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…