Dear Valentine,

I don’t want to start writing again. Not yet. Too many big changes. I need to regain my footing. I’m picky that way. I need things to be just so. I need a story to tell. At the same time, I miss it. I need to make an appointment with the sandman to get something done about these heavy-hooded eyes of mine. But I’m afraid it’s more than even he can handle (sigh).

Prompts are:

  • start writing again
  • change the words
  • persnickety
  • heavy-hooded eyes
  • more than he can handle
  • at the same time
Happy Valentine’s Day! Super Bowl! Olympics!

Aaooga! Aaooga!

With only one exception, it has been since July 1st since I have responded to an OWLG prompt. Obviously, my attention and creative energies have been focused elsewhere. This past week I’ve been snowed/iced in. Nothing better to do but write (well, there are several better things, but they can wait).

The following is a very fast, no over-thinking, “flashy” stab at the 75 prompts I’ve missed (75?!), plus the 3 new ones. I embraced the spirit of OWG to just jump in and go, fingers a-flyin’ over the keyboard. I made no attempt to develop or weave them together into any sort of story or stories. Mostly, it’s vignettes or simple turns of phrase.

The prompts are in bold. Happy New Year!

——————————-

In a more organic way‘ is one of those phrases that annoys me. A version of “keeping it real”, which is also annoying, it doesn’t have the gravitas people think because it always comes off sounding a shallow, corny turn of phrase. What does it actually mean? How does something come about, if not in an organic, or real way, because, what isn’t organic or real? The synthetic, or an alchemy, is not something of another dimension that doesn’t exist in our galaxy. Right? Real is real. Someone can really (pun intended) be a put-on. A thing’s evolution; it’s process comes from a basic starting point, whether its chemical base has been manufactured or has been left to its own devices, it’s “way” cannot be claimed it is any less “real” or “organic” than anything else. Natural vs. unnatural would be better.

===

“Chase and Veronica and the devil makes three,” the old woman scoffed. “Hope you lock ’em up and throw away the key.”
The detective asked, “What do you know about Chase and Veronica?”
“Ya know Bonnie and Clyde? HA! A figment of a Disney fantasy story, compared to those two.”

===

Abigail approached everything in life like a girl with a grudge, cursing and snapping at anyone who dared speak to her. The worst of it was the obligatory visits to her grandparents family gatherings. She despised everyone of her relations, and particularly hated the way they were with each other when everyone was forced together. This time, she had had enough. She grabbed one of her grandmother’s favored antique Spanish porcelain figurines and hurled it down at her feet. It shattered in a million pieces when it hit the ground. Abigail stood definitely over the shards, glaring at everyone, silently daring them all.

===

You lost more than your hair: You lost your faith. In yourself, and others. The world. I know you’ve been dealt a very bad hand, but many others before you have had to play that bad hand as well. Just keep living, and believe one day not only will your hair return, you’ll notice you feel alive again.

===

Take her to church. The moment I read this prompt, the chorus refrain from the popular song, “Take Me to Church” popped in my head. Talk about being bewitched. Obviously, religion gets her all worked up.

===

We’re going to the store. Need anything? Nope. I’m good. But, thanks for asking. (I mean, what else do you do with that prompt?)

===

Earl emerged from the burned-out camp site, clawing his way across the hot, ashen ground. He slid into the river, submerging in the cool water. That was all he could remember. Sitting at the bar days later, slumped all the way over his beer, with dirt of the burnt ground still under his nails and smoke still in his lungs, Earl began to sob.

===

Take away the dark, creepy forests; the ragged black clothing; the wild, untamed hair; the high-pitched cackling and the boiling cauldron. Strip all that away, and you still had a bevy of maniacal spirits. They were everywhere. Walking along the street, shopping in the stores, riding on the busses, working in the offices, drinking in bars and dancing in clubs. City witches, with their glowering stare from behind smokey eyes, long glossy locks, revealing fashion, spiked stilettos, blood-red lips sipping iced cocktails, and a mocking laugh to match their disdain.

===

Aggie’s shot rang out and a thousand blackbirds filled the sky, their deafening caws scattering the hands in all directions ducking for cover.

===

Daryl survived for years selling Persian carpets, bone China, sterling service ware and fine jewelry out of his car to gullible merchants up and down the Connecticut and Hudson Rivers.

===

A bunch of fives,” Nadine quipped.
“What’ya mean, a bunch a’fives?” Bob replied.
“I mean, I have fives. A bunch of ‘em.”
“Well? show ‘em!”
Nadine laid the four fives out. Bob slammed his hand on the table.
“That mean I win?” Nadine asked.
Bob grunted.
“Hey, now. It’s just a game.”

===

Just because I don’t want you to live here, or that I can only take your company in very short visits, doesn’t mean I don’t love you.

===

C’mon down, you’re the next contestant on the Price is Right! (what else goes with that prompt? I ask you!)

===

Adaku was accustomed to not only being one of the lone female scientists on a project, but the only Nigerian doctor any team of doctors, researchers or scientists encountered in their careers.

===

“Scold me! Scream bloody murder! Tell me to leave and never come back! Whatever! Just, for fuck sake, say something!”
“Oh, OK, you want me to be some two-pot screamer? Some crazy bitch going all bat-shit on your ass? You got it. Fuck you! Just, fuck you! I got a jealous heart, alright? Not gonna apologize for that. Can’t…won’t forgive you. No way. So, this is how’s it gonna end. Right now. Just like that. Gimme your house keys.”

===

I love this city and will miss living here. It will make return visits all the sweeter. But, the time has come to move on so I can start writing the next chapter.

===

Robert slowly filed through the gently used love letters, noting the date on the stamp and the return addresses. Obviously, his grandmother read and re-read these many times over. His grandfather lived in dozens of places in those years. Robert couldn’t imagine how tortured his grandfather’s soul must have been when he finally returned home to discover his wife had been given only weeks to live.

===

Whoa! You look amazing! Be still my heart!

===

From the bottom of the Tarot Reader’s deck, Dirk pulled a seven of clubs. Tina smiled. She finally got a man whose fate is a responsibility to honesty and integrity.

===

Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, except that it just might kill you, period. Just sayin’.

===

It happened in 1863 in a hidden canyon just outside of Natchez. They say there were no screams, no wailing, no tears. No more did anyone ever hear from or see the McHenry clan again.

===

Just tell ‘em I’m payin’ for everything. Then, the rest will be easy money.

===

There was nothing like a summer’s late afternoon, thought Rocco, sitting in his rocking chair, sipping whisky in the shade of the giant oak, watching the occasional hawk soar by as the blue sky faded into evening’s gold, pink and twilight’s lavender.

===

He received letters from strangers begging him for help. It took time, but eventually, he cotton to the idea of becoming the kind of hero they were pleading for him to be.

===

Seated across from the man conducting the interview, Marisol hoped he couldn’t see her foot swinging from her crossed legs under the table. He seemed to have an endless number of questions, to which she patiently lied in every one of her replies. She almost never prayed, but, if the good Lord could see his way to getting her this job, Marisol silently promised she would end each day in Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrows lighting a candle to Saint Joseph instead of kicking up her heels and kicking back shots at Jose McMurphy’s.

===

Little Kelly kneeled over the dying calf, gently coaxing it. Grandpa knelt beside her, wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. “She can’t hear you anymore, sweetie.”

===

“Notice the light? The way it falls on the floor through the cracks and broken seams in the wood?” asked Stephanie. “Can’t you see how cool this barn could be as, say, a summer event venue? Weddings? Concerts?”
The old rancher scoffed. “Concerts? You kiddin’?”
“Small concerts. Of course. Ensembles. Chamber music!”
The old rancher seemed to be considering the idea. “Nah,” he finally concluded. “Burn it down – for the nails.”

===

Be a world traveler for $15 or less! See street dogs, old shoes and an imaginary Arizona! Eight-year-old Mickey stood proudly beside the large poster he made from yellow butcher paper and watercolor paint. In his hand he held a basket with a small sign that read, ‘Deposit your $15 here. I like cash please.’

===

Spit out the sun! Play your horn, Leo! Grab life and go, go, go!

===

Baseball cards and overcoats, table lamps and typewriters, the place was stacked from floor to ceiling with everything Albert needed to furnish his new apartment.

===

burgundy skies / look the devil in the eye / all the tears in the world / you’re my favorite kind of crazy

===

The bride’s waiting

===

The place was built by a great uncle, I think, or maybe a cousin, some generations back. At the time, it was located a good distance outside Halifax, but these days it sits comfortably in the suburbs. I nailed the windows shut and double bolted the doors. Tough to have to close the old family homestead up, but as the song goes, the times, they are a changin’.

===

Whatever he believed, his was no god worth worrying about. Clearly consequence, kharma, the golden rule, or any of the rest of it had no place in his world. The ungrateful brute was selling truth out.

===

He was just another Mr. Jones in the joint, with that sickly greenish-blackish color of a Kambaba Jasper stone.

===

The sacred, or the grotesque, the roses and the weeds, the yin and yang, all of it is what makes life worth living. Afterall, you cannot appreciate the warmth of the bright yellow sun without the cold grey of the clouds.

===

Tanya was one of them smoky hot girls you see behind the bar at the Five-n-Dime Tavern downtown, pouring the poor man’s poison by the gallon and dishing out whip-smart comebacks for every attempt the bastards tried at getting on her good side or in her pants.

===

Girl Scout Cookie season was the one bright spot during the pandemic, because nothing about it had to change: Girls and their parents/scout leaders still set up card tables outside grocery stores hawking their goods. Any bit of life-as-expected last year was a God-send.

===

The muliebral approach to spoiling for a fight is to be slow, but steady; constant and easy in the trick before taking the first swing.

===

From his car he could see the dried, cracked and broken land on either side of the road for miles around. For the first time he felt afraid. Truly frightened.

===

don’t explain …  brings another song to mind. Problem is, it’s been an age since I’ve heard it. “don’t explain” is part of a refrain, but I can’t think of any more of the song, nor who wrote/performed it. Ugh!

===

El Paso princess, Ciudad Juarez darling, walking the border between childhood and womanhood, go toward your future with your head held high.

===

Danny watched his mother walk away. He turned to look up at the strange woman holding his hand and then back at his mother, who now was driving off in her car. Years later, as an old man, he could still vividly recall the moment.

===

belly full of gin / with a child too soon to be / dig two graves tonight

===

Writing is not to be avoided! If it’s the thing that you can do all day long and feel nothing but happiness, even in the moments of frustration, then make it your go-to rather than your blow-off.

===

The red Valentine cards with giant hearts cut from white paper doilies sat in their box on the kitchen table. Carol stared at them, fantasizing about how they would look if she ripped half the hearts off of each. 

===

I’m on a one-way street to the next thing in my life. There’s no going back now. I am so excited! I’ve sold the condo and am renting a place close to work. So, what is next? That’s just it! I don’t know, but now I have the ability, the freedom, to go for it.

===

“Apostrophe’s don’t make plural’s?”
Correct! Just asPh also phonetically makes an f. See what I did there? HA! Anyway, it’s simple, really.”

===

The Lamberts opened their Orleans inspired restaurant, La Chèvre Poire et Vin, in June 2019. They were among the very first establishments that had to close only 2 weeks into the shutdown. Years of planning, gone in a moment.

===

Red from the petrol station. This prompt seemed specifically about something for which I had no idea. So, I looked it up on the internet. Every time I type a question into a browser’s search, I always think of my father. He never got used to the immediacy of an internet search. For my parents and generations before, if you wanted an answer to a mystery, you took on discovery as you would a weeks or months-long project. It required many trips to reference libraries, news article archives, and, if you are lucky enough, a willing professional who would divulge insider information.

===

When it’s family

T…H…E… B…R…O…K…E…N… spelled out on the large marquee, one letter at a time, in red neon letters. It flashed three times at the end, then held still. Under that appeared T…H…E… B…E…A…T…E…N… spelled out in neon blue letters, echoing the same pattern. In yellow, this time alighting one word at a time, AND… THE… Damned…. the final word in fancy cursive script, echoing the flash pattern of the first two. Besides the three lines of words in red neon flashed a smiling devil with a hand tilting left, then right, and back again. The frame of incandescent bulbs chased each other around and around until the final word was lit. Then the whole marquee flashed slowly on and off five times before starting the cycle again.

The fantastically bright sign was a jarring sight on a street known for its faded hand painted signboards hanging over long-shuttered business with boarded-up or shattered storefront windows. Except for the patrons of the BB and D, as the locals referred to the all-night club, nobody had reason to be in this part of town.

Jane McCarron sat in her truck across street watching the entrance of the club. Deputized by the Sheriff some forty years before, Jane was the closest thing Blightsburg County had to an official investigator. She had worked as the Sheriff’s Office Clerk since high school and probably knew more about policing than all the young deputies that cycled in and out of the department over the years.

Jane had sat more than her fair share of stakeouts at the BB and D, as well as the other watering holes in the county. The sight of her truck would make regulars laugh, kidding each other that, this time, it was one of their missus’ with suspicions. Jane didn’t care if she was spotted, especially if it kept a wayward husband or boyfriend in check. Truth was, she rarely was called out to catch a cheating partner in the act. The reason was always more nefarious.

The target of her stakeout this night was a woman Jane had known years before as Tina Montgomery. Their families had been neighbors, and while Jane and Tina played together with other neighborhood children, they were never friendly. In high school, Tina was in the Glee Club, played flute in the marching band and graduated with honors. Jane got in trouble more than a few times hanging out with the boiler room crowd at school, eventually dropping out. While Jane stayed in the area working for the Sheriff (the result of a program to get kids like Jane back in school and on a straight and narrow), Tina left to attend state university and then went on to New York City and a brilliant career as a CFO of a national chain of retail stores. That was then. Now, the Sheriff’s office was given solid information by the FBI that Tina planned to meet a leader of a drug cartel at the BB and D.

A couple of days before, Sheriff Becker called Jane into his office. He had his laptop open, facing out toward the door. An online meeting was on the screen. Jane didn’t recognize the faces, except one, but she couldn’t place who it was.

“Everyone,” Sheriff Becker began, “this is Jane.” The faces on the screen waved a polite greeting. “Jane, take a seat. I’m going to flip the computer back so… actually… Jane, bring your chair next to mine so they can see us both.”

“While you two get situated, I’ll get started,” one of the faces said. “Like I said, we need your help. The club is a little too obvious, but maybe Tina’s thinking the locals won’t think anything of her showing up in her hometown.”

Jane realized who belonged to the face she recognized. Tommy Montgomery. The eldest of the four Montgomery kids. The others were Shannon, Erik and Tina, the youngest. Tommy dropped out of high school to work the canaries in Alaska, at a time when that sort of work, if you could survive it, paid really well. He would come back to town in the spring, flash his money around bar hopping up and down the coast highway every night, usually in the company of a bike gang, and then break some young girl’s heart when he returned to Alaska in the fall. Blightsburg County was dotted with his DNA. Last Jane heard of Tommy, he moved to Maine to run his own lobster boat. He looked old and very weathered, but handsome as ever.

“Well, Jane’s great. The best,” Sheriff Becker said. “Jane, these folks here from the FBI, and I bet you recognize Tom.”

Jane nodded. “Hey Tommy. Long time.”

Tommy nodded and smiled. “Hey kiddo. Time’s been good to you, looks like.”

“Turns out Tom has information that his sister Tina might be running a racket of some sort. You remember Tina as well, I assume.”

“Yeah,” Jane said with a slight shake of her head. Tina Montgomery’s running something that’s got the Feds attention? Tommy saw her disbelief.

“Right?” Tommy said, “Hard to believe. Teeny-Tiny Baby Tina, a fuckin’ crook.”

“Shut it, Montgomery,” cautioned one of the Feds on the screen. “Jane, Tom’s assisting us with apprehending his sister.”

As the Fed outlined their investigation, Jane picked up a file in front of the Sheriff and began scanning the contents. Tina’s current married name was Evanston. Two grown sons by her first marriage to a Blake Kolenski, and a daughter with second husband Daniel Evanston. Her second husband, much older, was a criminal attorney, now retired. They live in upstate New York. Tina has been under investigation for racketeering for the past 10 years.

“What’s Tommy got involved with it?” Jane asked, interrupting the discussion.

“Made myself a deal with the Feds,” Tommy said.

“Mr. Montgomery, let us do the talking,” a Fed said. Tommy lifted his hands in resignation.

“Tommy’s made a deal for information,” Sheriff Becker explained.

Jane scoffed. “Suppose you got yourself mixed up with whatever Tina’s got going?”

Tommy gestured across his mouth with a zipped-closed motion.

“Well, thanks for bringing this sort of shit home, Tommy.” Jane tossed the file back on the desk. “Folks around here are born with one foot in the grave to begin with. They don’t need shit like this to make things worse.”

“Why do you think I’m in on the deal in the first place?” Tommy replied, annoyed. One of the Feds started to admonish Tommy, but Tommy cut him off. “No, I’m talking here! I know these people like family.”

Tommy continued, “Jane, Mike, I’m tellin’ ya, I’m doing this for the right reasons. Yeah, I did some stuff with Tina, when I moved back east. Needed to get things going out here and, her being a big-time CFO, ‘course I’m gonna reach out. She’s my kid sister! But…” Tommy trailed off in thought before he began again. “It’s bad. She’s bad. She’s changed. Our folks pretend not to notice, but they’ve been brought down pretty damn far by all of this.

“All I’m gonna say is I will do whatever these fellas need to make her stop. Even if it means her getting locked up. I know you haven’t thought much of me over the years, but, you help these guys out? I’ll keep you in Main lobster the rest of your life. And, maybe my folks can go to their graves knowing the right thing was done.”


https://aooga.wordpress.com/2021/12/12/olwg-238-the-influence-of-football-on-junkyard-theology/ prompts are:

  1. a place of bones
  2. the broken, the beaten, and the damned
  3. stronger than gratitude

My first “in person” prompt event

It wasn’t actually “in person”. It was on Zoom, but it was with live action, actual human beings. A first for me.

I truly enjoyed hearing the writers reading what they wrote. One person wrote a long lovely poem about yearning. Another wrote a very short humorous essay about sneaking Mimosas into a museum. There was a wistful piece about wide open spaces of the countryside and another essay, this one about digging a tunnel. The last piece was a humorous memoir of a honeymoon spent camping.

I’ll share the prompt with all of you (the first prompt posted here in several months!) I won’t get to hear you read your short piece, but I will, as always, enjoy reading it.

Instructions: Use at least 2 of the word and/or image prompts below in a story, poem or essay. Use both word and image prompts, if you wish. Mix and match! You have 20 minutes to write. On your mark, get set, GO!

WORD PROMPTS: orange delight; Mona Lisa; tunnel; wide open universe

IMAGE PROMPTS:

Ice Cream Truck

Not a prompt response. Just a happy post about the Ice Cream Truck coming ’round my neighborhood this summer.


Last night, for the first time in all the years I’ve lived in my neighborhood, an Ice Cream Truck drove through our condo and apartment lined streets. Every summer I hear the telltale chirpy tune coming from the surrounding single-family neighborhoods, so it was a pleasant surprise to hear it in our corner of the city. In fact, it brought more people out onto their decks and balconies than the Seahawks winning the Superbowl or the fantastic lightning storm a few years ago.

The sound of the Ice Cream Truck may make some cringe, but it always makes me smile, remembering a couple of chilhood summer vacations.

When I was around 7/8/9 years old, my parents and friends of theirs went in on a 2-week southern CA beach rental (when I recall the time, I’ve thought it a weird thing to do since we lived just a few miles up the coast and relatively close to the beaches. Wish my folks were still around to ask why, but I digress).

Our time was primarily spent on the beach, but once a week, an Ice Cream Truck would come around, and no matter what our parents said we ought to be doing, we would vehemently protest. We had to wait for the Ice Cream Truck. Inside. Quietly, expectantly. And then, from a great distance (OK, probably only 3 or so blocks away), we would hear the music box broadcast of “A Bicycle Built for Two”.

We ran out to the street and jumped and shouted as if we were frantically waving down a fire truck to put out a fire. The driver was brilliant. Each time, he’d make us freak out that maybe he didn’t see us. “Oh! Sorry,” he’d joke, “I almost didn’t see you guys!”

My favorite ice cream choice, to this day, is the Drumstick, simply because it reminds me of that Ice Cream Truck. And, years later, a college roommate drove an Ice Cream Truck during the summer, always keeping at least one Drumstick on hand in case I came around on her route.

Just sayin’, if you don’t know what is an Ice Cream Drumstick, then you don’t know what you’ve been missing. 🙂

July, 1963

1984

Jared showed feigned interest as his girlfriend Dianna’s father gave a thorough recitation about each of the smiling people in the various framed photos on the bookshelf. Dianna gave him an apologetic smile.

“…and this is all of us at my cousin Mason’s graduation from High School. He was the first of us through. That’s Mason with his arms around me and my sister Sophia, and that’s mama, daddy, grandpa Ralph, Aunt Louise and Uncle…”

“Dad, can we do this another time?” Dianna interrupted.

Jared raised his hand in a clumsy attempt at civility. “Is Sophia the one that disappeared?” he asked.

“Yes,” Dianna quickly replied, saving her father from having to answer the question. “Sorry, daddy. I told Jared about Auntie Sophia.”

The smile on Dianna father’s face changed to a melancholy grimace. He shook his head. “Well, then, did she tell you it was one of those times, every fifty years or so when the moon goes all red? But that happened in the morning, as the moon was setting, before she’d gone to work. Anyway, yes. Let’s save that story for another time.”

“All I want is to stop sifting through again and again the very little we have ever known about her disappearance,” said Dianna’s mother. “If she left, she left. Terrible of her to just take off like that, if that’s what actually happened. But it would be good to know one way or the other, because if she’s dead, I mean, if she was murdered or something awful like that, then all we want is to lay her to rest.”

Jared leaned over to Dianna and mouthed, “Sorry”.

“I’m going to show Jared the famous tire swing out back,” Dianna announced.

“No, no. Time to eat. Everyone come sit down and we’ll get dinner on the table,” Dianna’s grandmother said as she stood in the kitchen doorway motioning everyone through. “Let’s not scare off Dianna’s young man just yet with stories about my poor Sophia.”

***********

Twenty years earlier

“Great stuff tonight, Sophia,” Philip called out as he passed the women’s open dressing room door.

“Thanks!” Sophia called back. She heard the backstage door open and Philip bidding a good night to Charlie the doorman.

It was a darn good night, Sophia thought. She wanted to thank Gus and Thaddeus, too, but she was pretty sure the guys were already out the door with whomever they’d set their sights on in the club.

Guessing who the fellas would end up with at the end of the night was a game Sophia liked to play. This night she guessed Gus was off with one of the four boys sitting in the back and Thaddeus with the woman in the tight-fitting blue dress at the table up front. Thaddeus always went for the ripe, low hanging fruit. Philip wasn’t part of the game. He was crazy in-love with his fiancé and out the door right after the last set.

“Nice night for it,” was Charlie the doorman’s standard salutation for anyone leaving the club. “Need a cab, Miss?”

“Yes. Thank you, Charlie,” Sophia said, keenly aware of Charlie’s gentlemanly ritual of seeing the women of the club safely off. When the quartet played their first gig at the club, Sophia insisted she would bus it home, but Charlie insisted he pay for a cab. From that point forward, Sophia agreed to let Charlie to call a cab, but refused to let him pay. Living clear across town, she paid with what usually amounted to most of her miniscule take of the evening’s door.

Sophia lived in a one-bedroom apartment she inherited, so to speak, when her grandfather died. She was the one who nursed him through his final days and decided to take over payment of the rent after his death. The apartment was in the sprawling projects along the river, near industrial district where most project tenants worked. As did she, though she considered her circumstance different.

Her day-job was as a senior secretary for the operations manager at Tigart Manufacturing. She started in the Tigart secretarial pool during summers in High School and a few years later, was assigned to the new operations manager, Richard Stanton. Stanton was shy, nervous, and very well-mannered. Her position was the envy of the other secretaries because almost every secretary was subjected to every form of disregard, from being entirely ignored to blatant insult and harassment.

But what filled Sophia’s world was music. It was her total joy. She needed nothing more. It took her far away from grind of her daily life and made the world a wonderful place to be.

Sophia took every chance she could to play or listen to music. She would surreptitiously eat her lunch at her desk so that she could spend her lunch hour at the upright piano in the employee commons. On Wednesdays after work, she headed straight home to eat a quick bite before walking the 5 blocks to the First Fellowship of Christ, the church her family attended when she was young, to practice playing on their Baby Grand Steinway, as well as practice her singing. She had the place to herself, which gave her space and time to work out a tricky bit of something new or rehearse songs for the quartet’s weekend gigs. When she was done, the night janitor, a middle-aged man she’d known all her life only as Mr. Johnson, would walk her home.

Tuesday and Thursday evenings were rehearsal for the Friday and Saturday night gigs with the quartet. Gus was the group’s leader. He did a great good job at maintaining their standing gigs at three small neighborhood clubs, and occasionally landing a private party, musical event or festival. Gus ponied up for a cab to collect Sophia, Philip, and Thaddeus, so they could rehearse in Gus’ make-shift sound studio that he also called home. They rehearsed long into the night polishing up their repertoire and hammering out new material. Gus was adamant Sophia jam with the guys with some scat singing, but if there was one thing she could not quite get the hang of, it was scat. Nevertheless, every week, he encouraged her to try. But when it came to the gigs, she would bow out during the instrumentals and just let the boys rip.

The third weekend of the month, unless Gus had scored a gig, was her time to catch up. Saturdays were spent doing chores and errands, and if time allowed, a little bit of window shopping. Every Sunday was a trip on the bus for dinner with her brother, his wife, their three children and her mother.

Mondays were the only evenings to do whatever she wanted. She joked that it was a good thing she only had Mondays open, otherwise she would end up broke on cover charges at clubs to hear groups play and on tickets to concerts. So, Mondays were typically a quiet night at home for Sophia, especially in winter when it was too cold for much of anything else than the occasional trip to the ice rink with her friend Barbara from work. Every so often she attended the Monday night single adults’ mixer at the church, at the urging of her brother who was desperate to see Sophia settled and out from under his charge. Other times she walked to the library to check out a couple albums of favorite musicians or discover new ones. In summer she like to take the long way home from work along the busy promenade along the river. She would treat herself to dinner with a hot dog and a Coca-Cola from the vendor on the docks. She enjoyed sitting on a bench watching the boats and people go by.

On the second Monday in July of 1963, two days after the fantastic night at the club with the guys, and three weeks after her 23rd birthday, the only thing anyone knew that Sophia planned for her evening was one of her quiet nights at home. The remnants of a tropical storm had turned the weather wet and windy. She told her friend Barbara that she was looking forward to staying home listening to the records she recently checked out from the library. The last time anyone saw Sophia was her saying good night to her boss Richard Stanton.\

—————————————

Prompts used in1984″ are: Bloodshot moon; I should go; chip away

OK, but, no one said it was Wet T-Shirt Night

Amanda stood facing her boyfriend Eric in her gym outfit of sports bra, heavy cotton crew neck short sleeved t-shirt and ankle length black leggings, dripping from head to toe in water.

“If you ever wanted to see me in a wet t-shirt contest? Well, here I am.”

Eric stifled a laugh. “Uh. Yeah.”

Other than the clear definition of the heavy seams of her sport bra and her underwear’s waist and leg bands, and perhaps a some soft who-would-actually-notice nipple definition, Amanda’s wet attire did not reveal anything beyond a jogger caught in a downpour. Only, it wasn’t raining.

“Seriously?!” Amanda argued. “I’m all wet and so, I thought you’d be, like, turned on. I mean,” she continued, looking down at herself, “it’s all sticking to me.”

“No, yeah,” Eric said, still stifling a laugh, “I mean… you are…seriously, man. Crazy! Seriously, how’d you, like, get all wet anyway?”

“Gina,” Amanda said. “From the West Building? She was in the pool, swimming, and no one else was down there. I stopped by the Cabana to see if anyone was using the sauna and, yeah, well, she dared me to jump in. As is.”

Amanda and Eric stared at each other.

“OK, so,” Amanda continued, “I’ll just…” she gestured toward the bathroom.

Eric gave her the thumbs up and settled back on the couch watching the big game, as before.

Hard Times Require Beer (and a Favorite Uncle. Oh, and a Porterhouse)

Elliott’s favorite place is on his aunt and uncle’s back porch leaning against the house in an old kitchen chair with his feet up on the railing. Summertime finds him with an iced tea or a beer. Winter is a hot mug of coffee, or at Christmas, with his aunt’s holiday hot toddy. Elliott could sit like this all day watching the world drift downstream along the fork of the river at the edge of the property.

But on this summer’s day Elliott was leaned forward, elbows on his knees. He slowly peeled the label off of a bottle of beer, wadding up the remnants between his fingers and then poking them down the bottle’s neck. He thoughtfully placed the bottle with the other empties, then reached for another in the cooler under the chair. He took a long draw off of it before going to work removing its label.

“Hard times are easy to find, aren’t they?” Elliott’s uncle’s voice came from just behind the screened door.   

Elliott reached into the cooler and offered his uncle one. The man took the beer and sat on the stairs on the edge of the porch, looking back at his nephew.

“You need to get a new No Trespassing sign,” Elliott said, pointing out toward the river.

His uncle glanced out across the property and shrugged. “Folks can pretty much guess what it says.”

“It’s not like a new sign’s ‘gonna set you back.”

“Don’t see the need, son. But thanks for your concern.”

Elliott finished his beer, jammed to the bits of label down the bottle, set it down with the empties, pulled out another one and got to working on that label.

“Look, kid, it’s a bum deal, but a case of beer isn’t going to make you anything but a drunk, sad-sack S-O-B, more than you already are.”

“Yeah? Well, could be worse,” Elliott grumbled. “Could be out with my guys making a night of it. Been a while since we were out looking to score.”

“OK. I’ll give you that,” his uncle conceded.

Elliott stopped fiddling with the bottle and looked up at his uncle. “Look, I’m a grown man, I know life’s not about scoring, and it’s not always going to turn out to be like some huge winning lottery ticket. I just wish,” he shook his head. “Whatever. Forget it.”

“No, I get it,” his uncle replied. “And don’t go mistaking my big mouth for God’s only truth. I just been around the block a few times more, is all.”

“I appreciate you bein’ here for me.” Elliott smiled as he took a moment to focus his thoughts. “I mean, if we’re talkin’ truths here, me and her? We were chalk and cheese. Take this place,” Elliott leaned his chair back into his customary position, “I love it here!” He sighed as he opened his arms wide. “How can you not love every bit of this?”

“I agree, I agree, of course” his uncle said. “But, you only brought her around that one time. She didn’t take to the place?”

“Who knows. I mean, she said it was pretty out here, but, yeah, I guess not. Anytime I suggested we come out here? She’d make a face and then say we should go shopping at the mall, or see a movie, or go out to dinner, or hang out at the casino, or whatever.”

Two gun shots echoed through the valley, setting a flock of startled crows aloft.

“Mick and Geraldine’s got their grandkids for the summer. Teaching them how to shoot,” Elliott’s uncle explained. Elliott nodded.

“So, how ‘bout I take you and Aunt Mary out for a bite?” Elliott said as he gave his uncle a slap on the back. “Your choice!”

Elliott’s uncle smiled. “Oh, well then, I could do with a porterhouse from River Bend Grill. With one of their whiskey sours Mary likes? You’re on!”

———-

I like to accumulate prompts and then have a go (as the Brits say). Mostly, I like to force myself to just “get with the program” and write, something, anything!
The Un-OLWG prompts used are: big door prize; a simple kitchen chair; hard times are easy to find; gut shot; chalk and cheese; while the world drifts downstream; no trespassing; mistake my big talk for truth; who am I kidding; shamelessly speak the truth