wasn’t all that young when I left, was I? Am I that unrecognizable?

“You know, of course, Kitty never came back.”

Dan turned around. Mrs. Stokowski leaned over her mower and turned it off. “You know that, right?”

“I do,” Dan said.

“OK. Just sayin’.”

“OK.”

Dan gave Mrs. Stokowski another short wave and resumed walking. Why the fuck would she think he gave two shits about Kitty?

Anyway, just one more block, he thought, and it would finally, once and for all, be said and done.


The prompts this week are: A hundred dollars in her purse; loquacious; Kitty came home

https://aooga.wordpress.com/2018/11/04/olwg-75/

Tonight’s Characters

#1: He’s 80, reading the newspaper while making his way slowly through a slice of key lime pie and an Irish Coffee. The waitress swoops by with ” ‘nother one for ya?” and grabs the almost empty coffee. He snatches it back. “Yes, but let me…” He swallows the final gulp, then thrusts the mug into her stomach. When she comes back with his 2nd drink, he places a gentle hand on her arm and apologizes. She shrugs it off.
The bill arrives. He pays with a card, but makes a point of leaving her a 20-dollar bill. He places the bill carefully, intentionally, neatly in the middle of the table, fussing with how level and even it appears. When he leaves, he stops her and points to the table. “For you.”

#2: Forty-something bartender. Tall and lean. Thick glasses and soft spoken. Always friendly, of course, but shy and serious. One time I ordered a chocolate martini from him  and he beamed. Probably one of the worst concoctions I’ve ever had, but I smiled when he asked if I liked it. “That was fun!” he said.  “Nobody orders drinks like that, ever! Want another?” I shake my head. “I’m good.”

#3: “I’m 61 and retiring in 4 years!” It was something she was always quick to say. Short and very, very round. When I say short, I mean not technically a dwarf, but unquestionably short. So is her hair. She proudly sports a Dennis the Menace tuft. “I tell the barber, it’s not short enough if it isn’t standing up!”
Happy and energetic, but something about  her puts you on guard.
“I hate beans,” she says giving a mock shudder and vomit. “Hate! Any of ’em. All of ’em!” with another mock shudder and vomit. You get the feeling you’re supposed to ask why, but something tells to you keep quiet and not engage. She continues to shake her head and pantomime she’s been made to sniff a turd.
Over time, you come to realize there is something not quite right about her, so you distance yourself. Eventually, you mention this to your manager, who surprises you when she says, “Good idea.”
It’s been a couple of weeks since she was fired. People were surprised she lasted as long as she did (10 months). Turns out she fucked up a lot, in many different ways. But always with a smile.
Anway, she was at our workplace tonight, happy as you please, as if showing up at the workplace that summarily dismissed her with cause (and a long list of causes, at that) ain’t no big thing. “Bet you’re surprised to see me!” she says. I laugh, awkwardly, and walk away.
I get it. It’s a big Fuck You. But she didn’t come in the building with guns ablazing. So, you keep just being you, Terri. You just keep being you.


Thinking of April’s wonderful character studies!

Variations on the blah-blah-blahs

  1. I don’t think I ever said that
  2. I really need you to
  3. watch this shit
  4. I don’t really need you to watch this shit
  5. I really said that?
  6. This shit is really…that is, I don’t think I ever watched it
  7. You really need that watch
  8. I need that watch. Really. Not this shit.
  9. Think. When have I ever said that.
  10. This and that. You and I.

The prompt is the first three. I am not in a writing mood, so I thought I’d just goof around with variations using just the words in the prompts. Maybe something would spark an idea for a story. But, even a second cup of coffee is not working. I gots the “blahs.”


https://aooga.wordpress.com/2018/10/28/olwg-74-jacy/

Funereal Arrangements

Hannah asked, almost rhetorically, “Why, at funerals, do people have to be so…I don’t know,” she shook her head. “So awful? Isn’t it sad enough?”

Hannah and her husband Charlie were driving home from Mrs. Fitzgerald’s funeral. Charlie kept his eyes on the road, not knowing what to say.

“You talking about that woman? At the coffin?”

“Yes! God, how … I mean, holy crap. That was so…”

“You had enough at the reception?” Charlie asked, changing the subject. “I mean, it was a pretty nice spread, but, not exactly dinner. Wanna go out? Maybe catch a movie?”

“Sure. Whatever.”

“But, I’m glad we went, right? Support Kenneth and Emily.”

“I guess.”

Charlie reached over and patted his wife’s knee. “Hey. It’s a good thing. I mean, you’d want friends and family to show up for your funeral, right? Be a support for me, Pauly and Karin, yeah?”

Hannah didn’t respond. They drove for a while without talking. The news station on the radio ran a story about the death of fifteen Marines during an ambush in Afghanistan. Hannah leaned over and pressed the off button.

“Charlie, we’ve never talked about funerals. Ours, I mean.”

“Sure we have.”

“No, not really. Not specifically.”

Charlie paused a moment. “Umm…hey. So, dinner? You want to go to that Cajun barbeque place or is Village Burger OK?”

Hannah stared at Charlie with that stare of hers Charlie hated. “Hon, I say, ‘Hey, we haven’t talked about how we want to be remembered at our funerals,’ and you say, ‘Barbeque or burgers?’ ”

“I’m just asking. I mean, you love those Courgettes Frites at the Cajun place. So, if we’re going to do barbeque, I’ll take 36th, otherwise I’ll just keep going to Village Burger.”

Hannah sighed “We haven’t had barbeque in a while, I guess.”

Charlie and Hannah chose a booth toward the back of the restaurant. They didn’t speak while they ate. Charlie watched the game on the big screen across the room and Hannah picked at her food.

“Another?” Charlie asked pointing to Hannah’s empty pint glass. She shrugged. Charlie ordered a second round. When the beer arrived, Hannah spoke up.

“So, about our funerals…”

Charlie knew he’d deflected the topic for as long as he could. “OK. What.”

“I mean, that woman, right? Sitting by the casket? Who brings a bottle of booze to a funeral and sits there talking to the deceased like that? So rude. I’m surprised Emily didn’t freak. I mean, I would have!”

“OK. I promise I won’t let anyone booze it up over your casket.”

“Charlie, I’m serious! Remember Aunt Maribeth? When she died?  I thought it was weird there wasn’t a funeral, memorial service, or a wake. Nothing. Remember?”

Charlie shrugged.

“Well, after today, I understand why she didn’t want anything. Charlie, I’m telling you now, I don’t want a fuss. I know people need to grieve, but people putting on a show of it? I mean, I can just see it. My sister will get all dolled-up in some god-awful outfit with one of those big garden party hats of hers….playing the part of the hostess of the biggest party in town. So gross! And, Pauly? He’ll probably invite his percussion group! I mean, seriously. A bunch of xylophones and steel pans playing To Thee Oh Lord? Amazing Grace? Wind Beneath My Wings, or whatever that song is called?”

Charlie was laughing. “And Karin with her cycle club?,” he offered between the giggles. “All hot and dripping sweat after one of their long weekend rallys?”

Hannah began to laugh. “…walking through the church with their bike cleats still on, click-clacking past my coffin in those gross bike shorts that show every lump, bump and crease…”

Both were laughing hard enough to draw the attention of the tables around them. They didn’t care.

“Yeah, OK!” Charlie finally said. “No xylophones or bicycle clubs. Got it!”

“And no titty twirlers for you, bub!”

“Awww…c’mon! Those chicks’ got talent!”


The Un-OLWG prompts this week are: bicycle; xylophone; courgette.
Thom’s preamble story before the prompts is the inspiration for my story. It reminded me of my parents’ reason why they asked that there not be any ceremony recognizing their passing. They sternly believed that funerals, memorials and wakes were tasteless and undignified. So, we cremated their bodies per their only stated wishes, and then it was left to me to decide what to do with the ashes. I made the only choice I could, and I have to believe my folks are 
A-OK that I scattered their ashes in the most unceremonious ceremonious  way I could imagine (by the way, Mom and Pops…happy Valentines Day!)

 

 

D.I. Fischer and The Girls

Richie gave unsmiling Detective Inspector Fischer a wink. “Not me, gov. I’m just one of the girls!”

“Alright, sweet cheeks,” Detective Inspector Fischer said, “let’s move along, move along.”

The other members of the drag club laughed and clapped as Richie approached their group. Richie gave a cat walk twirl and pose, then took a bow.

Fischer shook his head. He hated calls like these. All anyone will say in their statements is that they were just out for a night of fun, nobody was behaving any differently than any other night, nobody got into a fight, nobody saw anything, etc. etc. etc. But here was a dead guy bleeding all over the floor, his gut sliced open from sternum to groin. A very personal killing. But no one knows anything.

“OK, guys…guys…OY!” Fischer yelled. The group stopped joshing and paid attention. “So, who’s the guy on the floor.”

“Stella B. Della,” a voice said from somewhere in the group.

“His real name,” Fischer barked.

“Don’t know, pet,” another said. “Only seen ‘im a few times before.”

“Do better, guys,” Fischer admonished. The group murmured and whispered to each other but said nothing to Fischer. “C’mon! Someone probably needs to know he’s dead, right? Mum, Dad, boyfriend, someone! Who is he?!”

“I met him. I mean I talked to him. The other night.”

“Who said that?” Fischer asked

“Me.” Richie stepped out from the group. Fischer’s angry gaze unnerved him. He bobbed an awkward curtsy.

“Did he tell you his real name? His regular name?”

“Francis.” Richie replied. “But I didn’t get a last name.”

“Well, it’s a start. Thanks. And, what’s your name?”

“Richie Rich, the Personification of Perfection!” Richie started to twirl but thought better of it.

“Don’t fuck with me, kid,” Fischer snarled. “Lemme see your I.D.”

Richie reached down the front of his lamé tube top and with a mock flourish, produced a small pink, glittered pouch. He unzipped it and took out his I.D. and handed it to Fischer.

“Richard Akhil Richardson.”

“Richie Rich, The Perfect” Richie said. “I am, actually, Richie Rich, The Perfect, copper-man.”

“Akhil?” Fischer asked.

“It’s Hindi for perfect, or complete. A ruler or a king,” Richie replied. His friends oo’d, ahh’d and applauded. Richie turned and took a deep Prima Donna curtain call curtsy, then turned back to Fischer.

“My mother is Hindi. Indian,” Richie explained. “She knew I would be her only child, so, to her, I am perfect. Nevertheless, my father, being every bit the wanker that he is, wanted me to have an English Christian name. They couldn’t agree what that name ought to be, so they settled on Richard.”

Fischer shook his head again. God, how he hated calls like these.


 This week’s prompts are: If it’s too perfect; move along; one of the girls

https://aooga.wordpress.com/2018/10/14/olwg-72-a-haibun-of-sorts/