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Out on the town

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Beside herself with excitement, Teresa’s group stopped at Willie’s for tacos before going to their hotel on her first trip to the state capital for work. 

“I’d like an ice cold beer,” she drawled. “Listen, y’all … this is my first rodeo. All we have for drive-through in Delmar is Windy’s and McDugal’s. Know what I mean?”

A bit chagrinned at her naivete, Teresa’s co-workers stared at their menus, embarrassed. She was all smiles, though.

“Don’t judge! My husband greased up the bars some to let me out for this little jaunt. Otherwise keeps me at home all the time.” 

100-word Challenge: listen

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photo credit: Dennis Sylvester Hurd via Flickr

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Check-Up

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Jim Earl headed to town bright and early, his patience waning at getting Ginny to her doctor appointment. The antiquarian white-knuckled the wheel at “2” and “10” as if loosening his hold would end disastrously.

Passing drivers never suspected that cowboy hat brim covered a dome with only a few remnant hairs. Jim Earl kept laser focus on the road ahead, his love’s ailments outweighing his own.

An undetected stroke brought on oxygen-deprived dementia, except Jim Earl never went to the doctor himself. Not even his beloved realized. Getting lost that day was the first of many times to come.

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100 Word Challenge – patience 

 

 

 

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Un-mending the wall

“I thought you died, stupid cur,” Marie muttered as she walked Woody past the house next door. She hated and cursed it since the bulldog mix attacked her Lab. He’d simply tried to make friends, invisible fence or not. Its instinct taught Woody canine manners and territory.

Just like his owner.

Another neighbor said Tom wasn’t such a bad guy. Marie couldn’t deny what Robert Frost claimed about fences and neighbors.

“I’d sure hate to beat you both with a plastic bag of shit …” She flashed them the side-eye and brought Woody to heel.

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Karma’s Cut

“Damn!” Mandy hollered when the sharp-nozzled vacuum hose cascaded to meet shinbone flesh already scarred by early-teen shaving hacks. “That’s gonna hurt me,” she lamented.

Stooping to retrieve the utensil, she peeked under her armpit in case anyone witnessed her sucking up passenger glass Pam kicked out the night before. “Just act casual. Can’t have anybody see me clean the blood.”

A high cost would come with suspicion of just what evidence was actually being purged. “A little bird might sing to the cops,” Mandy mouthed under her breath as she pulled of the Quick Wash and onto the street.    

100-Word Challange: Bird

Image courtesy Heath Parsons (creative commons) via Flickr

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“Now I lay me down to sleep” (re-posted in consideration of everyone without the luxury of warmth)

via Maureen Sill on Flickr
via Maureen Sill on Flickr

Walking the dog was never so harrowing before. An unseasonably cold chill in the air that morning sent my hands directly into my coat pockets for warmth. Finding no comfortable gloves there meant my hands stayed put and my canine companion ran off-leash. His sharp Setter nose zoned in on a smell that led us into a landfill and on an adventure like no other we’d had or hope to experience again.

Max barked to signal he’d found his prize. It was one for which there was no requital. Only the dog’s olfactories had paid off, but the much-sought-after scent offered little reward. Except perhaps to friends of the person discovered there if he’d been missing. A middle-aged homeless man’s remains lay amidst the rubbish. He met his final demise in a mound of debris, and his perfectly still body was unmistakably that of someone long-perished from this life. Maybe his family hadn’t known where he was and longed to see his face again, its features weathered and worn since the last time they’d visited each other.

An immediate call to the authorities didn’t erase the image from my mind or lift the weight off my heart. Their investigation revealed he was apparently crushed in a garbage truck before being dumped at the trash transfer station. No detail of the circumstances could possibly bring closure to the guy’s family.

I wonder where he was resting to preserve body heat. It bothers me to imagine having nowhere else to go under those unbearable conditions. The bitter, miserable cold that could cause someone to sleep in a dumpster for warmth or what other dire conditions might have driven him there. Such utter desperation.

My hands didn’t feel so cold after all.

Odd, how all of humankind’s refuse ends up in a landfill somewhere. A person isn’t trash, though. I can think of no one who deserves such a place as their burial plot.

Everything seems so disposable. Except people. We pollute the planet with both the items we discard and the beings we ignore. So much is discarded that it may build up enough one day to ultimately destroy this place, our home.

Earth is an interesting place. I’ll hate to leave it one day.

–for Steven, a man I didn’t know, who lived but 44 years on this planet

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*This fictional post is based on a true story in the newspaper. writing prompt: planet

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Hanging Way Over

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Those bloodshot eyes hinted at what short-term memory couldn’t recapture. The puffy reflection in the medicine cabinet mirror confirmed it must have been one hell of a time. She opened the door and rattled around with shaking hands in search of a fast-acting pain reliever. Maybe a razor to shave the fur off her tongue. Elves must have knitted a tiny sweater and placed it there for warmth during her spinning slumber.

A glass bottle fell to the porcelain sink and shattered, startling her. This hammering headache was bound to linger longer than the temporary fun from the night before.

 

100 Word Challenge:  Fun

Photo:  Image Catalog via Flickr

 

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Taking In the Scenery

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That gray day obscured visibility and led to Mrs. Tolson’s accident but also reflected the farmer’s mood upon learning his heifer broke through the fence. The cow in the road caused a wreck that risked everything Mose Riley worked many hard years to earn. A legal battle still simmered over who held the liability for fault.

Mose swung a hammer to drive in the next nail for fence repair and caught a sidelong glimpse at crows that pecked debris left on the pavement. The specks of brain matter and intestine scattered across the blacktop reminded him of the mess he had ahead of him in court. “Damn that Clara,” he murmured to himself. “Why did she choose that stretch of wood to topple? A hundred yards down the row and she’d have just gone over into the neighbor’s field. Damn her all to hell.”

Mrs. Tolson’s lawyer later criticized the farmer’s negligence in not seeing a hole during the prior feeding time when he’d last checked his cattle. “Had the defendant repaired the perimeter fence, my client would never have met the fatal end to her Sunday evening drive,” the attorney contended.

Mose cursed the insurance adjuster who warned him to not say a defensive word about it. “Let’s not rile them. Keep the damages to a minimum,” the man cautioned.

Farming had always been a financial risk, but Riley lamented seeing all that money metaphorically splayed in a ditch beside the road. The carcass rested in a mangled mass just across the pavement since the Sheriff refused to let him take the cow away to slaughter. It needed to stay there as evidence until their fatality investigation concluded.

“Not only will my rates go up, but I gotta see Clara laying there and not even be able to turn her into burger. Lost her as a producer AND steaks, too,” he thought. One broken brown leg twisted around behind her haunch in a supremely painful-looking position. All the cow’s inner fluids had leaked through the boundaries of her body, and an incredible stench emitted from her bloated form. No future calves from Clara, and not even a rib-eye for dinner.

Spitting a long sluice of tobacco in the direction of the remains, Mose decided to leave the calculation of lost money to another day. “Dammit if she don’t stink, too,” he swore aloud. “I just wish she’d have landed on the insurance man instead of Mrs. Tolson.” Maybe the coyotes would scavenge enough in the night to take care of that stench.

Riley looked away and went back to his mending. “This blasted fence won’t fix itself neither,” he mumbled and gave the post a swift kick.

*Our Write Side prompt – supremely or very

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The Youngest One in Curls

15444909486_a0c87c381b_bJoleen woke with one eye fixed on faux wood-grain paneled wall of a tiny 4×4 room in her mother’s house trailer. Her tongue seemed velcroed to the roof of her mouth, and she had to think for a minute where she was. The room became another temporary stay-over after getting fired from her Sunoco cashier job and losing the old rental house. Inside her skull felt like a ball peen hammer rapped against the frontal lobe.

The other eye didn’t open, as it was swollen shut, another telltale sign of the previous night’s inebriation. Apparently a fist glued it closed when her loose lips pissed somebody off at the bar, a conversation the young woman couldn’t quite call to memory.

She yelled toward the bedroom door, “What the hell is all that racket?” The volume of her raspy voice intensified the headache she suddenly realized came from all the beers she lost count drinking.

No one answered her question, but the noise continued. Joleen started to question whether it was real or just the pounding of her headache. She tried again. “Anybody here?”

“You’re the one yelling,” Joleen’s mother answered from the adjacent bathroom. “That’s the only thing I hear, girl. I’m trying to enjoy some peace and quiet for a change.”

Her mother’s husband must’ve already left for the day, so the woman had retreated to the john instead of him for a change. Their house usually reeked to high heaven. With more than two adults squatting in a space that small, bathroom smells tend to stink up a place.

Joleen never imagined herself living with the pair of them. This certainly wasn’t what she’d envisioned for herself, her childhood hopes merely fairy tales of what she’d wished would come true. It wasn’t until much later she discovered everything they’d told her as a kid was a lie. Television, teachers, everybody touted the same bullshit philosophies.

Being so young and naive, she believed it all. Why should she think they fabricated the dream at the time? Experience taught her otherwise.

“Girl, you better get your ass outta that bed before that social worker gets here.” Her mother stood in the bedroom doorway zipping the fly of her pants. “If you want to keep up that unemployment check, wash that greasy hair and make yourself presentable. Show her something besides that shiner on your face.”

Joleen grumbled and covered her head with the blanket. “What happened to ya anyways? Looks like ya didn’t get the best of the situation,” the older woman chuckled. “Thought I learned ya better than that.”

“I don’t know exactly, but I don’t need you bitchin’ at me about it,” she answered sarcastically. “That rag social worker will be doing that soon enough. She’ll clean her car with bleach wipes when I get out of it whether I shower or not. Thinks I got lice or something.”

Her mom laughed out loud and turned around in the cramped hallway to retreat to the living room. A laugh-track of a Brady Bunch re-run rang out from the television.

“And turn that damn t.v. down. My head’s about to split open,” she spat at the woman’s back.Only another chuckle came in response.

The musical clatter of the show’s closing credits assaulted her eardrums, but at least its loudness subsided. The song, which she knew by heart, then mentally repeated with the beat of her temporal pulse.

“I wonder where you got yer glowing personality, Joleen,” her mom called. “Musta been yer daddy’s side.” Contempt leaked from her tone. “No wonder somebody dotted yer eye.”

“Oh, thanks, Momma. Your motherly love and concern warms my heart.” Joleen grumbled again, shot her the finger behind her back, and rolled over trying to sneak in just another five minutes to quell her throbbing forehead.

“I’m tellin’ ya. You best get outta there and wash yer ass, Joleen!” A sudden pounding slogged from the front door down the hall to yank her upright on the mattress.

“Oh, shit,” her mother guffawed. “Too late!”

 

*Our Write Side writing prompt: fabricated

(photo: Freaktography via Flickr)

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Out With a Bang

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“Look out or you’ll blow your damn fool fingers off,” Raleigh told her. He held the punk for her, but Lenay resented her boyfriend’s insinuation. She didn’t need him telling her how to do everything.

“I might look ignorant, but I’m not stupid,” she said. The girl knew how to handle a bottle rocket, had been in plenty of throwing wars with her brothers. At times it would be nice to have those boys around.

Raleigh acted so self-righteous, as if he could save her from herself or something. “You get one beer in ya and get all full of yourself, girl.” He tightened his grip around her forearm a little tighter like he usually did as a warning. Right before he began to get angry.

Lenay looked up when a burst of green and gold blew up in the sky over their car parked on the hill. Small trails of light filtered down from overhead and trickled through the darkness as if to land on treetops and set the woods ablaze. They had a great vantage point to watch the town fireworks display.

Not that the couple in the back seat noticed. The two groped at each other like dogs in heat. Quite a duo they made for a double-date.

She shot Raleigh her most flirtatious smile, which seemed to diffuse his temper, so she tugged her arm away. “Come on. This is supposed to be fun. Remember?”

“Just watch what yer doing, huh? I’m not driving you to the hospital.” That was probably the truth.

He might just let me bleed out, she thought. Leave me laying here for good, the bastard. “All I want is to shoot off some fireworks, Raleigh. Do some sparklers. Let’s enjoy ourselves for a change.”

Raleigh apologized the last time he got rough. Said he’d never do it again. Grabbing her arm like that didn’t seem like he was so sorry.

Another blast exploded overhead, this time blue and red, and spiraled outward from its point of detonation. She watched the tendrils of light drift downward and considered what the fireworks supposedly meant, what they celebrated.

“Hmmm, freedom,” she said out loud, more or less to herself.

Raleigh shook his head at her. “What the hell are you talking about? You’re freakin’ crazy.” She breathed deeply, exhaled, and bent over to dig in a brown paper bag of firecrackers.

Raleigh shouted toward the car, “And what the hell is wrong with you two?” He clenched his fists in front of his body, pumped his elbows back and forth in tandem with a forward and backward hip thrust, and guffawed loudly at himself. “Woohoo!”

Lenay suddenly felt fearless, even without her brothers to back her up. She tore the thin red paper from a pack of Black Cats to expose the fuse, set the bunch on the ground behind where Raleigh stood humping the air, and flicked her lighter to set it all on fire.

The eruption served as her favorite of the night, although she didn’t wait to watch Raleigh jump around and dodge the sparks. She’d have loved to see his hotfoot but was too busy turning the key and shifting her car into drive. The couple in the back seat finally sat up, suddenly startled. They grabbed ahold of the front seat as Lenay punched the gas and sped away, leaving Raleigh to his solo dance.

“Be careful, there, boy,” she told his reflection in the rearview mirror.

(image: Jdmoar)

Our Write Side writing prompt – fearless

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Real-life Cameo

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I thought I saw Stan Lee driving down a back road in a red Honda late this afternoon. Same burly silver mustache and translucent skin, a ball cap bill hovering over eyeglasses left over from the ’70s. He’d probably be driving an Accord, though, over of a standard, factory-straight Civic. So a person never knows. It could have been him.

Doing a double-take, I threw it in reverse and whipped around to follow him. Wouldn’t Pete just have a conniption when he found out I trailed the dude? But Pete wasn’t there to win me over with reasoned logic, and I had nowhere else to be anyway.

Heat rose up from the pavement ahead, but I could still see the Honda’s brake lights at a stop sign maybe a half-mile up the road. Snapping a pic as evidence might shut Pete up over the deal, him always calling me a liar. He would never believe me unless I got an autograph from his hero of super heroes, the thought of which coaxed my pressure on the gas to catch up. I couldn’t let him turn off without me seeing where the car went.

I leaned back toward the rear seat, swerved a bit as I did, and grappled to reach something for him to sign – a magazine, brochure, even a fast food receipt. Anything for his signature. Among all the crap there, not a comic to be found. What I’d give for just one Spider-Man, no matter how ratty.

The library would charge me a fortune for the novel I found nestled in the floorboard – the only paper my fingertips could purchase. Payment for a book meant nothing compared to Pete eating crow.

My junker started to shake at hitting 60 but shimmied to a halt behind the Honda’s dented rear quarter panel at a four-way stop. “Huh,” I thought, “you’d think he had enough money to get that fixed.”

With no time for such random speculation, I had to make a move. A fine line of sweat formed on my top lip. “People say he’s a nice guy, playing a part in all his superhero movies. Surely he’d give me a signature.” No others cars within sight, I stomped on it and bolted to the left, pulled up alongside, one hand on my steering wheel and the other rolling down the passenger window.

The decrepit driver’s body convulsed in surprise at the sudden move, perhaps frightened he was about to get jacked. He shoved the cap backward on his head to reveal a liver-spot-covered face definitely not that of Pete’s favorite comic author. The startled old guy’s mouth hung agape, and sucked my gaze into the maw.

Our heads shook in simultaneous violent disbelief. He gesticulated wildly and yelled, “First the swerving, and now this! Whadda you want?”

After a beat, I waved in apology and sped past the Honda. Getting on down the road meant I didn’t have to witness how long it took him to recover from surprise. Pete wouldn’t hear about the caper after all.

Two Word Tuesday prompt – conniption

Image via Nicholas A. Tonelli on Flickr

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