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A Mother’s Love


They stoked up quite a kerfuffle right there in front of the principal’s secretary and several other parents. Angel’s thin frame shook in anger, cheekbones stabbing out through skin stretched over her hollowed-out face. She stood opposite her mother, Lilly’s grandmother, in a showdown just before the girl’s Kindergarten graduation was scheduled to begin. Two grown adults, mother and daughter, set to throw down.

Angel having been awake for 24 hours didn’t help her mental state. Her latest boyfriend kept her up the night before to sample his latest batch, which helped kindle the paranoia of her mother’s determination to get her six-year old taken away by Child Protective Services. She may not take the best care of Lilly, but she wouldn’t stand for anyone’s public criticism.

Lilly lived with her grandma, or the girl would’ve fended for herself the entire school year. Her momma might actually love her, too, but she loved her drugs of choice as much or more.

“What’s going on out here?” Mrs. Phillips rushed into the hallway at all the yelling to find the pair about to square off.

“I’ll be damned if that woman’s allowed in here to watch my baby’s program,” Angel said. “Can’t you see to it she’s kicked outta this school?” Her nose hovered so menacingly close to her mother’s that the rot from Angel’s teeth seemed the only thing keeping them apart.

The principal’s eyebrows arched, incredulous at the younger woman’s assumption. “Not if she’s Lilly’s legal guardian, Angel,” she replied. “And this altercation cannot happen here. You’re both going to need to settle down if you want to stay.” She glanced back and forth between the pair in search of any reaction to the contrary and noticed only a difference in weight and wrinkled skin between the two. Same bleached hair, same defensive demeanor. Angel might become a split image of her mother in a few years, if she lived to experience it.

Fortunately choosing seats on opposite sides the center aisle, the ceremony began without students or other audience members being any the wiser. “The show must go on, as they say,” Mrs. Phillips told her secretary. Unless someone moved out of the district before August, she’d have to deal with this kith and kin again all too soon in the new school year.

Thirteen children wearing miniature blue caps and gowns lined the wooden risers on the stage, and their families beamed up at them from folding chairs across the gymnasium floor. Cherubic Lilly grinned down from her row, and she raised a hand to wave at her grandma.

Our Write Side prompt: kerfuffle (one of my favorite words)

Photo: glasseyejack via Flickr

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punch glass

final installment in Reunion series – following New Old Friends

Gwen and Jennifer continued their conversation with Gwen’s husband, Cameron, while sipping vodka-spiked punch that kept the trio in a celebratory mood. They rose glass after glass to toast health and friendship, and the awkward confrontation with Jennifer’s ex earlier in the evening was soon forgotten.

Other classmates stared from adjacent seats, perhaps jealous of their lively exchange, and seemed catatonic in comparison. Laughter exploded from their table and even caught the attention of Matt’s young wife. Despite her bedazzling appearance with no lines emerging  on her face like everyone else’s there, the poor woman looked trapped in a dutiful gloom of boredom. Anyone watching the scene would feel her palpable disappointment at coming to his 20-year high school class reunion.

She could’ve used a drink if not for her husband’s self-proclaimed, if not pretentious, victory over his alcoholism. Jennifer remembered their teenage dalliances during what seemed a short time but actually happened over two decades ago, how she and Matt practiced anything but safe sex. They, as stupid kids, drank a lot and took more chances than other not-so-lucky couples.

What she couldn’t recall was how she and Gwen ever became friends. Was it in class, at lunch, maybe even in the principal’s office? Jen saw enough of the administrative wing back when she spent several days in detention for skipping school with Matt.

Gwen seemed to read her mind. The woman confessed, “We only had one class together, Jennifer. Gym in freshman year. Back when so many girls bullied me because I was big. Bigger than any of them anyway.” Jennifer looked down at her lap in hopes she wasn’t one of them.

“Oh, no,” Gwen said efficaciously. “Not you. You were the only one nice to me in P.E.” Jennifer exhaled, glad to know she hadn’t been one of the culprits. “Or at least took up for me, though you didn’t really know me. You told them to shut up and leave me alone.”

Jennifer nodded, relieved. “I have to admit I don’t remember. Some of those girls were such jerks, I tried to not act like them. They could be so mean. At least I didn’t participate in that.”

Gwen’s husband sat quietly listening to their conversation and reached over to clasp his wife’s folded hands as she stared blankly across the room. Cameron sensed the subject’s obvious sensitivity, as Gwen absentmindedly rubbed the inside of one wrist. After the awkward silence, she nodded toward a group of people standing beside the dance floor. “A couple of them are right over there.”

Cameron and Jennifer turned to look at the bunch, and Jennifer recognized two girls she’d ran around with back in school. Gwen continued, “I was pretty torn up about all that for a while. Even into college when I met Cameron.” She squeezed her husband’s hand, and he smiled at her reassuringly.

“It was hard for me to come tonight, but I vowed to never let people like that bother me again. To be proud of who I am.” Gwen shrugged and laughed, “Cameron always tells me I’m beautiful, even though I know he’s exaggerating.”

“You are to me, hon,” Cameron said. He got up to refresh their empty punch glasses.

A brief silence followed his leaving before Jennifer finally said, “I’m really glad you came up to talk to me tonight, Gwen. I was pretty nervous about coming here myself because I didn’t want to see Matt. You’ve made it fun, and I forgot all about that despicable person. So thanks.”

“You’re welcome. And I want to thank you, too. You made my freshman year a lot more tolerable. Even if you didn’t remember me tonight.” She winked at Jennifer.

Jennifer’s mouth fell open in fake shock. “Was it that obvious?” They laughed.

“No worries,” Gwen told her. “It doesn’t matter, because we’re friends now.” She glanced up at her husband’s return to the table. He held three partially-filled glasses of punch, and Gwen pulled a bottle of clear alcohol out of her purse to fill the remaining space in each. “Let’s toast to that!”

*Studio 30+ writing prompt – efficacious s30p

Image: blogto.com


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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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In God’s Name


robbplusjessie – flickr creative commons

Such a lovely summer afternoon generates a wonderful mood, with the breeze blowing and clouds diffusing the heat as they drift in front of the sun. Folks gathered there instead glanced around at each other in stunned bereavement, their eyes glazed over with grief. The cemetery. No one should have to spend an amazing day like that at a funeral.

Friends of the deceased young man milled about behind the line of family members at graveside. Fellow service members weren’t able to attend the hometown memorial as most of them were still at their duty station. Others from his unit were still hospitalized from injuries they’d sustained in the IED explosion. His were too serious to survive and snuffed out his life at a mere 27 years.

A procession of motorcycles ran along the entire block of lanes surrounding the section of cemetery where he’d be buried. Bikers presented a formidable show of force, a seemingly impenetrable shield surrounding the gravesite, and Sergeant Miller’s family was glad to have the friendly strangers there. Especially burly ones who embodied such strength.

Having their protection made the Millers feel safe in a situation where no such assurance should’ve been necessary. Their son had given his life for his country — the ultimate sacrifice — yet his loved ones and friends had to restrict attendance to only those individuals truly paying their respects. Unfortunately, others arrived who were anything but courteous.

A short motorcade of them tried to pull up to the plot unnoticed in their dented-up vehicles with Kansas license plates. The first car, a faded yellow, late-model Chevy Caprice, came to a stop, and a small man emerged from the front passenger door. His hubris preceded him through an arrogant smile that slithered across his face. He was short and thin, with cheekbones threatening to slice through his transparent skin and dingy blond hair that had grayed into the dull color of metal. Removing a straw cowboy hat, its plastered ring still encircling his head, he waved the Stetson in a broad swoop before him. The gesture seemed a rallying cry to his troops.

The legion of followers emerged from their vehicles — station wagons with small children and teenagers, as well as trucks and SUVs with adult passengers — lifting their block-lettered signs from within. Every last one of them had a message to deliver from the Westboro Baptist Church. They wanted the world to know their congregation’s purpose.  The group, like their leader, believed this funeral needed to be protested. It was their purpose to interrupt a calm, quiet goodbye to a young United States service member in order to purport their mission of hatred.

Signs read, “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “Thank God for IEDs.” Others read, “God Hates Fags” and “Fags Die God Laughs.” Funeral goers saw the yellow and black signs emerge in the hands of school-aged kids, and their wails of sorrow grew louder than before. The church members seemed unfazed and urged their children forward to form a parade line. Adult faces, like that of their conductor, glowed with vitriol and indignation, whereas the little ones’ seemed perplexed and anxious. Prods from their elders kept the tiny minions moving regardless of their stilted steps.

A cacophony of motorcycle engines broke through the increasing volume of discord on both sides of the cemetery lane, those on the lush green lawn and others holding harsh placards on the hard, cold pavement. The bikers gunned their motors and moved in between the two factions, revving their bikes to declare their purpose – keeping the unwelcome visitors away from the funeral. An over-sized American flag billowing from the lead motorcycle blocked the church leader’s face from the sight line of dead soldier’s family.

As the driver of the first bike lowered his kickstand, he removed his helmet and approached the man standing defiantly with his cowboy hat in hand and trying to whip his followers into a frenzy. A twisted expression and too-large dentures accentuated his ghoulish features and emphasized the monster he truly embodied, but he seemed to shrink as the leather-vested gentleman neared him. No one else could hear the few words expressed at such close range to the bilious little man, but the congregation recognized his signal for immediate retreat. They all turned, hustled the children back into the cars, and withdrew from the scene in haste.

The clamor faded into the distance, and appreciative cheers of funeral goers eventually settled down, too. The motorcyclists escorted the stymied Westboro bunch out and blocked any chance at re-entry so the burial ceremony could proceed as originally planned. An overhead row of cumulus clouds fully dispersed, and only the harmonious summer songbirds accompanying the eulogy remained to be heard.

One more disgraceful disaster averted … unfortunately, so many more to come.  frifriwri250

*This post is being submitted for The Friday Fright Write at Cheney’s blog Giving Up The Ghost. She prompted participants to “write about the scariest creature you can imagine.”


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Camp NaNoWriMo win!

It’s my first time to succeed at the crunch-time writing known as “NaNoWriMo.”  The regular NaNoWriMo exercise occurs in November, National Novel Writing Month, when writers force themselves to produce around 1600 words per day to complete a novel in one month’s time.  The stipulations are looser for “Camp,” which happens in April and July each year, with each person setting an individual goal.  Image

I am exhilarated to boast about surpassing my personal attempt at 30,000 words (+671) for the win!  Our randomly-assigned cabin is not likely to succeed as a group with the deadline looming tomorrow, but we can all celebrate our joint effort at the closing cyber (albeit imaginary) campfire.

The Office of Letters and Light is a nonprofit organization that runs the novel-in-a-month practice and supports a Young Writers Program.  Sponsorship contributions and participant donations fund this wonderful effort.  Congratulations to anyone else who also accomplished a writing goal this month!

So look for my forthcoming novel, Her Own Way, about two young women who spend their first summer of independence in a unique lake community where they learn excitement can also lead to danger.


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The Dark – Studio 30+ weekly prompt

The window panes leaked a bit, so water dripped incessantly down the wall. There were so many repairs to be made to the house that some of them remained ignored. While the small river running down the eggshell sheetrock was hard to ignore, the sound of the summer shower was a more reassuring presence. It lulled the drowsy girls into a somnambulistic sense of safety that fooled them into believing they were alone and safe on their hillside plot in its remote location.



Whoever had paid them an unwelcome visit before, the one they spied from a darkened living room crouched behind a bulging old couch, was apparently lurking outside again. The uninvited “guest” out in the rain made enough noise to not mask his or her location behind the smaller trees and brush along the western wall of the sun porch. Its wire mesh gave no sound barrier, revealing someone was out there, and provided little camouflage of the coward’s hiding place.

They could hear a faint rustling of the leaves, more of a damp brushing of clothing against the dense limbs, that gave away the close proximity of the intruder to the house. Silently chastising herself for not automatically going for Grandpa’s dusty rifle hidden at the ready behind her bedroom door, Thea herded Paula behind the island in the kitchen. “I know you’re scared, but let go of my wrist – dang,” Paula whispered between clenched teeth.

Thea loosened her grip but remained frozen, as if the slightest move might spring a trap on them. They listened intently for any more movement outside their open windows, the soft patter of the raindrops providing a backdrop to the otherwise silent surroundings. Thea’s shoulders began to stiffen at the muscle strain of hunching down in her huddled position. She looked at her friend, whose eyebrows raised to question their next move.

With the unacceptable reply of a shrug, Paula began to unfold herself from the cramped position behind wooden shelving where they cowered. She muttered, “Errr … will not stay here like a sitting duck,” in a scramble to rise and finally huffed out, “Who’s out there?”  Her voice resounded through the sun porch entryway, its door fully ajar, and penetrated the porch walls’ webbed wiring. Paula slammed her hands down on the island counter top for full effect of her anger at the violation. There was no response.

Moments drug by in a seeming vacuum, save for the tick of the fireplace mantle clock and the sluggish drip of water running off the porch’s guttering. Any other time Thea may have joined in her friend’s vehemence at the situation. She instead grappled for Paula’s arm when the young woman shook off her stillness and began to stomp around the side of the counter.

She pleaded with her, “No, Paula, wait …” A leery fear kept Thea pinioned in place. Paula wasn’t going to stay frozen in fear cowering beneath the pine counter, much like paper plates stashed behind its plaid cotton curtains.

Knots in the wood were like eyes that stared at Thea accusingly in her submissive position below shelves of pans and other service ware. The frightened girl flinched from self-doubt, pinched her eyes shut, and scolded herself for her inaction.

She took an extra-deep, cleansing breath and blew it out … loudly … exhaling it into an exclamation, “Yeaaah! Who’s out there?” She and slowly rose up to standing and stepped around the counter to join her friend in the doorway. Their view was obstructed by the deepening darkness and its veil of precipitation, but solidarity strengthened their resolve to fight a mutual fear. They stood together against what was hiding there in the shadows, threatened mainly by an imagined danger.

Paula yelled, “We know you were here before and are back again!”  The girls clasped hands to solidify their intent to fight back.

Thea projected her wavering voice into the lingering rain, out into the cover of wet leaves, of tree trunks and limbs.  “This is my house — not yours!”  She cleared her throat to regain composure, and clamped her left hand into a tighter entwine with Paula’s right.  She yelled, “Get the hell out of here, whoever you are!  We’re not scared of you!”  Thea grabbed the door with her free hand and slammed it shut, the sound echoing across the property.

She said softly to her friend, “I wish I really meant that.


This post generated from the Studio 30+ writing prompt shower.  Studio 30+


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The Exodus (Studio 30+ prompt )

“But, Myrna, it’s supposed to be one of the best places to retire in the entire country,” Bart argued, his brow furrowed and deepened the lines on his sallow forehead. He reminded his wife of a grumpy old cartoon man, one from the Sunday funnies, or maybe an animated fish ready to expel its inky toxin into the water. Myrna and Bart had this discussion on regular basis over the last few weeks, and he had yet to convince her of Branson, Missouri being a viable alternative to their current residence. He was ready to leave the travails of his previous career — and their lifelong home — behind them and make new in a different city.  She was not.

His tirade continued, “Come on now … we could get a condo dirt cheap.” Just what she wanted, a dirt cheap condo in a place where she’d rather take a punch in the eye than live. “The kids can come visit us for a change since it’s smack dab in between where they both live, and the grandkids will love it there, too,” Bart feebly added to his argument. Myrna couldn’t be convinced.

(Photo: Dennis Macdonald, Getty Images)

(Photo: Dennis Macdonald, Getty Images)

She said, “The kids won’t spend the money for fare into that tiny little airport, and Grace and Sam can’t fly by themselves yet. They don’t want to visit us anyway, Bart. Face it – we’re old and boring.” No amount of coaxing about go-kart tracks, water parks, and some place down the highway called Silver Dollar City was going to sway those grandchildren into spending any significant amount of their summer vacation in the sweltering Midwest. Especially not in the Ozarks in the height of its humidity. Or at least no more than a weekend, which their parents — her own children — wouldn’t financially support but cost for which Bart certainly wasn’t going to spring.

He came at her from every angle. “There’s great golf there, I hear. Anderson and his old lady retired there, so he had their development’s realtor send me a personal invitation to take a tour.” Great, she thought sarcastically, just the people I want to associate with in our golden years. “Darling, you know that doesn’t interest me,” she told him. “And his wife was not asked back to our Bunko night after that incident, you remember?”  Oh, no, Myrna mentally pleaded – don’t make me spend any more time with that woman.

“She’s been to Betty Ford since then, Myrna, just before they moved.” Bart’s monologue was unending. “Anderson tells me that Andy Williams has a great show, too. You’re always trying to get me to to see crap like that.”

“He died, hon,” Myrna quickly interjected.

“And Anderson says ol’ Dolly Parton has that Dixie Stampede place where you eat supper and watch a Wild West show at the same time!  Maybe she’ll be there when we are.”  Just what I need, Myrna conjectured, dust settling around the dinner table and buffalo chips flying into my plate.  She caught herself squinching the “11” permanently etched between her eyebrows into a cynical mass of perpendicular lines. She simply replied, “That just doesn’t sound very appetizing, Bart.”

He looked forward to a change at finally leaving the rat race. Hours spent with his friend out on the links, leaving the hens behind to do — whatever it is they might do — just no more of their prattling on about nonsense. No more traffic, a life of leisure out on the lake, and people their same age instead of these young bucks who took over his and Anderson’s sales jobs. That is, if his ticker would yet allow it all to happen.

He wouldn’t be deterred from making a final stand. “Oh, listen, gal.  I suspect you’ll love it there.” What she didn’t know was that he’d already booked their tickets into the little wood-replicated airport nestled back in the hills that his former colleague had described. They had an appointment at the Palatial Pines Co-op Association coming up the next week, and he’d placed a deposit on one of their charming villas. This is what he’d toiled for his entire adult life. Bart wanted to get there quickly before Yakov Smirnov retired. It’s going to be great, he thought.  Everything’s going to be swell.

This post sprang from the weekly Studio 30+ writing prompt swell and a recent USA Today article claiming the best places in the U.S. to retire. Studio30   


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Fish Tales

Mr. McCall had known Julia since she was a little girl. Her grandparents owned land by his place, and he’d practically watched her grow up. That was long before her parents divorced and her mother had lost her mind in the aftermath.

Mrs. McCall had died sometime in between, and Julia’s mom had tried to help him recover from his loss. She had been unreachable in her own sorrow, though. Julia remembered going to Mr. McCall’s house for something to eat when her mother would space out for days on end. The widower took Julia and her brother under his wing, fed them and made sure they were safe when their mom was mentally lost to them.

Her dad’s leaving had scarred them all, but mostly their mother. It was a good thing their mom’s example didn’t affect Julia and her brother any more than it did, or they’d never have made it out of that miserable existence. Mr. McCall was a life-saving father figure after her dad’s abandonment, and Mac — as they called him — helped give them the substance to survive both physically and emotionally.

Julia needed a strong male presence as much as her teenage brother did. There were otherwise so many bad influences in their world, especially for a pretty and impressionable young girl like her. The most daunting one was unfortunately her brother’s best friend, Pete, but Mr. McCall tried to see to it that Pete didn’t bother Julia. At least not if he could help it.

Mac talked to Julia’s brother once about how bad he thought Pete was for both him and Julia. To no avail. He’d noticed a change in Julia’s behavior around that boy in the last few months, though, and he feared what may have already happened between the two.

He was taking a chance, with Julia not being family and all, but decided to discuss the matter with her anyway. If her own family wasn’t there to step in, he was the next best thing to it. Damn her mother for not doing so herself.


The old man took the girl fishing from time to time and decided to broach the subject one of those peaceful afternoons. They had their own spot on the bank where they usually set up, away from where the boys or other neighbors could hear their conversation. It was within this seclusion that Mac stumbled over his words in an abridged version of the-birds-and-the-bees as well as the boy-birds-gone-bad.

This was heretofore a discussion he’d never imagined having with a girl her age, the daughter or granddaughter Mac never had himself. “Now, Julia, honey,” he began. “I wanna tell you something that your momma mightn’t never had told you before.” She sat on the ground with her pole in the water, its red bobber bouncing on the surface, in rapt attention at Mac’s exhortation. “You have to watch out for boys. I know because, believe it or not, I once was one myself.” A slight smile crept across her face but quickly disappeared when she realized he was quite serious.

Mac continued, “You need to watch what you’re doing … and watch what THEY’RE doing. ‘Cause them boys might be up to no good. You’re becoming quite a fetching young woman, and adolescent boys might not be trusted around a looker like you. Their bodies start to take over for them.” Julia began to protest, her face flushing to a darkening crimson, “Oh, come on, Mac …”

“You let me finish,” he admonished. “Your daddy’s not here to warn you about how some boys aren’t gentlemanly but will act a certain way to get you to … warm up to ‘em. And I just want you to be on your guard.” Julia’s gaze was downcast by now, but she respected her elder and listened to his advice. To prevent any further embarrassment on both their parts, Mac decided to stop while he was ahead. He asked, “You understand what I’m saying here, hon?”

She raised her head to meet his eyes and gave a slight nod. Julia said, “No worries, Mac. I still have that old pocket knife you once gave me for my birthday, and I know how to use it if the need arises.” She’d succeeded in cutting the thick tension with her knife of humor.

Mac was the most positive influence in her life, and Julia knew he’d do anything in his power to protect her. There was no way she could tell him what Pete had already done.

I used the weekly writing prompt fetching from the Studio 30+ online writing community.


image: cjdjkobe at everystockphoto.com (attribution license)


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The Buy Off – Studio 30 writing prompt

It hadn’t always been this way. Up to now, she could talk her way out of just about any situation. She had a knack for it. A special talent. Doing so usually required only the implication of promiscuity on her part, never the actual delivery of that suggestion. At least, not until now.

Exit 38

Mindy was going to owe Petty big time for this one, though. Her brother had gone to plead for Petty’s help getting her out the current mess, and they didn’t know yet what it would cost them. her brother hated groveling, but there was no other way. They were broke, and she couldn’t stand another night in county lockup. So she’d called her brother on the brink of tears.

But no way would she show that weakness in here. It was bad enough that she had to suck up to that bitch guard to get a relatively clean towel and some toothpaste with nobody to get them for her otherwise. Old Rita Grother had worked at the jail long enough that she enjoyed a little prisoner pandering. She’d bring sweet Mindy all the Colgate and deodorant she asked for if it afforded her a smattering of attention from anyone but her relentless girlfriend at home. That woman couldn’t cook for shit, and Rita had long ago lost interest in anything else from her. Mindy wasn’t above shaking her ass a little for Rita, even if she brought Speedstick instead of Mindy’s usual “Powder Fresh Scent” by Secret. Strong enough for a man but made for a woman, indeed.

Smiling for Ol’ Grother would now seem like a walk in the park. Giving it up for Petty or one of his boys was a completely different story. Mindy realized the price for his help out would be higher this time. All it cost her before was a lap dance, even though that was a helluva price to pay for redemption on a trifling minor in possession charge. He enjoyed young lovelies like her paying homage to a nasty old criminal like him. That battered ticker of his surely went double-speed when the girls needed help. Made him feel important to have them hang on his every word, stupid as his words were.

She and other destitutes just like her had paid him back with their skin and any semblance of dignity, at the high stakes of his clammy hands touching their arms, legs, sometimes a bare breast … before he almost had another heart attack in the process. It made her flesh crawl to look at his pockmarked face and unbelievably bad dye job. He reeked of stale Old Spice and perversion.

Mindy would turn her head away when she lifted her shirt for him. Sometimes it was easy to pretend he wasn’t there gawking at her boobs, his tongue dripping a disgusting sluice of chew past the stained yellow nubs of his teeth. Petty slouched backward in the faux leather office chair, curled electrical tape stretched across its cracks that didn’t cover the full gaps. She concentrated on the stray itchy-looking stuffing to distract her attention. Gazing down on him from above, her stomach churned at the sight of liver spots across a thinning dome and ringlet curls on the back of his head almost dripping Grecian Formula upon a frayed collar.

He gripped the stiff brown nylon covering his crotch — or maybe it was double-knit — with his left hand and kept the right in his jacket pocket on his other gun. He’d taken that one out once or twice, a snub-nose .22, and rubbed it between his legs to prove who was in control. It was probably longer than his real package, most likely by a long shot.

In these moments of indiscretion, Mindy’s mind wandered to those same thin, hairy claws undressing his pathetic wife in the darkness of their boudoir, and Mindy felt an overwhelming sorrow for the overweight crone … even if she had been dumb enough to marry him. He probably demanded she take off her own clothes, much like his “gals” at the club, in preparation for his dirty work behind closed doors of their home. They deserved each other as far as Mindy was concerned. That woman had to deal with her own self-loathing.

Meanwhile in the backroom office of the Silver Slipper, he pressured young women like Mindy into penance for their own stupidity of asking him for bail money or enough to keep the lights on in their dingy apartments or house trailers. His power as the strip club owner, more so his cash in hand, put him in a place of omniscience. If it wasn’t bad enough she had to waitress at his club on the weekend, she now suffered the indignity of owing Petty another of these special favors. Though she didn’t have to actually dance on the stage, she did her own scantily clad number in flagranti in his private office as restitution.

exit 38One day she’d get it together and leave, even if it meant stranding her brother in the hell hole. She’d save back what little tips the regulars at the shitty bar offered her for slopping their Maker’s Mark and Cokes every weekend — the pitiful dollars not being used for their kids’ lunch money like they should. A pittance was all she had stuffed in her underwear drawer so far, but it’d have to be enough for gas to the city and security deposits at a new place. Regardless of how inevitably low the new standard of living was bound to be. She might even “borrow” Rita Grother’s car to go.

She felt bad for her brother, though. He’d have to fend for himself there among the pathetically poor and chronically incapacitated. He bounced at the Silver Slipper‘s door and threw out belligerents, which was about the best money he’d ever make in that town. Plus, he got to enjoy the floor show for free.

Mindy mulled over how bad it would be for him to face Petty when she left. Would her brother suffer for her sin of desertion since Petty had coughed up her bail money? Hell no — she’d earned it. Her brother wouldn’t be made to flash or dry hump him in her absence.

The thugs could still make it bad on him. That was a risk she was willing to take.   

The prompt redemption came from Studio 30 Plus, an online writing community. Studio30


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Hometown Hero

Inspiration flowed so quickly from the weekly writing prompt at Studio30+ that my contribution is here on the first day.  Join us at Image 

Lieutenant Taylor shook her head when she saw LeMaire coming through the sallyport door.  Again.  His lank oily hair hung low from the shaggy mop of his head, and dirt rivulets streaked down his face from an overexerted rain of sweat. His grungy jeans fell low beneath his hip bones, wrists manacled behind his back preventing him from pulling them up where their length would otherwise not trip him. He cast quite a different image than the one in Taylor’s memory from years before.

Taylor hated working night shift, but they were short a commanding officer tonight. It was often these “regulars” who came in on the weekends, the drunks and druggies who showed up in the wee hours of the morning. She also disliked seeing LeMaire among the group with him being in so much trouble over the last few years. Quite a shame.

Jumbo-Gold-Tone-Basketball-AwardLeMaire and Taylor had gone to school together, graduating just two years apart. He had actually been in her older sister’s class and was among the more talented athletes her age. What he lacked in brains, he more than made up for in trophies encased behind glass within the halls of their alma mater. It was a sad statement of fact that a few of the stellar jocks from their town had remained in opposition of the law since they graduated. LeMaire had a basketball scholarship that he blew with partying too much at college. He ended up back home, in typical manner, working for his dad at the local hardware store.

His being a local merchant, both Taylor girls had known Mr. LeMaire from growing up there. It was too bad his son disappointed their family with the embarrassment of his drug abuse returning him in shame. He got popped over and over for possession. It was a wonder he hadn’t ended up with State time for distribution, with that being how he ended his college days as the frat house supplier.

Anyone who lived there knew the story of how young LeMaire had gone from “Hometown Boy Done Good” to disgraced druggie hoodlum, tarnishing his family name. There forward his poor mother shunned her bridge club and drove further to the next town to shop at the Superco rather than face her neighbors at the local Grocery Mart. She quit going to service at Our Angel of Faith all together, the stares and whispers just too much for her.

Taylor had gone along with their mom and dad to her sister’s school functions, where LeMaire’s parents were always friendly and talkative. She felt sorry for them now in the sorrow their son wrought upon their good name and reputation within the community. Many of their classmates had chosen to stay close to home but had secured respectable jobs, gotten married and had kids of their own who were growing up at the same schools they had attended. She, like them, had made their parents proud, as would their progeny. Even though she knew better, especially in her position of authority, Taylor felt her own angry disgust rear itself in a judgmental stare at LeMaire.

Taylor locked eyes with him. She grudgingly wagged her head from side to side and shot him a look of disdain with her inquiry, “So what was it this time, LeMaire?” He turned in her direction and stayed his own gaze upon her. LeMaire gave her a wistful grin, full of an irony she couldn’t quite place, and turned away from her mocking without an answer.

The Lieutenant guffawed at his slight, shaking her head at a fellow officer and shrugging her shoulders in mocking contempt. She broke the uncomfortable silence by calling out after LeMaire, “You’re becoming quite the frequent flyer here.  Your miles might just get you a free night’s stay.”

The arresting officer handed the culprit off to a clerk at the booking desk, and sauntered over to where Taylor stood chuckling with another employee. The man asked her, “You know what they say about the one who laughs last, don’t you, Lieutenant?” Taylor had long since grown used to how everyone gave each other shit at the station but shook her head in agreement, and replied, “Sure, why?”  handcuffs

He told her, “LeMaire was the passenger in a DUI stop.” Taylor’s eyes grew wide, and she laughed a bit harder in surprised amusement. The arresting officer said, “He was arrested for trying to fight me when I put the driver in cuffs. He’s quite the Knight in Shining Armour.  I had to call for backup.” He exhaled his own wry laugh and gestured toward the bay doors.

A combative young woman there resisted against a female officer’s hold of her arms, the shackles around her ankles refraining only her gait but not the spasmodic thrust of her torso. Long hair covered the woman’s face, her trusses being thrown about veiling her identity. She bellowed, “Let me out of here, goddamnit! Do you know who I am?”

“Yes, Princess,” came the reply. “Just hold still a minute,” the officer commanded, helping move the tangles of hair out of the woman’s line of sight so she could see where she was walking. A final shake revealed the full visage, and the officer beside Taylor announced, “That’s right … your sister.”  


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