The House of Magic Products

I did it! I got all 15 of the recent Un-OLWG prompts in one post…and, I wrote it on the fly! Me so proud. The prompts are in bold. Easier to spot that way when there are so many. A few are tweaked to better fit the story. And, the story? It is inspired by a true event! Not something I typically do.

“This is the oldest district of Chinatown,” Brent announced to the group of twenty or so people who signed up for the walking tour of downtown. He smiled a grin so wide, it exposed almost all of his teeth. The people gathered looked at him in anticipation, as if he was about to deliver a punch line.

Brent was an unlikely Chinatown tour guide. A thirty-two year-old Irishman (regardless his grandmother’s protestation that the family was English) and community college basketball coach (a job that supported his fanciful dream of one day being a celebrated poet) who would be taken for an authority on nothing other than what was important to the average millennial. He walked the group a few blocks, making casual conversation along the way, before beginning his presentation. He stopped on the corner of Jackson and 4th.

“Now, most who write about Chinatown dismiss these four blocks north of Juniper Park as your classic red-light district, with girls loitering on street corners lit by neon restaurant signs, opium dens, and drug lords infamous for shooting their victims between the eyes, stripping them naked and burying them in vats of grease. That sold a lot of Hollywood movies and mystery novels over the years, but it’s a little too retro and cliche characterization, in my opinion. Not surprisingly, too, it’s inaccurate.

“What you actually have here are no less than ten different association houses, just in this area. An association house is an integral part of most Chinatowns around the world. It was a place of refuge, business, and, in a way, governance. When you lived in a world that shuts you out, or exploits you, the association house was your lifeline, and definitely a fairer arbiter than City Hall.”

A hand came up from the group. “But, there was crime, wasn’t there? It isn’t all B.S.” The question was inevitable on almost every tour Brent led.

“Yes, yes. Of course. No society or culture is without their share of crime. They did traffic in illegal goods and services, and fights would erupt, typically out in the street between two rival gin joints, but mostly, they did everything else right by their community. They provided housing, employment, temples for worship, schools, legal representation, traditional medicine as well as western health clinics and hospitals, excetera, excetera.

“Any questions? No? OK, let’s walk to the next spot.”

Brent led them through a narrow, perfectly kept alley, complete with a public art installation that looked like hundreds of large, colorful kites sailing above them. One of the cables anchoring the installation in place had come loose and was dangling enticingly close overhead. A couple of teenagers in the group jumped to try and grab it.

Leave it alone,” a woman, presumably their mother, hissed. “Show some respect!”

Brent ignored the comotion. He thought the tour guides who scolded people in their group, or barked orders, took all the fun out of it for the others. He simply pressed on, which tended to keep everyone on task to reach their next destination. He stopped in front of an old brick building and waited for everyone to catch up.

“We are standing in front of one of the last fully operational association houses. Up there,” Brent pointed to a brightly painted and decorated balcony three floors up, “written in character, of course, is the phrase, ‘The wind carries both good and bad to your door.’ It’s a sort of motto of this family association. I think it was, well, actually, still is meant as a warning that bad behavior is not tolerated here, and that only those pure of heart may enter.

“Travelers, visitors, new immigrants, upon reading that slogan, would know exactly which family association house this was. If you were of the same family, or had ties to the family name, then this was an appropriate house for you to find a bed for the night, something to eat, assistance, guidance, whatever your need.”

“What does that say?” asked a man holding a camera with a long telephoto lens and pointing to the terracotta archway over the main doors. Brent wasn’t sure what the man was indicating, until he stepped closer to the entrance and took a close look. He had not noticed the characters before. They were very small. So, unless, like the man with a telephoto lens, you had some sort of magnification, you would miss them entirely. The little bit of study Brent had made of Mandarin in college and in the years since helped him decipher the translation. But as he worked out the words, the thought came to him that it might be Japanese.

He stepped back to take in the building. The storefronts and businesses had signs in Mandarin, but he noted the building was just a block off of the predominantly Japanese neighborhood that stretched westward up the hill toward Little Saigon, something he had not taken into consideration before.

“Well, my friend,” Brent said to the man, “you managed to show me something I’ve never noticed!” The group chuckled. A woman said in a low voice to her companion, ‘thinks he’s such an expert…’ As with the comotion with the teenagers, Brent ignored the comment.

“What I can tell you is it says something to the effect, ‘Don’t pray for me, pray for them’, but what is fascinating is that I believe it’s in Japanese.”

The group stared at their tour guide, awaiting explanation. Brent flashed his big smile. “Not surprising. I mean, I will have to check out the ownership records to be sure, but we are on the border of the neighborhood that’s historically Japanese, so it’s possible a Japanese family or company owned the building at some point. Anyway…if you are interested, give me your email or number and I’ll let you know when I find out!”

At just that moment, Brent’s phone text beeped. He looked at it, but he didn’t need to. He knew it was the visitor’s center with a reminder that it was time to escort a tour back to Juniper Park.

“Sorry, folks, that text means we’re out of time! Before we head back, I want to thank you for coming along. I hope you enjoyed the tour and maybe learned something you didn’t know before. In conclusion, I wish all of you safe and happy travels, and encourage you to patronize any of the shops we pass by on our way back. My favorite is the little novelty shop across the street.”

Magic Products? What a weird name for a store,” the same snarky woman from before said. “Sounds like a snake oil sales pitch, if you ask me.”

“A literal translation of ‘Magic Shop’. Come on!,” Brent encouraged, “I’ll show you. It’s a great place!”

The Blog Propellant Redux #12

I used to maintain a writing prompt blog called The Blog Propellent. It was a lot of fun and these days, fun is what we need! Every so often, I will repost former TBP prompts.

Write a post! Fiction, poetry, even a true story based on the following prompt. When you are done, include the URL address of this post in your post. Simple! All those who read this post will have a link to your post, and all those who read your post will have a link this one. More readers = more followers (so they say). Regardless, it is fun to share. Anytime! Respond now, or come back to this prompt when it suits. “The door is always open.”

This week’s prompt: Select a photo below and write a fictional journal entry or memoir of the day the photo was taken.

***

The Blog Propellant New Prompt #2

I used to maintain a writing prompt blog called The Blog Propellent. It was a lot of fun and these days, fun is what we need! I have reposted several previous prompts, but this time, I put up a new one.

Write a post: Fiction, poetry, even a true story based on the following prompt. When you are done, include the URL address of this post in your post. Simple! All those who read this post will have a link to your post, and all those who read your post will have a link this one. More readers = more followers (so they say). Regardless, it is fun to share.

This week’s prompt:

Interview someone! Real or imagined. Come up with five questions and three follow-up questions to your interviewee’s answers. The Interviewer can be in first person, or a third person character.

***

The Blog Propellant Redux #12 New Prompt #1

I used to maintain a writing prompt blog called The Blog Propellent. It was a lot of fun and these days, fun is what we need! I have reposted several previous prompts, but this time, I have a brand-new one. Welcome to Literary Devices!

Write a post: Fiction, poetry, even a true story based on the following prompt. When you are done, include the URL address of this post in your post. Simple! All those who read this post will have a link to your post, and all those who read your post will have a link this one. More readers = more followers (so they say). Regardless, it is fun to share.

This week’s prompt:

Literary devices highlight important concepts in a text, strengthen the narrative, and help readers connect to the characters and themes. Some might work on an intellectual level, while others have a more emotional effect. They may also work to improve the flow and pacing of your writing.

Use Allegory in your story, character sketch or poem.

(from reedsy.com): In an allegorical story, things represent more than they appear to on the surface. Many children’s fables, such as “The Tortoise and the Hare,” are simple allegories about morality — but allegories can also be dark, complex, and controversial. Example: “Animal Farm” by George Orwell is a commentary on the events leading up to Stalin’s rise and the formation of the Soviet Union.

***


The Blog Propellant Redux #11

I used to maintain a writing prompt blog called The Blog Propellent. It was a lot of fun and these days, fun is what we need! Every so often, I will repost former TBP or WP prompts, or maybe a new one.

Write a post! Fiction, poetry, even a true story based on the following prompt. When you are done, include the URL address of this post in your post. Simple! All those who read this post will have a link to your post, and all those who read your post will have a link this one. More readers = more followers (so they say). Regardless, it is fun to share.

This week’s prompt:

“The apparel oft proclaims the man” – Wm. Shakespeare (Hamlet)

“What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today,
when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.” —Miuccia Prada

“I firmly believe that with the right footwear one can rule the world.” —Bette Midler

Write a fashion related character story. Here are some ideas to use, or to get you thinking:

  • Her first high heels or his first suit.
  • “That guy” in the ruffled tuxedo shirt and powder blue tails.
  • Uniform vs. “civies”.
  • The time the kids dressed and made up dad, or a pet.
  • A character’s clothing choice and how differently they feel, how they might change if they are made to make another choice.

***


The Blog Propellant Redux #10

I used to maintain a writing prompt blog called The Blog Propellent. It was a lot of fun and these days, fun is what we need! Every so often, I will repost former TBP or WP prompts, or maybe a new one.

Write a post! Fiction, poetry, even a true story based on the following prompt. When you are done, include the URL address of this post in your post. Simple! All those who read this post will have a link to your post, and all those who read your post will have a link this one. More readers = more followers (so they say). Regardless, it is fun to share.

This week’s prompt:

Picture prompt time again! Select one or all 3 image options:

***


The Blog Propellant Redux #9

I used to maintain a writing prompt blog called The Blog Propellent. It was a lot of fun and these days, fun is what we need! Every so often, I will repost former TBP or WP prompts, or maybe a new one.

The point is this: Write a post! Fiction, poetry, even a true story based on the following prompt. When you are done, include the URL address of this post in your post. Simple! All those who read this post will have a link to your post, and all those who read your post will have a link this one. More readers = more followers (so they say). Regardless, it is fun to share.


This week’s prompt:

During the holidays, stories are fantastic. Even the dull and routine undergo a fanciful transformation, like the winter storm that dumps tons of snow causing widespread disruption, horrible car wrecks, and hours of backbreaking labor, magically becomes

* “The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow / Gave a lustre of midday to objects below…”

So, as we take out our  garlands, strings of twinkling lights, glittering wreaths, Sugar Plum Fairies and Elves on Shelves from storage, let’s also take everyone on a journey through the back of our magical wardrobes into a fantastic world of miracles and wonder.


[ TNKerr detected a bit of monoku in this post. Not knowing what is a monoku, I looked it up. It is a variant of haiku: 17 or less syllables, typically in one line. Now, I don’t venture into poetry-land but I decided to analyze the post above (with the help of an online syllable calculator) and decided to try my hand at re-constructing in monoku form. For what’s it’s worth, here goes…]

Redo of Redux #9

During each and every holiday, our stories become fantastic.
Even the dull and routine undergo fanciful transformation,
like the storm that dumps buckets of snow, causing widespread disruption,
car spinouts, and hours of backbreaking labor shoveling driveways,
magically becomes a glittering winter wonderland:

“The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below” *

So, as we take out our garlands, strings of twinkling lights, glittering wreaths,
Sugar Plum Fairies and Elves on Shelves from our closets, let’s also
take our readers on a trip through the back of enchanted wardrobes
into a phantasmic world of marvelous imagings and wonder.

* From “A Visit from St. Nicholas“, or as it is more commonly known, Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Fun House of Nightmares and Pancakes

Gareth woke and rolled over on his side. He stared at Abbie, soundly asleep, as the scene from his nightmare dissipated. This is real, he whispered.

He slowly sat up, not wanting to disturb his girlfriend, and looked around his bedroom. This is real, he whispered again. He hunched over and closed his eyes. Nothing but blackness. He lay down and drifted back into sleep.

The smell of coffee and bacon roused him the next morning. Abbie, of course. She just gets it. No better way to overcome a bad night than a large breakfast. Thick strips of bacon, fried eggs over-easy, on top crispy hash browns and Tabasco sauce dribbled over all of it. Gareth took in a deep breath. And sourdough biscuits, or maybe pancakes?

He asked Abbie once how she knew. She said something casual, like she just felt like it, but she lied. Gareth’s mother. Whatever. Only one of the many smoke and mirrors games couples sometimes play with their relationship.


UnOLWG prompts this week: she just gets it; she lies; all done with mirrors

The Blog Propellant Redux #8

I used to maintain a writing prompt blog called The Blog Propellent. It was a lot of fun and these days, fun is what we need. Every so often, I will repost former TBP or WP prompts, or maybe a new one.

Write a post! Fiction, poetry, even a true story. When you are done, include the URL address of this post in your post. Simple! All those who read this post will have a link to your post. And, all that read your post will have a link this one. More readers = more followers (so they say).


This week’s prompt:

This is one of the very first prompts I posted. I changed it up just a little bit. Create a story, or tell a true story, about work/job/career. The following are some ideas for a story:

  • What was the impact of the first job held?
  • What was it about the best job held that makes it stand out from the others?
  • What about a job that fell short of hopes, dreams or expectations?
  • The job lost: What was going on that lead to a dismissal, or what happened as a result?
  • The boss, colleagues, co-workers, business partners, customers, clients, guests…What about them?
A TBP follower took this picture of a skeleton on a tricycle to share with me. So I made it one of my TBP “mascots”.

The Blog Propellant Redux #7

I used to maintain a writing prompt blog called The Blog Propellent. It was a lot of fun and these days, fun is what we need. Every so often, I will repost former TBP or WP prompts, or maybe a new one, like this week’s prompt.

Write a post! Fiction, poetry, even a true story. When you are done, include the URL address of this post in your post. Simple! All those who read this post will have a link to your post. And, all that read your post will have a link this one. More readers = more followers (so they say).


This week’s prompt:

Maybe some of you read the magazine, The Writer. If so, you saw the following. I figure, since they allow sharing, I’d do just that! Use one or more of the following prompts to START or END a story or poem:

  • Though she wasn’t one for gossip, Mrs. Jamison knew exactly who had started the fire.
  • One thing was certain: The mission was doomed from the beginning.
  • Keisha hesitated for only a moment before slipping the note in the locker.
  • He’d been wildly, savagely hungry for as long as I’d known him.