Wednesday, December 26, 2012


The prompt this week, coincident with yet another prediction of the end of the world, is to use some of the words we’ve been hearing a lot lately in our story.  They are:  End, apocalypse, fireballs, zombie, alignment, and famine.  The word count, fittingly enough, is 1,221.  Perfect.  I decided to have a bit of fun with this, and I hope you will enjoy.


Oh no.  Have you seen the news?  Those wackos are at it again.  I’m not sure how this started, but I think someone made a comment like ‘gee, isn’t that a sign of the end of the world?’, and before you know it, the press jumped on it.  It’s on the news that our imminent apocalypse is on its way.  Well, I’ve got a news bulletin of my own.  I’m not falling for it this time.

Thing is, it isn’t just that once all the planets in our solar system are in perfect alignment, giant fireballs are supposed to shoot out of the sky.  It’s that those damn zombies are going to take over the whole shebang and be the only ones to survive it all.  Why should they have all the luck?

I remember a couple of times not too long ago when the end was supposed to occur, but the z-bombs got bumped because that prediction was way different.  I heard some were supposed to be taken up to something called Rapture and the rest would be left behind.  But the key word with that one was that it involved people.  I don’t consider those nasty dead things ‘people’ in any sense of the word.  Have you ever been up close and personal with one of them?  Well, I have and let me tell you, it’s no picnic.

Zombies aren’t like the rest of us by any means.  They don’t keep their places in very good order and they’re not divided up into family-type units.  A whole bunch of them just find a big building on the outskirts of a town and they all stay in there like some kind of weird cult.  They kidnap folks and bring them back to what they call home and all feed off the same sets of brains.  Okay, so they do share.  There is that.  But that’s the only positive comment I can make about them.

They don’t clean up around their place and once the bodies start piling up, the whole neighborhood goes straight to Hell.  There’s a rumor going around that if one of them bites a non-Z, then the bite-ee becomes one too.  Come on, people, where’s your common sense.  It doesn’t work that way.  Only vamps can pull that off, and even they don’t have much of a taste for that--please excuse the pun, because it creates competition.  I don’t mean for attention either.  It creates rivals for food.  Sustenance is tough enough for all of us to get our hands on, so if you’re, say, a dominant predictor, why clone yourself?  You’re only going to end up going hungry some night.  Get my drift?

Anyhow, back to this end of the world thing.  The wife and I tried to prepare for it each and every time it’s been announced.  The warnings throughout history have always been pretty precise too.  I mean, no exact time of day or anything since the world does operate on a lot of different time zones, but a specific date has always been announced.  I used to wonder how the time zone thing would work, but the way I see it is right after midnight on the day in question, whenever it’s right after midnight on the day in question, stuff starts to fold up and disappear.  If nothing happens at the place with the earliest time, then it’s just not happening.  I’ve lost a lot of sleep over that in years past, and this time, I’m not falling into that same trap.

I built this place way back in Harper’s Woods when we first got hitched and nobody ever bothers us.  I doubt anyone even knows we’re back here.  We live off the land pretty much so we don’t have to deal with the townsfolk at all.  They’re pretty clannish anyway; you know the type.  Everybody knows everybody and everybody is in everybody’s business.  That brings nothing but trouble right to your front door, so we stay out of all that nonsense.  The wife’s got quite a nice garden out back and I hunt up our meat.  We’ve got plenty of clean streams for water and a big clearing close by where we can get some sun here and there.  It’s all we need, but now our little paradise is being threatened yet again.

Channel 9 said after the fireworks start, all the oceans are going to heat up and boil over onto the land.  Whatever was in there is going to be deep fried and  the crops will get all soggy and you know what that means:  a shortage of food.  Famine, they‘re calling it.  There won’t be anything for anyone to eat, and that’s where the dead things come in.  They’re not big fans of Waldorf salads and BBQ spareribs.  The only thing they eat is brains.  Certainly not each other’s since I don’t believe they have one brain between them, but the story is that they will wander planet Earth, eating up the brains of all the humans and they will be the only creatures to survive.

Now, that sounds creepy and all, but think about it.  What happens when they run out of humans?  Then what, huh?  Nobody seems too concerned to find out the answer to that one.  That’s why I’m not going to get overly anxious about this latest zero hour crap.  Whoever started this stupid rumor that cycles around every so many years really didn’t think it through.  I’m going to keep on keeping on and let the dice roll how they roll.  If those mindless freaks try to cross my threshold, I’ve got my welcome mat all ready for them.

A bullet to the brain will stop them cold and I’ve got enough ammo stashed to take out a whole platoon of them.  Did you know they’re terrified of fire?  Well, I do and I’ve got plenty of gasoline and matches stashed as well.  I have to tell you though, I’m not really too worried this time around.  Like I said, so many warnings, so many false alarms.  ’The boy who cried wolf’ and all.  Besides, I have to keep my cool and not scare the missus.  I’m the man of the house and her protector.  It wouldn’t do for me to start crouching in a corner and whining like a two year old, now, would it?

After all, I’ve faced many an adversity and I’ve made it this far.  The rest of my kind are still running loose in the world‘s forests, barely surviving, while I have a roof over my head and a hot meal on the table every night of the week.  Being a werewolf isn’t always a stroll down the lane, but when it comes right down to it, my claws and fangs have come in mighty handy at times.  I wouldn’t touch one of those decomposing scumbags with a stick, but the humans’ weapons should work just fine.

Well, looks like supper’s on.  Tonight’s veggie night.  The little woman says once a week we should go vegan.  After dinner, I’m going to doze off in front of the TV like always.  I’m not worried about an invasion of the walking dead any time soon.  Just as long as none of those clowns are carrying any silver…

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


The prompt this week was to write a story about a character that hates Christmas carols.  Bonus points if we include a character named ‘Carol’.  That made it extra fun!  Please enjoy my story about a fella who just can’t seem to get away from all that holiday cheer.


I’ve never minded being a shoe salesman.  I can’t stand people, but I don’t have to deal with them.  Not really.  I mean, it isn’t like a bartender or a hairdresser that the customers share their life story with.  Nobody tells their shoe salesman their deepest secrets.  I never even look at their faces because then I might have to make some kind of conversation.  I ask them what they’re looking for and most of the time, they shove a shoe from one of the displays in my face and quote a size.  Dealing only with their feet can be a challenge though at times, since there are some who haven’t changed their socks in maybe a month or two, but they’re pretty rare in the store I work at.  Mine is a high-end shop and the cheapest pair runs around $125, so we don’t get too many regular working class slobs coming to browse.

George Farland, the owner, never tries to engage any of his employees in conversation.  He posts the schedule in the break room, and drops our checks through the slot in our lockers.  When I got hired, after I filled out the application, he just nodded here and shook his head there and handed me a schedule with my name written in.  I couldn’t ask for a better boss.  There’s only one thing wrong with the guy and that’s his attitude toward Christmas.

In the 11 years I’ve worked here, we’ve never been open on Christmas Day.  On Christmas Eve though, we open at 6am and stay open until midnight, and for the entire day, Farland pipes those damn carols at full blast throughout the entire store.  Momentary relief from that horrific noise can’t even be found in the men’s room, where the music seems to bounce off every wall.  I even took up smoking so I could step out back every now and then, but my efforts to perfect that nasty habit went unrewarded when I discovered that speakers had been installed on the outside wall of the back entrance.  And I had bought a damn carton too…

Sitting in my flat wearing my earplugs on Christmas Day was the only time I was truly free from all those cutsie tunes all about bells jingling, snow flaking, and all that other crap.  Even going to the corner for a paper was an exercise in futility.  As hard as I tried to run the maze of Santas trying to rob me of my last dollar, there was always one who would step right out in front of me and block my way until I put something in their bucket.  Two years ago, I dropped in a pack of gum.  Last year, I did the same, only I had chewed it all first.  I wonder if they’ll ask me for something this year.

But now, even that last haven of peace and quiet has been stolen from me.  When I came in this morning, there was a note on my locker to come to the office.  When I walked in, there was a woman behind Farland’s desk, and not a hot one either.  She looked like she’d been run over by a semi more times than one could count.  I soon found out that I’d died and gone to hell.  Apparently, Farland had croaked, she was his kid, and was taking over the store.  We were now staying open 365 days a year, and on Christmas Day, we’d have some kids’ chorus in the store singing all day long.  And, if that wasn’t enough of a kick in the gut, she told me I didn’t have to call her Ms. Farland.  I could call her by her first name:  Carol.

Having to spend Christmas Day away from my earplugs was bad enough, but having to listen to a live bunch of runny nosed kiddies tra-la-laing all damn day was the last straw.  I swear, if I don’t get to spend even one day away from ho-ho’s and fa-la’s, I am going to go stark-raving cra…

Wait.  That’s the answer.  What I need to do is go stark-raving crazy before the store closes on Christmas Eve.  I’ll need to check, but I think the max they can lock somebody up against their will is 24 hours.  I’ll just make sure I sane up really fast on the morning of the 26th.  That way, the world will be done with all that damn music, at least for another year.  Right now, I’ve got to come up with a way to make my co-workers and especially, my new boss, believe I’ve got a lot of screws loose, and a nice quiet cell with padded walls and floors is just what I need.

It was much easier than I anticipated.  Three hours before close on Christmas Eve, I engaged in a bit of jumping up and down and a few twirls, talking non-stop to myself, and laughing out loud for no reason.  I soon had my new boss convinced I was so stressed out that maybe a couple days rest at Moorehaven, our local loony bin, was in order.  The orderlies strapped me to a gurney and we headed out.  You could hear a pin drop in my room--it was that quiet.  I slept like I’d never had before, and I looked forward to my Christmas breakfast of mashed potatoes with a tranquilizer mashed up in them.

I was waiting to be fed when Raul, one of my nurses, came in smiling from ear to ear, and got me all wrapped up in a straightjacket and sat me in a wheelchair.

“Mr. Tim, I have a big surprise for you.  On Christmas Day, we don’t keep our patients in their rooms.  They spend Christmas in the Day Room and have all their meals there.  And the best part?  St. Peter’s Choir will be in there singing carols all day long.  Isn’t that wonderful?  Mr. Tim?  Are you crying?”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


The prompt this week was to take a peek into the life of someone with a form of OCD and show how it plays into an event in their life.  The word limit was 1,500 words.

Several possible storylines ran through my mind until I remembered one I had done quite some time ago for F3.  The prompt on that occasion was a starter sentence, but my story focused on an individual whose life was quite regimented, and to say OCD was a big part of his life would be putting it mildly.  Since I feel this one slots in here quite nicely, I decided to resurrect my tale of compulsion and obsession.


I stepped out into the frigid cold.  Instinctively, I cowered into the depths of my heavy coat, shoving bare hands deep into its pockets.  I couldn’t remember if I wiped down with my sleeve whatever I had touched, but there couldn’t have been that much.  After all, I was only inside a minute or two.  I was sure no one saw me, especially with this near-blizzard snowfall going on.  Most people are safe and warm at home on this dreadful night.  I would have been too if the evil man hadn’t taken it from me.  It was supposed to be mine.  I needed it to be mine.  But, he wouldn’t give it up, so I took it.  And now, it is.  Mine.  It wasn’t my fault, but I’m sure you know that.  If he had just given to me what was rightfully mine, I wouldn’t have had to follow him home to confront him about it.  He kept trying to push me back outside and saying he was going to call the police and have me arrested.  Arrested?  Me?  For what?  Taking what was meant to be mine to begin with?  No.  I tried to reason with him, but he wouldn’t listen.  He pushed me really hard against the wall by the door, and so I hit him in the head with the ashtray on the small table by his front door three--one, two, three times.  It was all his fault though, but I’m sure you know that.  When I got back to my flat, I took one last peek over my shoulder, but I hadn’t been followed.  I took it from my pants pocket, where it had been brought safely to its new home, and I placed it with the other two.  Then, they were three--one, two, three.

I should be calmer now, but I am not certain how to work my way through the events of today.  All should have been complete this evening, but the evil man almost ruined everything.  When I went out to the grocery this morning and I passed the novelty shop on the corner, I saw them and knew they had to be mine.  One was red, one was blue and one was green.  I went into the shop and I asked the man behind the counter how much he wanted for them all.  There were three--one, two, three of them, you see.  He told me they were the last of their kind and once he sold them, there would be no more.  He wanted $10 for the whole set because he told me that they play a little tune when you use them.  I told him I didn’t care about any little tune.  I just needed to have them all, but I didn’t have all of the $10.  I asked the man if I could get two of them and come back this evening for the other and he said that would be fine.  I was so excited.  I took the red one and the blue one home and put them on a stand I made for them and it was so sad because there was one empty place.  But not for long.

It had already begun to snow, but I needed to get the rest of the $10, so I locked up my flat with all three--one, two, three locks because you just never knew about people.  My landlady is the only one I ever allow in my flat to see all my sets, and she promised she wouldn’t tell anyone that I had them.  They are all such beautiful and perfect things.  Three--one, two, three in all of them.  I have china dolls.  I have pens and pencils.  I have mugs.  I have drinking glasses (although I would never drink out of them), and so many others.  All the same--all the last of their kind--all sets of three--one, two, three--all mine.  And one empty space.  So sad.

By the time I got outside, it was already hard to see with the snow coming down so heavily.  Even though it was so cold, I decided to walk to the train station to get the rest of the money that I needed.  The train station was a long walk for me, but I was certain I would be able to get the rest of the money I needed there, especially today.  When the weather was bad, a lot more people were in the train station and they were all in such a hurry and not calm and it was easy for me to get some money.  Sometimes people would just give me money if I asked them for it after I explained that I needed it to complete a set of three--one, two, three.  Other times though, I had to take it from them because I needed it to complete my sets and they didn‘t understand.  When I got there this time, there were so many people, and they were all in such a hurry and running around.  No one was being very nice and I didn’t want to take the time to explain why I needed it, so I decided to just take it.  There was a woman on Track 9 standing by herself talking on one of those phones you can take out of your house and still talk.  I walked up behind her, pulled her purse off her arm and stabbed her three--one, two, three times with the nice sharp knife I take with me when I go out because you just never know about people.  When you do it from behind them, you don’t get any of their blood on your clothes, which is a good thing because then you’d have to take your coat off before you could go anywhere else, and I couldn’t do that.  I only had three--one, two, three coats on and there was no way I could have taken one off, but you already knew that.  I pushed her down onto the tracks and no one even noticed.  People never do when they are in such a hurry and running around.

I took her wallet and dropped her purse onto the tracks and went outside and saw that there would be enough money for me to get it.  I practically ran to the novelty shop and I was ready to get it so I could complete my set, but the evil man was in there and he already had it in his hand.  I told him he couldn’t have it and that it belonged to me and that the man behind the counter said he would keep it just for me.  But they both laughed at me, and the man behind the counter said whoever had the money could buy whatever he had.  I told him it wasn’t right.  I told him I already had the other two and now I had the money to get number three--one, two, three and he couldn’t let someone else take it.  The evil man told me he had already paid for it and I couldn’t have it and put it in his pocket and walked out of the store.  The man behind the counter came around to where I was standing and told me to get out of his store and not to bother him anymore.  I stabbed him three--one, two, three times with the same knife I stabbed the woman at the train station, but it wasn’t my fault, but you already know that.  I got some blood on me that time, but it was snowing so hard, you couldn’t really see it.  Besides, I had to go after the evil man.  He still had it.

I saw him walking and that was good because I always walk.  He turned down the next street and went up to one of the houses and I was right behind him.  After he unlocked the door and started to go inside, I went in right after him.  You already know what happened after I went in.  It wasn’t my fault, but you already knew that.

The longer the green one is where it belongs with the other two, the calmer I am beginning to feel.  All is never right with the world until there are three--one, two, three.  I am truly enjoying looking at my new yo-yos.  I wonder if someone else will be taking over the novelty shop soon.  I didn’t have to wait too long after the last time this happened…

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


The prompt this week was to write a story about a character(s) life-changing event and include the following words:  December, blizzard, secret, clown, and doughnut.  The genre was open and the word limit was 1,500 words.  Please enjoy.


“I’ve got a secret, Mr. Tommy.”

Mikey resumed sweeping the floor behind the bar.  Tom Ellison had inherited the bar and restaurant five years ago when the previous owner was diagnosed with a terminal illness he’d never heard of.  No telethon for some, he thought, and no celebrity donating millions to find a cure.  Jack Gennaro had been a great boss and gave Tom his start.  He had taught Tom everything he knew about running a business and how to make every drink known to man.  When Jack died, the Mrs. told Tom the bar belonged to him, lock, stock and barrel, and she was off to Wisconsin to stay with her sister.  Tom made up his mind to return the favor, in a cosmic kind of way, by offering the opportunity for a better life to someone in need.  Mikey was his life’s good deed.

The kid showed up at the back door of Tom’s Place looking for a cheeseburger and a job.  Mikey produced a photo ID which put his age at 22 and showed an address four hundred plus miles west.  Mikey told him he was looking for somewhere to settle down.  He told Tom he wanted to learn to drive and buy a car and live like a real person.  Tom never pushed the kid for more information about his past; something told him to trust his gut and give this odd young man a chance.  His birth may have been 22 years ago, but Tom estimated Mikey’s mental capabilities and functional level at closer to 12 years of age.  But he was anxious to earn his own way and eager to learn, so Tom took him in.

Tom arranged for Mikey to rent a room at Mrs. Hastings’ Boarding House for $40.00 a week, for which he received a clean and safe place to sleep and two hot meals a day.  Tom paid him enough to make his rent plus a bit more so the boy could save for whatever future awaited him.  For the time being, his career was sweeping the inside of the bar and restaurant, making sure the parking lot was free of cigarette butts, and running whatever errands Tom felt he could handle.  In what seemed like no time at all, Mikey saved enough to purchase a car, and to Tom’s pleasant surprise, he had signed up for a drivers’ education course and passed with flying colors.  When Mikey took him for a drive through town as his first passenger, Tom felt like a proud father watching his son on his first bicycle ride without the training wheels.  Mikey was on his way to being able to live like a ‘real’ person.  That’s when things began to get peculiar.

Mikey began to disappear for two or three days at a time.  His rent was always paid, but he would pack a light bag, fill his gas tank and take off.  He always let Tom know when he would be back, but never provided any details about where he’d been.  Tom knew Mikey may present the appearance of a mature adult; however, mentally and emotionally, he was still a child, so he was concerned Mikey might get himself into trouble.  He tried to get Mikey to tell him where he went on his excursions and who he might be hooking up with, but Mikey would never tell him.  Now this business about him having a secret?  Something wasn’t right and Tom was determined to find out what was going on with this young man who had, over the years, become his only family.

“Mikey, you were gone longer this time than any other, and I’m worried.  For one thing, you are a great driver, but it’s December, and one day we get a few flakes, and the next, we could have a blizzard.  The roads are dangerous out there.  The world is dangerous out there too, and you never tell me where you’re going or staying.  Tell me this secret of yours.  If all is well, I’ll be happy for you, but if not, I’ll do what I can to help.  You know you can trust me.”

Mikey leaned his broom against the back door frame and went up front to sit at the bar.  Tom hoped this was a sign he was ready to talk.

“I‘ll tell you my secret, Mr. Tommy.  I wouldn‘t have a secret from you.  My secret is about my mommy.  I lost her long ago.”

Tom didn’t want to upset Mikey, but it was hard not to visibly react with sympathy, and he gave Mikey a quick hug.  He wondered how old he had been when his mother passed away.

“It‘s okay, Mr. Tommy.  One morning when I got up, mommy wasn‘t there.  That‘s how I lost her.”

With that explanation, Tom wanted to put his fist through the wall.  What kind of so-called mother abandons her child?

“We moved around a lot and she brought home lots of daddies for me.  They all were gone by morning, and mommy said it was because I was bad, so I tried to be the goodest I could be.  When I was eleven, a carnival came, and mommy said if I was the best I could be, maybe the clown man would come home with us and be my forever daddy.  I didn’t like the clown man very much because he smelled funny and stuck a needle in between his toes sometimes, but mommy said some big people did that to feel better.  Funny, huh?  If I wanted to feel better, I ate a doughnut--cream-filled with sprinkles on top.”

Tom had never met Mikey’s mother, and she was fortunate for that.  He couldn’t remember ever being that angry.

“Anyhow, the clown man stayed with us for some days, then one morning, they were both gone.  She left a note wishing me luck.  I never knew where she and the clown man went, but I made up my mind I was going to find her so I could ask her why they didn’t take me with them.  I made her and the clown man eggs and toast every morning and rinsed out the needle he stuck between his toes.  I don’t know how I could have been any gooder.

“See, now that I have a nice bed and I can drive my own car and live like a real person, I go out and drive around some days and look for her.  Each time, I go farer and farer, but nobody knew who she was.  But, three days ago, I did it, Mr. Tommy.  I found her.  It was by accident even.  She was one of those ladies who gives you coffee at a diner a long way from here.  She said the clown man ran away with some other mommy, but it was okay.  She found a man who sells vacuum cleaners that made her laugh and so she was staying with him.  I told her we needed to have a long talk.  Some guy in a movie I saw had a long talk with his mother and then everything was okay.”

Tom wished he could jump up and down and cheer for Mikey, but he didn‘t want to look like he was ready to be fitted for a straight-jacket, so he simply nodded and smiled.  All his other accomplishments were grand indeed, but this?  Searching for, and finding, his mother who had abandoned him, and having the courage to seek answers to the traumatic events of his childhood with the hope of attaining some type of resolution were signs of a maturity in Mikey that Tom had never believed was there.  He swelled with pride and served Mikey his first bottle of beer.

“Mikey,” he said, “I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I am with the man you are.  Confronting your mother was probably the biggest thing you’ve ever done in your life, but it will help you move forward and be able to live your life free of that burden.”

He raised his bottle and tapped Mikey’s with it.

“Here’s to you, Mikey.  Why don’t you take tomorrow off and have some fun.”

Mikey was happy he told Mr. Tommy about finding mommy.  He had never had a beer before and he was really liking it.  Maybe he’d go up to the Multiplex tomorrow afternoon and see one of the scary movies they had playing.  He liked scary movies.  First though,  he’d have to head over to the landfill off I-95 to use their compactor.  Then on to Mr. Phil’s Suds and Rinse to give his car a good scrubbing.  He hoped those scented soaps would get rid of the smell in his trunk.  By the fourth day, mommy‘s body will probably smell it up even worse.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Prompt:  Write a story about a character who has seven days.  What your character needs to do within that period of time is up to you.  Start something?  Finish something?  Obtain something?  Get rid of something?  Remember though, that good, bad, or indifferent, everything has consequences.  Make sure you include what will happen if they try to stretch those seven days to eight.
Genre:  Any would be a nice fit here.
Word Limit:  1,000 words.

I thought I'd share seven days in the life of a fella named Joey and his best friend Harv.  Please enjoy.


Day 1

“Harv, you have to help me.  I’m in deep trouble.”

My best friend, Harvey Hanover, had given me a tip on a pony named California Cutie, who was a sure thing to win today’s first race, but did I listen to my buddy’s advice?  Oh no.  I decided to get clever and take the word of a weird little bald guy who hangs out down at the track.  He seemed so sure Fun Fest would come in first.  Harv’s tip paid on the win, and Fun Fest did cross the finish line.  Unfortunately, it was an hour and a half after all the others came across.

“Joey, what’s wrong?  You didn’t fall for one of those hustlers down at the track again, did you?”

Harv knows me like the back of his hand.  If only it were that simple…

“Harv, I couldn’t get my stake from Mothball Mo.  He got locked up in County for 30 days.  Something about stealing a doughnut and then jaywalking with it.  I needed the cash right away, so I got it from Seven Day Sammy.  Thing is, I won‘t be able to pay back the five grand I owe him within the week.”

“In that case, I only have one question.”  Harvey’s always got my best interest at heart.  “Which suit would you prefer I wear at your funeral--the dark blue or the black?”

I need to come up with a plan.  I know.  I’ll hit that market that just opened on the South Side.  It’s always packed and the owner’s 100 years old.  Easy peasy.

Day 2

“Joey, what happened to you?”

Who knew the old man kept a baseball bat behind the counter and that when he was younger, he had been a first round pick of a major league baseball team.  Fielding talent may fade with time, but apparently, the power behind the swing of your bat doesn’t.

“I’ve got it under control, Harv.  Doc says the arm cast will be off in a few weeks and I should be able to walk without the limp after a couple of days.  I now know how to get the cash.  I’ll do a home invade uptown and hock the take.”

Day 3

“Joey, why is your neck all bandaged up?”

Who knew rich folks kept dogs as big as grizzlies as pets?  And, isn’t it illegal not to have one of those ‘Beware of Killer Dog’ signs on your door?

“Harv, I hate to do this, but I’m going to have to take down one of those old biddies on her way home from Bingo night.  They win big bucks there and one of their handbags ought to get me all I need.”

Day 4

“Joey, How’d you lose your top front teeth, and why is your face swollen up like a cantaloupe?”

When the old lady knocked me to the ground with her purse, I asked her if she was carrying rocks.  She confirmed there were indeed rocks in there and asked me if I’d like another shot.  I respectfully declined.

“Harv, I’m going to have to go big-time.  I’m taking down the armored truck that delivers the mattress factory’s payroll.  It isn’t like there’s real guards.  It’s only Bobby from the neighborhood driving, and he pulls into the alley for a smoke with his window open before he hands over the cash.  I won’t even need any bullets in the gun.”

Day 5

“Joey, why are you on crutches and what’s that lump on the bottom of your left leg?”

I was embarrassed to confess that the lump was my foot.  I never had Bobby figured to act like some super-hero when he had a gun stuck right up in his face.  Before I could get ‘hand over the money bags’ out of my mouth, he had started the van and backed up right over my entire foot with the driver’s side’s 26” tire.

“Harv, No more Mr. Nice Guy.  I’m heading on over to Northwest Federal and taking what I need right out of their safe.  I’ll take them all by surprise.  Who’s going to suspect a fella on crutches?”

Day 6

“Harv, you’re never going to believe my luck.  I went to the bank and they were pretty busy, so I got in line.  There was a young lady ahead of me that withdrew five big bills, all in cash.  Said her daddy was treating her to a shopping spree because she was getting good grades over at the community college.  I followed her out, pulled her between the bank and the bakery and grabbed the cash.  She was crying and all, but I didn’t hurt her any.  I just told her to sit down on the sidewalk and count to 30 so I would have time to get down to the bus stop to catch the number 18 downtown.  You know, it’s pretty slow going still on these crutches.  But, now I’ve got Seven Day Sammy’s money and tomorrow morning, I’ll be paying him off.”

“Joey, that’s terrific.  Listen, text me after you’re done with Sammy and we’ll go grab a bite at Dantino‘s.  My treat.”

Harv knows that’s my favorite place to celebrate when stuff goes right.  I’m going to order double desserts.

Day 7

“…and this twenty makes five thousand.  Sammy, I want you to know how much I appreciate your giving me that loan.  I’m probably done with the horses for awhile though since my luck doesn’t seem to be too good at the track.”

Sammy was getting ready to show me out when his daughter peeked in the den.  She ran to her daddy, pointed at me, and told him all about how I stole her shopping spree.  Funny how some kids don’t look a thing like their parents.

I pulled out my cell and texted Harv.  I told him to go with the dark blue since it had always been my favorite.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The prompt was to write a story that takes place on Thanksgiving Day, but EXCLUDE the following words:  Turkey, stuffing, football, parade, family.  The genre was open and the word limit was 1,000 words.

I thought it would be simple to leave out those particular words, but after doing a search, I found that I had used several of them more than once.  So, a few drafts later, I offer you my holiday tale.


I can’t believe they all showed up.  I sent each one the same letter notifying them of my release from prison, and extending an invitation to join me at my home on Thanksgiving Day for a meal and some conversation.  Considering our history, I never would have believed it was possible for us all to be in the same room together, much less sitting around the same table.

There was one time, however, when we were all together:  the courtroom during my trial.  The District Attorney spoke of the brutality of my crimes, and the fact that I had never shown any remorse.  What did he expect?  Was I supposed to weep openly while I was in the holding cell, or wait until the trial and burst into tears every time I was escorted in or out?  It’s true that I’ve never said I was sorry to any of the involved parties, but my attorney advised me to keep my mouth shut, so that’s what I did.  Then, they complain when I don’t approach my victims’ relatives to give them a hug.  Makes no sense.

I killed four people that week, and their relatives had some to court each and every day to listen as each nail was driven into my coffin.  They sat and listened while the Medical Examiner testified as to the intense suffering each victim endured prior to their death.  I was never sure how he expected to get people to believe that since I’d shot them all.  For your information, I didn’t shoot them in the eye, then the hand, and that type of thing to drag it out.  I shot them all in the head straightaway and they dropped like a block of cement.  Not one of them thrashed around or struggled.  They were there; they went down.  What intense suffering was he talking about?  I will tell you though, when he was done, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.  He was good.  Really.

The prosecution had sought the death penalty since all of them had been killed for something as petty as a few dollars.  First, I inflict intense suffering, then killing them had become a petty affair.  The jury looked confused, and I was glad my attorney was one of the best at refocusing juries and directing a bit of sympathy toward the convicted.  He let me testify, even though most say that’s a big mistake, but I had been prepared very well.  I want you to know that I didn’t lie about anything while I was up there.

I told the court I had lost my job, and how my wife had taken every cent of our small savings and sold all our stuff to a junk dealer to get enough cash so she could hop a train with her boyfriend.  On top of all that, she had been holding back the rent money to give herself a bigger stake, so after she left, I ended up getting evicted.  There I was, on the street, with nothing but the clothes on my back.  Was I bitter?  You’d better believe it.  Was I desperate?  Incredibly.  I had no one I could turn to for help and nowhere to sleep.  There was no light at the end of my tunnel.  The only way that I could see to get myself back on my feet was to jack up a few people who looked like they wouldn’t miss a few bucks, get my hands on some cash, get a roof over my head, find any kind of job for the time being, and begin again.  It seemed reasonable at the time.

Those I chose were all well-dressed, clean and sober.  Ideal vics, right?  Who knew the four people in this world that I pick to rob were willing to die for the couple of bucks in their wallets?  Tom Gerrod had $12 in his pocket.  Marcy McLaughlin had $19.84 in her handbag, Gillian Pensomme had $9.15 in her change purse and William Envoroy, the daring wild man of the bunch had a whole $25 stuck in his shoe.  Envoroy had walked from his apartment to the corner news stand to pick up a paper and some gum.  Who puts their money in their shoe to get a paper and some gum?  He fought like Hell for it too, kicking me and all.  The fella who owned the stand ran away to get a cop while this idiot was yelling and fighting a guy with a gun in his face for a lousy $25.  What’s wrong with people these days?

The verdict was guilty, but with the tear-jerking impact statements from the Widow Gerrod, the Widower McLaughlin, Gillian P.’s older brother and Envoroy’s elderly mom, begging the court to show me mercy, I got sentenced to 15 to life.  With time served and overcrowding, I was out in six and a half, ready to dig in and try to make another go at life.  So, here I am, with the four of them, great food on the table, and the note cards for my speech.

Envoroy’s mom inflicted the first wound.  Hard to believe a lady in her 90s could drive a knife in all the way to the handle.  Gillian’s brother threw the bowl of hot gravy in my face and hit me over the head with the poker from my own fireplace.  It looked like the Widow and Widower were working as a tag team, the way they alternated punching and twisting.  I tried to explain I had invited them all to give thanks for being given a second chance and to offer them my apology for taking the lives of their loved ones, but the world got darker with each wound until it all went black.

“Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends,” Mrs. Tom Gerrod said.  “Now, that real justice has been done, let’s eat.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


The prompt this time was aimed at celebrating this month of words, and to add a select few to our title, our story, or both.  The words are:  Gunshot, train, mime, balcony, monkey, rain.  Quite the delightfully bizarre grouping.  The genre’s open, and the count is not to exceed 900 words.  Hope you enjoy my crazy little tale about a guy just trying to do his job.


It’s quite a mess outside this evening.  There was rain and thunder a few nights ago when this all began too.  My employer, let’s call him Mr. D, asked me to retrieve an item that a former employee, let’s call him Mr. Andy Body-Will-Never-Be-Recovered, had stolen from him.  Mr. D funneled his earnings through several small legitimate businesses and then kept the laundered cash in a small out-of-town bank’s lockbox.  It had been Andy’s job to deposit the cash on a weekly basis and return the key, along with a statement of the box’s balance.

This week, however, Andy decided he’d keep the deposit and the contents of the box for himself.  He wouldn’t go straight to the bank because Mr. D would have someone waiting for him.  No.  He’d have a partner, someone none of us knew, to slip the key to who would obtain the money.  The only way I’d be able to get the key back would be find him and take it from him directly or from whoever he passed it to.  Mr. D. got word Andy had purchased a ticket on a train to Frisco and wouldn’t let any of the porters take his bag.  The stolen deposit and key had to be in there.  All I had to do was go and get it.  Oh, and also make sure his body would never be recovered.  There’s that too.

I made it to the station in plenty of time and saw Andy with a small group of people waiting to board.  They were all laughing, and I peeked through the crowd to see what was happening, and that’s when I saw the mime.  And his monkey.  What kind of mime uses a monkey in his routine and how would he train it?  The monkey moved through the crowd touching and hugging while the mime did that climbing-out-of-a-box thing.  Creepy.  Both of them.  I went to my seat in the last car.

The depot was jam-packed when we arrived and I almost lost sight of Andy, but he was again with a group looking into a corner by one of the concession stands.  Another mime with a monkey?  This one was all touchy-feely too.  I noticed Andy made his way to the Men’s with his satchel.  Timing is everything.

Evidently no one else had the urge so it was only Andy and me.  He got pale when he recognized me and offered me a third of what he said was probably in the millions by now.  No one heard the gunshot I delivered between his eyes.  That silencer I picked up for a song on E-Bay worked like a charm.  Along with a couple of shirts and some cheap cologne, his bag only held a couple packs of hundreds.  The key was in a zippered pants pocket.  I figured his partner would be watching for the bag, so I put the cash in my money belt and slid the key in my suit jacket’s inside pocket.  Safe and sound.

I slept most of the way back, dreaming of how happy Mr. D was going to be when I showed up with his money and the key to all that cash.  I’m sure he had plenty more in accounts out of the country, but you never know when you’ll need to get your hands on quick cash for emergencies.  Unexpected stuff comes up, you know?

Why is it the return part of a trip never seems as long as the going part?  Probably because the going part contains uncertainty and the return part contains success.  I’m not going to let anything spoil my mood today, not even that damn mime with the monkey by one of the exits.  Kids were throwing pennies and getting hugs.  Kind of cute in a gross sort of way.  I suppose everybody’s got to make a living, so I threw down a quarter.  That monkey ran right up my leg and gave me the biggest squeeze.  The mime smiled.  That wasn’t cute in any sort of way.  I grabbed a cab and headed for Mr. D’s.  Tapped my inside pocket where I’d stashed the key.  Uh-oh…

The Boss Man was sitting behind his desk waiting for me; well, for the key, to be exact.  I told him about everything that had happened.  I knew he’d understand.  After all, sometimes, the dog really does chew up your homework, and like today, the monkey of the last mime really did pick my pocket.  Who knew Andy had so many brothers waiting at each stop for him to try to slip their trained ape the key?  Mr. D didn’t laugh right away.  It takes some folks a bit longer to see the humor in a situation.  Give or take a half hour and the big guy smiled and told me he had a couple of surprises for me:  Some new footwear and a brief vacation.  How cool is he?

So, here I sit, waiting to be fitted for my new shoes.  I’m told they’re going to be made from quick-dry cement though.  Mr. D also promised to have one of his crew assist me with taking a header off the balcony at his cliff-side beach house.  He’s got a beautiful view; the ocean’s just a dot from way up there.  I wonder if I should mention that I don’t know how to swim…

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I took a bit of a break from my NaNo project for this week's prompt.  I have to play a little catch-up with my novel since I found that I had contradicted myself in a couple of spots.  The details are critical to the plot, so I violated the DO NOT EDIT thing and went back to repair the damage.  Doing so worked very well since that opened the door to the creation of a whole new character that will slide in nicely to further flesh out my main character.  So, please enjoy my story titled Isolation, and I'm heading back to NaNo land!

Now that Halloween is over and all things supernatural have returned to their lairs until it’s time to reemerge and terrorize us again next year, let’s use this week to remember a date in October that brought us an individual who affected, and certainly altered, the course of music, and many other areas of all our lives.  This week’s prompt comes to us from one of our regular contributors, Michael Webb.

*   *   *   *   *

October 9th would have been John Lennon’s 72nd birthday, if his life were not cut short by his 1980 murder.  The former Beatle was not without flaws, but his legacy lives on in art, music, fashion, and politics.
Prompt:  Write a story using one of the following Lennon songs as a title:
  • “Working Class Hero”
  • “Isolation”
  • “Beautiful Boy”
  • “I’m Losing You”
  • “Cold Turkey”
  • “Jealous Guy”
  • “(Just Like) Starting Over”

The genre was open and the word limit was 999 words or less.

Just a reminder that sometimes it's best to let a sleeping dog lie...


“Jack?  You know I’m new to this setting, but let me ask you something.  What’s the story on 12D?  Why the double locks and extender mechanism for sliding in the food trays?”  Tony had worked in maximum security prisons where contact with serial killers was less restrictive.  The residents here were patients, not criminals, and they weren’t evil, they were mentally ill.

“That’s for the safety of all the staff, son.  That one killed the patient he shared a room with when he first arrived so he could have the room to himself, and then after he was put into isolation, he permanently disfigured one of the orderlies who went into his room to retrieve his breakfast tray.  The patient grabbed both of the orderly’s hands and practically twisted his arms off.  That’s why we have those metal rods grasp the meal trays while we slide them through the slot they subsequently added to his door.  None of the staff are permitted anywhere near that room.  Not that they‘d initiate any contact with that one anyway.”  Jack was surprised the Ward Supervisor didn’t clue the kid in on their resident psychotic.

“But, how are his linens changed and the room cleaned?  And, where does he go for his sessions with the psychologists?”  The new orderly had seen lifers treated with more kindness.

“Tony, his evening meds put him out and then six of us go in there to take care of all that, and as quickly as we can, mind you.  You don’t want to be in there when his eyes open.  As far as therapy goes, they gave up on that long ago.  He listens to no one and talks to no one except himself.”

Tony couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  How did this institution get their stellar reputation treating the weak and helpless worse than strays were treated at the pound.  “What did he do to end up like this?”

Jack wished the Supervisors would do some kind of orientation with the new guys.  Then, he wouldn’t have to keep explaining this nightmare.

“He murdered his entire family.  Beat Mom and Dad to death in their bed, then tied his brother to a chair in the basement and chatted with him while he alternated between beating him and choking him.  It went on all night, and by morning, his brother was dead too.  He called the police and confessed.  The State’s shrink recommended they send him here instead of Death Row, and personally, I think that was a mistake because he re-enacts those murders in his room every Friday night.”

Tony wondered how Jack, a man with no compassion for his fellow human beings, had obtained a position here as caretaker to the emotionally infirm.

“You’ll hear odd noises, and if you look through the partition, he’ll be beating his parents, tying his brother up, you’ll hear the conversation, then he’ll do his brother in.  It’s like watching a fucked up game of charades.  By morning, he’s acting out his surrender to the cops.  Once he gets his breakfast, it’s all back to normal; well, normal for him, anyway.  He’ll talk to Mom, chat with Pop, play chess with his brother, then Friday, he kills them all.  Again.  But, don’t worry about it because you won’t have any contact with him so handle the patients you’re assigned to and you’ll be alright.  I’m going to take my break now, so the Ward’s all yours, kid.”

Tony waited until Jack had locked the Ward door on his way to the break room.  He walked down the hallway to 12D and looked inside.  The patient was finishing his breakfast and was engaged in what appeared to be a volatile argument with the empty cot in the corner.  He was gesturing wildly in between bites of scrambled eggs and sips of coffee.  As Tony keyed all the locks, opened the door and entered the room, the patient put the fork down and pushed his chair away from the desk containing his half-eaten meal tray.

Tony knew that all people responded to tenderness, even the chronically psychotic.  Medication shifted their emotions to limbo and completely disconnected them from the real world, where they desperately needed to remain.  As he approached the man in 12D, he held out both his hands.  Surely, the man would response to a hug; physical contact was obviously missing from his tortured existence.

12D rose from the chair and turned to face the intruder.  On his first morning here, they brought in a stranger to share his room.  He thought he had made his position on the subject of human interfacing abundantly clear when he castrated the interloper with his butter knife.  To his delight, the Administrators had arranged for him to be placed in their isolation wing so he could be alone and focus on communication with his family and, on his own timeline, engage in the pleasurable activity of recreating their demise.

Then came that sweaty ogre in the white uniform who barged in and demanded the tray containing the meal he hadn’t quite finished consuming.  Without warning, the vermin had reached out to grab the dishes, and had left him no choice but to shatter the bones in both the creature’s arms.  He would have continued twisting them until he removed the offending limbs, but others came with a needle and medication that made him dizzy for days.  At least, the slug in white never returned, nor did any like him.  That is, until today.  When will they learn?  This time, he’d finish what he started.

Tony moved toward the patient, stretching his arms out to embrace him.  12D smiled…

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw provided us with the following inspiration this week:

This week’s prompt comes from one of my old (not in age) sociology professors, Sophie Aubert (yes, she made a cameo appearance in one of my stories earlier this year).  Professor Aubert was lecturing on degrees of truth and perceptions; how our ‘sphere’ influenced those perceptions.

You think that…the only truth that matters is that which can be measured.  That isn’t always the case…some truths can’t be quantified…they just are and we have to accept that.
I want to tell you a little story, something that happened to me a few years ago.
My partner and I were going to a Halloween party at a friend’s place outside of Paris; an old asylum that she had purchased for a song and spent the last several years renovating.
Dusk had fallen, casting long shadows across the narrow forest road, as we made our way to the villa.  Suddenly, a dark shape darted out from the dusk-drawn woods and into the middle of the road, where it stopped–frozen in the glare of the headlights.  Claudette jammed the brakes and the old Citroen slid to a stop only a few feet away from the…
Okay.  That’s enough, I think.  Now, you get to finish the story.
What did Sophie and Claudette see?  What was it that had stopped in the middle of the road?  Was it human or beast?  Was it real or only a ghostly apparition?
And, to make it interesting, let’s throw in a handful of words, shall we?
Prompt:  What ran out of the woods on that dark Halloween night?  What happened after the car stopped?  Did the ‘creature’ run off?  Did Sophie and Claudette get out of the car?  Go ahead and put yourself in the story if you want.  See if you can scare me!
Word List:  Murder, bedchamber, rack, clock, wine, time

I put in a couple of really off-the-wall characters in my story.  Please enjoy.


You know, I’ve stuck my nose where it didn‘t belong more than once in my life, but for the stunt I pulled tonight, I need to be crowned dumb-ass of the year.  There’s a problem however, since I’ll probably be dead long before my coronation.  Here’s the skinny…

My name is Ralph McCorey, and I’m Senior Technician in the Research Laboratory at the University.  What that means is I do all the dirty work and get none of the glory.  Those Professors are always involved in some project that’s supposed to be for educational purposes.  If all those behind-closed-doors experiments they’re doing are for the benefit of the students, why aren’t the students allowed in there?  Too, who are those fellows in black suits and sunglasses, and why do they come and go at all hours of the night?  I’ll tell you why.  It’s because they’re working on government stuff.  Creating bio-weapons or robots.  Or so I thought.

There’s one Professor who believes he’s God’s gift to the planet.  His name’s Maximilian Schleerner.  Are you ready for that?  Who names their kid ‘Maximilian’?  I guess it turned out okay since he grew up and became a college professor.  But, what if the kid had decided to be a circus clown or the manager of a fast food restaurant when he grew up?  How would that moniker wrap itself around him then?  Anyway, moving on…

I’m there in the lab every day cleaning up after those high-and-mighties and you would think I’d get a ‘thanks, Ralph’ now and again, but no.  All I ever get is ‘wipe that spill up, you, and don’t get it on your hands because we’re not sure how it interfaces with human skin’ or ‘hey, you, go get us 8 coffees, 5 black and 3 regular, but go off campus.  That stuff here is sludge.’  They’re nasty and treat me like I’m their personal errand boy, but Maximilian?  He’s the worst.  He looks at me like I belong to a species that hasn’t been identified yet, and never speaks to me.  He just snaps his fingers and points to what he wants and charades it out.  I decided I was going to fix him--and fix him good.

Tonight, I drove to the Laboratory, which is on the backside of the campus.  I took the old forest road no one uses anymore because it’s in terrible shape.  I’m almost to the back gate, and out from the right side of the woods, crossing the road to the left, came a thing.  I slammed on my brakes and put on my brights.  The ‘thing’ looked right at me and then continued to cross and went into the woods on the left side.  What was it?

Well, it was low to the ground and had a body about the size of a two-liter pop bottle.  Not creepy enough?  Did I mention the furry wings that were open to maybe a total span of about 8 feet?  It’s eyes glowed red--yes, I said glowed, and it had fangs like those actors in the vamp movies, only much longer.  It stood maybe a foot off the ground, and walked on two claws that clicked on the road as it walked.  I knew then I had to get to the Lab and snoop around.  A nightmare like that doesn’t just evolve one day from nothing.

I turned my lights off and made my way up the hill.  There were lights on in the office area, so I took a look through one of the windows.  There sat Professor Maximilian himself, writing in a big notebook and what do you think was in there with him?  Two of those whatevers that was on the road.  One was crawling around the room and the other was climbing up the desk.  Once it got up on it, the Prof shoved what looked like a big wad of raw hamburger in its mouth and it slurped the whole thing down.  I could feel the vomit rising in my throat, and figured I’d better pick up some Ripple for the wine rack the previous tenant left behind, and head on home and try to figure out what to do.  I could fix his ass good with this.

When I opened the door to my apartment, I smelled something really rancid, like something had died in there.  Before I could hit the light, the door slammed behind me and I was pushed to the ground.  The lights came on and there stood Professor Maximilian and one of his ‘things’.  How did they beat me here?  And more importantly, how many bites will the thing need to take to finish me off?

“You have foolishly trespassed and witnessed a vision mankind is not yet ready for.”  The Prof always talked all formal like that.

“I’m sorry, Professor.  I didn’t know.  I’m not going to tell anyone.  I mean, who would I tell?  Everybody in your Department probably already knows, right?  You don‘t have to kill me.”

He was thinking.  Maybe there was hope?

“If you will agree to keep this confidential and help me obtain fresh meat for my creations, perhaps we can come to an agreement.”

As long as I’m not the entrée , sure.

“Deal, Prof, and I’ll bring an appetizer to the Lab tonight.  Just give me 30 on the clock.”

“Acceptable, Ralph.  Every night by midnight, and be on time.  Always.  Oh, and they‘ve recently developed a taste for human flesh.”

He called me by my name.  So what now, Ralph, he’s your Valentine?  Come to ground, boy.  What the hell have you got yourself into?  Rinse out test tubes by day; murder by night?  Where are you going to get a body to feed them this evening?  Wait a minute.  That girl I took out for burgers last week.  Joey’s cousin.  Mildred Louise.  The fat one with the third eye who wanted me to share what she called her ‘bedchamber‘.  The first date from hell.  I wonder if she’s home tonight.  Of course she’s home tonight.  I’ll just give her a quick call.  Maybe I’ll be around to wear that crown after all…

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


The prompt this time was from my grandson, Michael, who suggested we use the above picture as inspiration.  You want to spend the night in an underground cave, but when you wake up, your guide is gone and you’re alone.  Or, are you?  The genre was to be horror, so I thought I’d include a bit of the human side of horror as well.  Please enjoy.


What in the name of all that is Holy was that sound?  The only sounds that I’m supposed to be hearing down here are my guide’s and my footsteps and maybe a bit of dripping water from some of the small underground waterfalls.  This is what I’ve paid a fortune for?  The chance to be awakened to a teeth-rattling scream and a grinding noise that reminds me of the compactor on my neighborhood’s garbage truck?  This is really quite unacceptable.  I seriously doubt that mental dwarf of a guide I’ve hired knows just who he’s pissing off here.  This trip was supposed to reduce my stress level, not provide me with yet another ulcer.

My name is Markham Billings, and I have been the top salesman for the Northwest Region for the past ten years running.  What my company creates, and what I sell, is a way to increase revenue.  Densonne Advertising Agency is top-of-the-line when it comes to newspapers, television, billboards, flyers, you name it.  Once a company signs with us, we’ll get their name out everywhere, including on a space shuttle to Mars, if there’s one set to launch.  I have more accounts than all the other bozos on staff, but that’s because I can handle more accounts than all the other bozos on staff.  Especially that airhead Phil McGowan.  Born loser.

All of the other salesmen are in awe of me, and rightfully so.  They’re always asking me for tips and tricks on how to walk into a potential client’s front door and less than an hour later, walk out with a five-year contract locked up tight.  I keep telling them over and over that it’s all in the attitude.  I don’t go in to sell them anything.  I’ve already made up my mind that the account is mine.  The only thing I go in for is the technicality of getting their signature.  Unfortunately for my fellow salesmen, that’s confidence I was born with and not something I can teach.  And still they ask.  But not Phil.

Phil McGowan strolled in one day like he owned the place and somehow managed to convince Densonne himself to take him on.  He had previously sold wall-to-wall carpeting, I think, for some outfit that had gone out of business and now he was looking for something different.  Can you believe it?  He was going to go from rugs to riches--no pun whatsoever intended.  The crumb is an insect and is constantly creeping up on everyone at the office, and looking over their shoulder to see what they‘re working on.  If someone happens to come up behind him while he’s in his cube on his computer though, he immediately exits out to the company logo, so apparently, what’s good for the goose is not necessarily hunky-dory for the rest of us.

I have no idea how he got hired, other than the fact that there’s got to be some type of blackmail involved.  You should know that Densonne isn’t exactly open and above board with his tax reporting, and his sons do not generally verify the ages of the dates they take up to their cabin for weekends.  We are all aware of the family’s flaws, but we all keep to our own and do what we can to line our own pockets.  Which brings me to the most recent development in my ever-prospering career.

There’s a new software outfit opening up right across the line of my territory.  It’s going to be huge and they’ve already got more clients than they will ever need.  Even though it’s technically on the edge of Phil’s sector, I know he can’t handle a client of that magnitude, and so does our President.  The word is I’m going to be given that account and Mr. Phil is going to be left out in the cold to take care of his Mom-and-Pop washing machine manufacturer and some TV repair franchise.  While accounts are generally assigned according to a salesman’s particular area, there are exceptions.  A multi-million dollar one doesn’t need to be taken care of by a dime-a-dozen mope.  It needs to be handled by a one-in-a-million advertising representative:  me.  And that’s what started all of this week’s commotion.

It’s not official yet, but everyone knows it will happen, so what does cry-baby Phil do?  First he runs to Densonne’s office and whines all over him how he needs this chance and just give him the opportunity and he’ll do a great job, and all that other crap.  When he was abruptly dismissed, he came crawling to me.  Oh, I have so many accounts and I make such a big commission already, and he needs to make his mark and blah, blah, blah.  I, of course, told him to go straight to Hell.  I do have a lot of accounts and before I took on this new one, I was going to take a vacation, and when I got back, he was never to speak to me again, unless he was picking up takeout for the staff as newbies are often assigned to do.  He didn’t’ take it very well and walked off with his tail between his legs, but that’s best.  Let him know right from the get-go that I’m Number One and he isn’t.

Funny though how people will twist stuff around and still try to get in your good graces. Phil had heard me talking about how I’ve always wanted to go wandering around underground caves.  I’m not sure where that came from, but it’s always been a fantasy of mine to spend the night way down below the surface on some rock floor, with an underground stream flowing by and no sound anywhere at all, except that of my own breathing.  Problem is, I’m not sure where to go or how to arrange that.  Not too many are offering that kind of one-on-one tour, but believe it or not, Phil handed one to me.  He told me about a friend of his who took people into caves off the islands all the time, and gave me his number.  He apologized for acting a fool about the new account and wished me an enjoyable vacation.  I’m going to take him up on it, but he’s still a jerk and I’ll never let him forget it either.

So, now you know how I got here, but where is here?  My so-called guide took me up and down, over and through, around and back and we ended up spending the night in this cavern that’s dimly lit by the one around the corner where the rocks seem to be glowing.  All’s well and good, right?  Wrong.  I came here to get away, true, but not permanently.  My $1,000 a day guide left his gear, and took off for parts unknown, I woke up to a scream I‘m not sure was human, and what the Hell is that grinding noise?  Something’s moving around in that lit up area.  I’m going to go over and…

“Phil?  What are you doing here, and what’s the gun for?  Oh, I get it.  You set this up so you could get me down here and kill me, is that it?  You’ll never get away with this.  You’ll never get that account either.”

I can’t believe I fell for his ‘I’m-so-sorry’ bullshit act.

“Markham, I’m not going to kill you, but you will die here, just like all the others who have placed themselves in my way.  I’m sure my friend Thomas who guided you here told you all about the legend of these caves.”

I wonder if I can drop and toss a rock at him before he pulls the trigger.

“Yes, Phil, Thomas told me all about The Mother.  Some thing that lives down here and feeds on those who violate her nest.  It’s one for the books, Phil.  Real funny.  Ha.  Ha.”

Why was Phil backing up?  Where does he think he’s going?

“Mother is quite real, Markham, and she’s close.  She, and her young, are still quite hungry too.  I’ve already whetted her appetite with Thomas, since he’s really not of any use to me anymore.  I’ll just use one of the exits I fashioned for myself years ago and you have a seat and wait for Mother.  She should be here very soon.”

He thinks he can back up around the corner and I won’t follow?  He won’t fire that gun--that would probably start some kind of slide.  Okay, he went around to the right.  I’ll quietly go toward…  What?  Where did he go?  There’s no opening in here at all.  How did he…

What’s that rustling noise?  I can feel hot breath on me and it smells like death.  The shadow on the wall is towering over me and coming down.  Something wet and slimy is covering my face.  Something sharp has sliced into my neck.  Oh God, it hurts…

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


F3’s 100th prompt has a Western theme, and we were to use the following words in our story:  Rattlesnake, six-shooter, adios, miner, madam, dusty, and sheriff.  I suppose the upcoming fright fest of a holiday crept in my head for this one.  Please enjoy as I try to answer:


Georgie woke up on a cot in what looked like a saloon right out of the Old West.  He stood up and looked around and there were swinging doors at the entrance, and several small wooden tables and chairs .  He checked the shelves behind the bar, but all were empty.

“What the hell?” he said.  “One minute I’m pulling a score and the next…”

Georgie saw the doors swing in and a tall man entered.  As he approached the bar, Georgie could see that if they ever decided to remake Rawhide, this cat was ready.  Black Stetson hat, black shirt, leather vest and pants, double gunbelt, and black boots with spurs.

“Nice six-shooters you got there, Sheriff.  What do you say we belly up to the bar and pour ourselves a shot of firewater?”

The man took a seat on one of the barstools, removed his hat and placed it on the bar.  It’s been so long, he thought.  I hope this one will be different.

“I am Daniel,” he said softly, “and I’m not the Sheriff.  I am the Caretaker.”

The ‘Caretaker’?  Georgie wondered if that brain tumor Madam Zenda told him was in his future had finally honed in on him.  It was time to get directions to the closest highway and head straight to an ER.

“Name’s Georgie, and as much as I’d love to stay and visit, I’ve got places to go.  So, if you’ll just take me to my car, I’ll be on my way.”

The man took a deep breath and began.

“I know who you are.  Let me explain.  You want to know where you are?  Well, my friend, this is Hell.  One of them.  Others come, but they don‘t last long.  We have until morning to talk--a rare reprieve from loneliness for me.  I haven’t had any company in a long time.  Could we please have a conversation?”

Georgie couldn’t figure out this clown in the Gunsmoke Halloween getup.   It’s like he actually believed the garbage he was spouting.  Georgie couldn’t remember running out of gas.  When Johnny D loaned him that clunker, he said it would get Georgie to the bank in Huntersville and then to the city on one tank.  Engine must have died, but where was the car, and how did Georgie end up in this loony bin?

“Okay.  Let’s assume, just for a minute, that you’re telling the truth and this is Hell.  Where’s all the fire and brimstone and the devil with his pitchfork?  All I see is a deserted town at the end of nowhere, complete with dusty streets, and a saloon with no booze.  Oh, and you.  A broken down gunslinger who likes to sit and chat like some old broad at a Bridge game.  Sorry, but I’m splitting this pop stand.  Adios, friend.”

Daniel didn’t see any point in telling him he wouldn‘t get far.  This man, Georgie, would find out soon enough.

Georgie couldn’t see the wall, but he could feel it.  Wide open spaces ahead as far as the eye could see, but he couldn’t walk past the school on one side, the burned out church on the other, or out into the fields that ran alongside.  It was like he was inside a large square box.  He could feel the warmth of the sun, and the air he breathed was clean and fresh.  He knew the world was still out there, but how, and why, was he being kept here?  What if the cowboy was right?

This wasn’t funny anymore.  Georgie was genuinely pissed now, and headed back to the saloon to get some straight answers from Clint Eastwood’s clone.  As he approached the doors, a rattlesnake appeared out of nowhere and struck at his left leg.  He quickly pushed open the doors and made his way to the bar where the man in black was still sitting.

“I just got bit by a snake.  Where’s the doctor?”  Georgie was in a panic.  He was sure a rattlesnake’s bite would kill him if he didn’t get help pretty quick.

“Nothing will happen to you,” the man said.  “The snakes are the only creatures I have for company.  Every now and then, they strike.  I am unsure as to why.”

“That’s it.”  Georgie had had enough.  “What is this place and why can’t I leave?”

“As I said earlier, this is my Hell.  Long ago, I robbed the bank in this town and I killed a woman and her child during my getaway.  For my evil deed, I was condemned to remain in this shadow of the town it once was.  Before you, there was a miner who had gambled away his claim and decided to rob the bank.  He killed a schoolteacher and was shot by a guard.  You were killed by a policeman on your way out right after you shot an expectant teller.  She died instantly, as did her unborn child.”

“How did you…  I mean, who told…  I…”

“We will be permitted to talk through the night.  Once the sun again rises, however, we may no longer speak, and will not be permitted any further communication until another arrives.  And, that’s only if someone tries to rob this town’s bank, takes the life of an innocent and is killed in the process.  If that doesn’t occur, or when the bank ceases to exist, we will have only silence for eternity.”

Georgie wished this jerk would shut his piehole.

“I’m ready to call our jawing session quits right now, but one last question.  Why won’t we be able to talk in the morning?”

“I am not permitted to answer that.  However, I am obliged to tell you that if you wish to join the screaming souls in the Lake of Fire, you need only to wish for it.  So, in the few hours that remain, will you please indulge my need for the sound of a human voice and tell me about yourself?”

Georgie shook his head and went to lay down on the cot.  He saw the man lay his head on the bar and close his eyes.  He better not come near me during the night, Georgie thought, or he’ll be missing more than conversation when I get through with him.

Georgie felt the sun on his face.  He just knew when he opened his eyes, he’d be in a suite at the Holiday Inn on Route 85.  Unfortunately, he was still in the middle of this nightmare.  The man had moved to the other side of the room and was on the floor, his face to the wall.  Georgie watched him breathing slowly, and was grateful he was still asleep. He was not in the mood for a pow-wow with this nutcase.  He stretched and felt a yawn coming, but something was wrong.  Why couldn’t he open his mouth?  If that bastard did something to me…

Georgie walked behind the bar and looked into the mirror.  Below his nose, the entire bottom of his face was one solid mass--his mouth had been erased.  Now, he understood.  He closed his eyes and made a wish.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Here's the next chapter in the on-going collaboration between Lewis Peters and myself entitled A Little R and R.  I've included links to the first three chapters in case you need to catch up.  Please enjoy.





They were coming, but not simply to take a quick look-see and then sail on by.  An inflatable motor boat was deployed and it was headed straight for the yacht.  Whoever was in it would board and find me with drugs galore, a dead body, and a shotgun in my hands.  Snooping around in here probably wasn’t the wisest decision I’ve ever made, but it did make me realize just how big this show is and also just how dangerous its puppeteers are.  Since whoever’s coming will be armed and won’t hesitate to use ‘he-pulled-his-gun-on-us-first’ as their official line of defense, I decided against donning a cloak of nobility and chose instead to hide.  Somebody once said that he who cowers and runs away, lives to fight another day, and that’s good enough for me.

I figured the cabin with Danny’s body would most likely be the safest for me since there would be no reason for them to check on his status.   They’re either here to retrieve some, or all, of the coke, or to make sure nobody’s messed with it.  Funny thing is, those are the only two possible reasons that crossed my mind.  It never occurred to me that, as the Coast Guard, they’re simply running a legitimate check on what appears to be an abandoned boat.  Well, somebody else said that just because you’re paranoid, that doesn’t mean nobody’s out to get you.  That one’s good enough for me too.

I made my way back to the aft cabin and almost felt I had to apologize for disturbing Danny’s final resting place.  They’d taken him down hard and he’d seen it coming--guaranteed.  I do a lot of jobs for local law enforcement and I’m Mr. Hard-as-Nails when I’m escorting a you’ll-never-take-me-alive bail jumper to the county lockup or snapping photos of a cheating wife lying naked on the backseat of her lover’s car while her paramour swings at me with a baseball bat.  But, this one, I can’t take on with my Polaroid or with Mr. .38 strapped to my ankle.  This thing, whatever it is, is way bigger than me, or anything I’ve ever run up against, and I’m going to have to bring in a friend to help me.  I’m going to have to enlist the aid of my long-time associate, The Butcher.

The Butcher’s real name is Teddy Cornmow.  Really.  He tells me whenever we hook up on a case that if I ever reveal his given name to anyone, he’ll jazz up my books so good that they’ll re-open a wing on Alcatraz just for me.  That’s what he does, Teddy.  He’s a numbers guy--a genuine Certified Public Accountant.  He’s got a Master’s Degree too, I think.  I'm not sure who christened him The Butcher, but if you ever saw what that fellow can do to a ledger, you'd applaud the moniker.  Odd thing about it though is that he does his 'butchering' in reverse.  You screw up your books to make yourself look kosher, and Teddy will go through them like a buzzsaw and undo each and every trick you think you pulled.  If you were ever alone with him in an elevator however, I doubt you’d be afraid to turn your back on him.  He’s 5 foot 3 when he’s stretching, wears glasses as thick as thermal-panes, and can barely bench press his two-year old nephew.  But Teddy’s still one deadly dude.

Teddy can find out anything about anybody and actually find anybody too, just based on their finances.  The phrase ‘follow the money’ wasn’t just made up for the movies.  Following the money is how Teddy makes his living.  A steady income flows his way via some covert governmental agency.  He volunteers nothing and I’ve learned not to ask.  All I know is he’s well protected and is on the side of apple pie and mom, so I have no quarrel with The Ted.  Besides, his resources are limitless.  In my line of work, a better friend I could not have.

Helping me out here and there doesn’t add more than a few bucks to his pockets, but he likes me, so he gives me a hand when I need it.  According to The Butcher, anyone who does whatever they have to do to get the job done is alright by him.  I don’t break the law--exactly, but if I ever need to bend it a bit for the greater good, then so be it.  However, I don’t smuggle coke, execute business partners, or bank a mil at my local branch.  I’m not sure how Teddy’s going to react when I ask him to follow the money where my own brother is concerned, but it’s got to be done.  Teddy’s never met George, but I’ve always talked him up whenever he was awarded some certificate or honor, and Teddy knows I’ve always been proud of my brother--personally and professionally.

Now, all I can think is who is George, really?  Is he part of some international drug smuggling operation?  Is he a Coast Guard Ops Specialist by day and a Cartel assassin by night?  George was nervous over breakfast and did I detect a bit of fear?  Was that an act for my benefit when in reality, he’s nothing more than a cold-blooded murderer?  Or has he gotten himself more deeply involved in a situation than he ever intended, and now believes there’s no way out?  He was so insistent that I remain at his cabin.  Does his only way out involve throwing me to his wolves?

I’m getting another headache and I left my liquid aspirin back at the cabin.  Of course, a headache will be the least of my worries soon because within the next few minutes, I’ll be doing the dead man’s float for real.  I can hear them coming alongside.  Soon they’ll be on deck.  I pulled the cabin door open and hung on to the knob with my right hand, stood the shotgun up and hung into the barrel with my left, pressed myself against the wall, and closed my eyes.  Well, Danny, here’s hoping they’re the bad guys.

I could hear a couple of different voices, but George’s wasn’t one of them.  Damn.  If they’re legit Coast Guard, they’ll stick their official noses into every nook and cranny, find me, find Danny, find my shotgun…

“…hasn’t been here that long.  He might be running late, but as long as the package is intact, there won’t be any problems.  At least, not from me.”

Whoever the man was, he obviously found his own conversation quite amusing because he started laughing.  Apparently, his associate also appreciated his comedic timing, because soon, they were both doubled over.  The punch line escaped me.

“The other one must be pretty ripe by now, but we’ll let George tuck him in for the night, after he takes care of our other problem.  He told Sonny that he‘s got everything all set up”

A different voice.  Another player.  Who‘s Sonny?  And George has been awarded the honor of disposing of Danny’s remains, but what other problem does George have?  Me?  What has George got ‘all set up’?  My elimination?

They were moving around the yacht, opening this and slamming that shut, walking heavy and loud.  They obviously believed that they wouldn’t be disturbing whoever else was on board.

“You do a count and make sure the package is intact and I’m going to make a call and report this as secure.  Then, we’ll head back.”

The footsteps moved away from my cocoon between the door and the cabin wall.  So, their job was just to make sure nobody touched their stash and keep the Coast Guard away by reporting it as a secured vessel, like maybe the owner just stepped off to enjoy a quick five mile hike into town for a burger and a beer.  Come to think of it, who is the owner of this yacht?  Was he the head of this drug ring, or just an unsuspecting dupe--like me?  What had brought Danny here and why was it necessary to take him out of the picture?  And, where‘s Janine in all this?  She and George and Danny used to be like The Three Musketeers.  Now that Danny’s no longer part of their ménage a trios, will it be just the two of them from now on or is Sonny the third spoke on their wheel?  If I never get out of this, I’m going to start carrying a flask.

“The package is in one piece.’  The second voice.  The underling, it would seem, since he got assigned the thrill of the count.

“We’re all good.  None of our crews will board her.  George should be back soon to clean up his mess, and arrange for the pickup.  He said it should all go down nice and easy.  I like nice and easy.  The pay‘s better.”

The first guy again dissolved into raucous laughter.  His sidekick offered up a slight tee-hee, as I’m sure he was duty-bound to do, and they both made their way up to the deck.  I could hear them start the motor and quickly move out towards their cutter.  I decided to try to think this through up on deck where I could breathe in some fresher air since Danny had started to become quite pungent.

I made sure the two visitors were far enough away before I went up and out.  I decided it would be better to exit the yacht and return to solid ground where I felt markedly safer.  Keeping an eye on the motorboat, and the cutter just in case, I went around to the back of the boathouse.  I took another quick peek through the window, and thankfully, it was as dusty and deserted as before.  Time to appraise my situation.

The guys on the yacht were Coast Guard Officers, and obviously, corrupt ones who are in on the drug deal.  They both know George, who may have had a hand in Danny’s murder.  George insisted I remain at his cabin alone, knowing I was without any transportation in case of an emergency.  He was jumpy--pissed off really, that I had been wandering about in the woods.  With all the drugs on the yacht, why hide one pack in the cabin?  Was George stupid enough to try to skim some off the top?  He had to have taken it with him when he left, but why?  Was he cutting a side deal?  Was Sonny the big dog?  The Coast Guard was George’s and Danny’s cover.  Was Janine’s the RCMP?

Too many questions that I can’t answer.  I’ve got to find a way back to the city and get in touch with The Butcher.  He’s my best bet to begin to get this nightmare unraveled.  The ringtone on my cell going off just now has caused a rather embarrassing stain down the left leg of my jeans.  I had never shut it down because I thought being waterlogged had brought about its permanent demise.

The name in the caller ID brought my nightmare to new heights.  It was George.  Okay.  George is calling me to find out if my cell’s got service.  He believes I’m at the cabin and he’s checking on me.  Come on, Frank, you don’t really buy that load of crap now, do you?  George is calling my cell to see if it works, but only for two reasons.  One, if I don’t answer, then he and his cohorts are free and clear because I’m taking a dirt nap on one of the trails around the cabin.  Two, if by some slim chance I should answer, then there’s been some kind of glitch with the hired help and he’s going to have to finish me off himself.  I’m not sure how to…

No need for me to worry about it any more because George’s call went to voicemail.  Thank God I’ve got The Butcher on speed dial…

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


The prompt this time was to tell a story about a character facing the end of something--a job, a relationship, their sanity…, and to show how it all turned out by providing an ending.  My story deals with endings of a sort, and I hope you enjoy it.


I knew this was too good to be true.  I knew it from the very beginning, but I’ve lived in denial all these years.  Clarissa never loved me.  Maybe at first, but as soon as I introduced her to my Supervisor, Doug, the end of our marriage was on the horizon.  I believed I could prevent the destruction of our lives together, but what happened Wednesday morning made me realize all hope was lost.  I have no choice but to accept.  The end is near.

Clarissa’s always telling me I’m a complete failure in one sense.  She laughs, and tells me that I am very successful, both personally and professionally, but for that one shortcoming.  According to my wife, I always jump to irrational conclusions.  I’ve never understood how any person could ‘always’ do any one thing, but Clarissa assures me that I am the prime example.  If a situation appears to be going one way, I don’t see it through and await the natural outcome.  I decide from the start how it’s going to turn out and act on it without any feedback, evidence, or rational contemplation.  I will admit, overall, I’m usually wrong, but still.  It isn’t like Clarissa is a perfect little angel.  No, my friend.  That, she is not.

When I left for the office after breakfast, Clarissa was finishing her coffee while watching one of those game shows on TV.  Those come on in the morning, afternoon and some are on in the evening, and she watches every single one.  The housework waits until the 10:00 news comes on, the laundry waits until my favorite midnight movie, and dinner is generally a catch-as-catch-can affair.  But, do I denigrate Clarissa for this irresponsible and annoying habit?  Never.  When you love a person, you accept who, and what, they are.  Apparently, I’m the only one who can see that.

I got all the way to my car when I realized I had forgotten a file I needed for a meeting this afternoon.  As I opened the back door into the kitchen, I could hear Clarissa talking.  It sounded like she was on the living room extension.  The folder I needed was on the counter, and I was almost out the door, when I heard Clarissa say ‘Oh, Doug.  I just can’t wait’.

I’m not going to tell a lie here and say I decided to have one more glass of juice.  I planted myself in one of the chairs at the table and listened.  ‘Irrational conclusion jumper’, am I?  Well, we’ll see about that.

“Doug, it’s going to be fantastic.  I’ll tell him we need to get away for a nice romantic weekend.  It was so clever of you to rent both cabins.  That way, you can get everything set up in yours, and he’ll never suspect a thing.  I know how I’ll get him over there too.  Since you also paid for our cabin, I’ll say we need to take a bottle of something over to your place and share a drink to thank you.  That’s when we’ll let him have it.“

“We’ll leave Friday when he gets home and be there by 10:00.  We’ll head over to your cabin around 10:30, so have everything ready, so there won’t be any slip-ups.  We’ve got one chance to get this right.  Okay.  I’ll give you a call when I see his car pulling in the driveway Friday afternoon to confirm.  This is so exciting--I’m all tingly thinking about it.  Got to go.”

When I heard Clarissa hang up the phone, I grabbed my folder and went out the back door to my car.  I had left it running when I came back in, so I backed out as fast as I could.  I decided to stop at the diner down the street to get a cup of coffee and think.  Nothing was going on in my department till around 11:00, so I knew I’d have time for a muffin too.  When you realize that the people closest to you are planning to murder you in a couple of days, a muffin seems a small extravagance.

Thursday flowed smoothly without incident except Clarissa seemed quite uncharacteristically affectionate towards me.  I attend to my husbandly duty once per week as my father had instructed me, and Clarissa had stated on our wedding day that such an arrangement would suit her fine.  Saturday night was our scheduled session, but since my wife knew I wouldn’t be around for the next one, she seemed anxious to get one last bit of love-doveying in.  Needless to say, I was not in the mood to even share a bed with the one of the conspirators who was planning my demise, so I told her I had an intense headache and chose to retire early.  She informed me that I’d better feel great by tomorrow night since she had something special planned for us for the weekend.  I thought, sure.  Plans for us.  You and my boss kill me and I die.  Excuse me if I don’t throw confetti.

When I left for work Friday, I knew what I had to do.  Yes, it would be upsetting to me, but what choice did I have?  Doug hadn’t been in the office Wednesday or Thursday, but he was there big-as-life and twice-as-ugly on Friday.  Every time he passed my desk, he smiled, or patted me on the back.  I wasn’t sure what type of pre-homicidal ritual he was engaging in, but I didn’t want to raise any suspicion.  I simply smiled back and carried on.  If I refused to go, and upset their apple cart this weekend, it wouldn’t save me.  Clarissa and Doug would just come up with another plot to remove me from their picture, only next time, I may not know the details.  No.  My only chance was to play along and face them both on my terms.

When I arrived home Friday, Clarissa had our bags packed and lined up by the front door.  Naturally, I asked her about it.

“Darling, you’ll never guess.  Doug wanted to get away this weekend and since you’ve been working so hard lately, he thought you and I should get away too.  He rented two cabins out by Mt. Pierre Lake, one for him and one for us.  They’re right across the stream from each other and there’s this cute little bridge that connects them.  After we arrive and get our things inside, we should head over with a bottle of wine and toast our friendship and thank him for his hospitality.  Then we can enjoy the rest of the weekend in private and have a lovely, romantic time.  We need to leave soon though.  I don’t want to arrive too late.  It’s awfully dark out there in those woods.”

Charming.  ‘Then we can enjoy the rest of the weekend in private.’  Of course you will, because I’ll probably be some grizzly’s midnight snack.

“I think that’s a wonderful idea, Clari.  I’ll put the suitcases in the car.  Why don’t you check and make sure all the windows are locked, and all that good stuff.”

Boy, I’m good.  While she’s sealing up the house, I’ll get the extra small bag I packed early this morning.  Just a personal item I picked up especially for this trip.

Our cabin is very classy on the inside, not what one might consider a cabin at all.  All electric, running water, a fully stocked gourmet kitchen, and the furniture in the living room alone probably cost more than our entire house.  We arrived a little before 10:00 and I brought all the bags in.  Clarissa put the wine in the refrigerator to chill before we went over to Doug’s.  The time had come for me to take the bull by the horns and be the one to end our relationship.  She seemed quite taken aback by my accusations, but I informed her I had heard all about her and Doug’s brilliant plan.  She started crying and complaining about my irrational jumping.  Again.  At that point, I got my extra little bag out and made my position very clear to Clarissa.  I then took her over that cute little bridge to Doug’s.

When I kicked open Doug’s door, and shouted that I’d brought his whore to him, imagine my surprise when I saw mine and Clarissa’s parents, my co-workers, and our friends all standing around a table full of sandwiches, cakes, cookies, coffee and bottles of champagne.  The banner behind them read ‘Congratulations, Bobby, On Your Promotion to Supervisor’.  Doug had recently been promoted to Department Manager and I was wondering who would get his old job.  Obviously, it was me.

They had begun to yell surprise, but stopped mid-word when I entered.  It was probably due to the fact that I was covered in blood, had a hatchet in one hand and Clarissa’s severed head in the other.  Apparently, I’d done that irrational jumping thing again.