Friday, June 28, 2019
The prompt this week was a particular scenario: “You’re in prison and your partner is visiting for the first time. Write the conversation you have.” In my story, the convict’s partner is his partner in crime. Please enjoy.
“Hi, Gerald. I know you’re upset, but please try to understand. What I did was…”
“When they told me I had a visitor, I thought my old ma was finally able to raise bus fare. But you? What makes you think I’d ever want to look at your lying, back-stabbing… Guard! Take me back to…”
“Ger, wait, please let me explain. That’s why I came to see you today. It was hard too. You know how I get when I am in close spaces, and this prison is made up of so many small and cramped rooms. I am feeling very uncomfortable right now.”
“I’m sorry this isn’t fun for you, Raymond. I mean, the purpose of a prison is to make its residents and their visitors feel all snuggly buggly.”
“Thank you for your concern, Ger. I’ll be all right. I just need to keep taking deep…”
“What the hell is wrong with you? You’re uncomfortable? I’m the one who got convicted and sentenced to do a dime, not you. Did it ever occur to you that I might be a little uncomfortable too? After all, a 6 by 9 room with bars and a metal bowl for a toilet is my home for the next ten years. What explanation could there be for you betraying me like that?”
‘Ger, I had to testify against you. You know I wouldn’t be able to stand being locked up. When I told the cops you came in and forced me to open the safe, they said I was lucky to be alive. They said robbers usually kill witnesses and…”
“Raymond! Tune back in to reality. You weren’t a witness. We both were in on it to rob the gas station. Remember the plan? You send the other clerk out for dinner, open the safe, take out the payroll pack, we clean out the registers, and drive away. Easy peasy. Once we cross the border, we’re home free. The plan was perfect, but you screwed it up.”
“How many times do I have to say sorry? I was just as startled as you were when the alarm went off. I thought I had turned it off, but I was remembering when I turned it off last Friday morn…”
“Raymond, why are you here? I thought you were going to explain why you betrayed me.”
“Ger, I wish you wouldn’t look at it that way. If it was a real betrayal, I wouldn’t be here to console you.”
“Console me? I swear, you are out of your…”
“Listen. Please. There are two reasons why I’m here, and they will both make you feel better about this whole situation. First of all, just think about how it all turned out. I’m on the outside and I’m not cooped up. I would be very unhappy if I was cooped up. You’re my friend, and I know how important it is to you that I am happy.”
“That is one of my personal goals in life.”
“I know, Ger. You have always…”
“What horrible thing did I do in a past life that’s causing me to be punished in this one?”
“What do you mean, Ger?”
“Nothing. What’s the other reason?”
“The money. Remember how when the cops surrounded the building, and you were trying to figure a way out through the vents in the ceiling the led to the roof?”
“I hid our bag of money behind some tiles in the corner. After we reopened, I checked, and it was still there. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t found when the cops went through everything.”
“They never did ask me about the money. I always wondered why.”
“That’s because I told them there was another member of your gang that drove up and you tossed them the bag and they drove away just as the cops arrived.”
“Another member of my… What’s the point of talking to you? What does it matter if you have the money? I’m locked up and you can’t spend it. That would attract attention.”
“It’s a good thing, Ger. When I get paid, I take a couple of twenties out of the bag and deposit them with my paycheck. I told the teller I got a second job with a Mom and Pop store and they pay me in cash.”
“I know I’m going to regret asking, but how is that a good thing?”
“I’m going to keep depositing that stolen money, and when you get out, we’ll take it out and go someplace nice.”
“You really think that we… Never mind. Great plan, Raymond. My time’s up and I have to go back. Do come again, okay? The next ten years promises to be pretty dull, and you’ll be good for a laugh or two.”
“Of course, Ger. I’ll keep you posted on the interest we’re earning too.”
“Lucky me. Guard? I am so ready to go back now.”
“How’d it go, sweetie?”
“Perfection. Gerald bought it hook, line, and sinker. We’ll be in a villa in Rio by the time it dawns on him it was all bull. If he snitches to the law, they’ll think he’s making up a story to get out sooner. If he tries to put a hit on me with one of his people, they’ll never find us. I’ve got passports for us with new names. The haul from the Texaco, along with my other side deals, will keep us in champagne for years to come.”
“It’s wild how he believed all this time that between the two of you, he was the one with the brains.”
“Isn’t it? Every town’s the same, babe. Side deals are always on, but I always need a sucker to clean out somebody’s payroll. The first time Gerald pulled in for a fill-up, I knew I had found my fall guy for this caper.”
“You used Simple Raymond this time, right, honey?”
“Simple Raymond it was, doll. One of my faves…”
Friday, June 21, 2019
The challenge this week was to write about a dumpster. That wasn’t all though. We were also supposed to include five random words from a random word generator. I got some doozies! They were: Grape, soda, protect, realize, and consider. I highlighted those.
The Last Pickup
Hey. It’s good to finally see somebody. I’ve been alone here for what feels like forever. Have you got a minute? I won’t take up much of your time. I really won’t because I don’t have much time before… Wait. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Let me tell you my story from the beginning. The way you’re looking at me, I’m certain you have many questions. By the time I’m finished, I guarantee, they’ll all be answered. When I am done though, if you don’t mind, I have one question for you. It’s very important to me to be able to get another opinion from someone who can look at this situation objectively. Ready? Okay.
Consider this. Oh, I forgot. Sorry. My name is Two-Tone Tony. No, that’s not the one my old mama put on me, but it’s the one I go by. You can call me Two-Tone. Where did that come from? Some kids when they’re growing up, they’re watching cartoons, but not me. No. I was a different kind of kid. I watched every gangster movie that I could find. Yes, I said gangsters. I thought they were the luckiest guys on the planet. They were always dressed in expensive suits, had diamond pinkie rings, gorgeous dames on their arms, and special shoes.
Special shoes, you ask? Yes. They always had on shoes that cost more than my Pops earned in a month. And the shine? It was like they were walking around with mirrors on their feet. I made up my mind that if I were ever that loaded, I would wear shoes like they did. Mine wouldn’t be just one color though; mine would be two, like black and brown, or beige and tan – you get the idea. Mama gave me the Tony part, and the people in our neighborhood added the Two-Tone part. I knew with that handle, I could get what the gangsters had. The money, the dames, and most of all, the respect. That was the biggest draw for me. The respect.
You don’t call it respect? What do you think it was? Fear? You’re probably right about that. All right, maybe everybody in the neighborhood was afraid of them. But I still believe you can throw respect in there, because respect was what I had for every one of them. When I got older, I realized that I had real gangsters right in my own neighborhood. I saw what they did and what they had, and I wanted to be one of them. Big Belly Bob ran our neighborhood, and my old mama would invite him in for coffee when he walked through his territory. I asked her why she gave him cakes and lit candles for him in church, and she said it was out of respect. See? Respect.
Fast forward to now. I ended up working for Big Belly Bob. Don’t get the wrong idea about him. There’s no ‘shakes-like-a-bowl-full-of-jelly’ about Bob. He’s no Santa. He’s big, he’s tough, and he’s as hard as they come. But, if you do what you’re supposed to, you get paid, and his guys protect your family. Good deal, right? I used to think so, but thinking about how much green he was raking in, I began to want more. Now, mine was not a job where you get reviewed and then get a raise every year. I got paid what Big Belly Bob wanted to pay me, and not a penny more. It was okay with me at the start, but over time, it started bothering me that he was sitting back and taking it all in, while I was the one out there doing all the work.
I was a collector. Folks owed Big Belly Bob money every week. I collected it on Saturday mornings from everybody on my route, tallied it up, and laid it all at Triple B’s feet. Literally. That’s the way he liked it. We all had to do that. Sound like harassment of your employees? Yep. But, remember, we had no HR Department to complain to. Anyway, not making a cent more than when I started, I felt unappreciated and took a little bit of cash from each case I picked up one Saturday. I brought them to Triple B, handed him the tally sheets that I had made up, and went on my way. A couple of hours later, his guys paid me a visit and asked where’s the cash I took? Of course, I said, what? I wouldn’t… That’s as far as I got. Turned out that lately, Bob’s been double-checking counts against what folks owed, what they said they paid and… You get the picture.
So, here’s my question. I’ve worked for Bob for years, and I was honest and loyal, and never said a harsh word to or about him. Yes, I skimmed a bit of his cash off the top, but it was only one time, and I was never going to do it again. If you were Bob and you found out what I did, would you put the hit on me? You would? Wait a minute. Remember the bit about honest and loyal. Now, I’ll ask again. Would you order a hit? Yes? Huh…
Thanks for listening, but you probably have somewhere to be. Besides, the garbage truck’s coming to pick up this dumpster I’m hog-tied in. The driver won’t see me fall in the back because it’s all done automatic, you see. I’ll be in the middle of the landfill by supper time – me and the can of grape soda somebody rudely tossed in. I hear the truck coming. What? Thanks for your concern, but don’t worry about me. I knew the score when I took the job. One thing upsets me though. I’ve got new shoes on. Got them this morning. Navy and sky. Classy. Expensive. Now they’re all sticky with grape soda…
Friday, June 14, 2019
This week's prompt was to click on Random Street View to get a snapshot of a random place, and build our story around the view we get. This is the view I got, and it inspired me to look ahead at what could be, rather than at what was. My story is a bit over the 1,000 word mark. It's 1,106 actually, but I snipped it down as far as I could and I'm going to let it stand. I hope you enjoy it.
The Road Ahead
Where am I going? I can’t say. It isn’t that I don’t want to say, it’s that I don’t know. What’s more, I don’t care. As I look out my window, all I see are empty fields that border a long, and even emptier, road. This bus only goes by our farm every month or so – sometimes several months go by. There’s only one other farm out this way for miles besides Jack’s and mine, and somehow, Greyhound knows none of us are ever going anywhere, so why waste the gas? Today though, it not only came by, it stopped. The driver saw me running toward the road. I was still pretty close to the house, so I was lucky the driver saw me at all. I started waving my Bible – that’s all I was carrying, and he pulled over, and opened the door. I wanted to kiss him for it, but I didn’t. How could he possibly understand? How could he possibly know he saved me?
I should have started at the beginning. This morning… I know what you’re thinking. You’re only going back that far? I thought you said you’d start at the beginning. Well, there’s no need to go back any farther since all my mornings are exactly the same, and have been exactly the same for the past eleven years. I’m supposed to get up before the sun, go feed the chickens, and collect eggs from the coop. Then, I’m supposed to make breakfast. I’m supposed to make eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, toast, coffee, and then I’m supposed to… Wait. Something doesn’t sound quite right to me. Does it sound quite right to you? I never said what I do every morning. I said what I’m supposed to do every morning. Jack told me right from the start that there’s things I’m supposed to do every day. If I don’t do them, I’m supposed to be punished. Wow. I’m saying ‘supposed to’ a lot, aren’t I? See the problem?
I knew how it would be from when I walked out of the church. Jack and me didn’t go for any honeymoon because Jack said that was a waste. Now that I was a wife, I didn’t need to be going on any fancy vacations where folks did for me. Now that I was a wife, it was me that should be doing. You may be asking yourself, why would you go along with an arrangement like that? I went along because that’s the way of the world; at least, that what I believed. Growing up, my mama did for my father each and every day until he buried her. Then, I did for him each and every day until Jack took me away from that life. Of course, my new life as a wife was to do for Jack each and every day until he buried me. If I ever had a daughter, then she would… See the problem?
It’s funny how we get caught up. Me, my mama, her mama before her, and her mama… You might be thinking I’ve just gone along and only woke up five minutes ago. No. I’ve been planning my escape for a long time, but my warden was always right with me. He was always watching, always checking, always… But, you know, there’s a few minutes each day where you’ve got a few seconds to yourself, and that’s all I needed. I was never allowed to leave the farm. It wasn’t my job to go to town. Jack went, and did the shopping, and sometimes, he’d have beers with his friends at the tavern. It wouldn’t have done me any good to go to town since I didn’t have any friends to go to a tavern with anyway.
Whenever he left, I’d go through everything to find the money he hid. He told me he had money, but I wasn’t supposed to touch it. ‘Supposed to’. I’m really hating those words now. Anyhow, I found where he hid it and took some. Not a lot. I didn’t want him to notice because my punishment would have been really bad. My daily punishment was bad, but not really bad. A few slaps, and sometimes, I got punched to the floor, but I always managed to get up. If I didn’t cry, he’d stop. That’s a good thing, right? Back to the money, I hid what I found in my Bible. I knew it was safe there because Jack wouldn’t put his hands on the Good Book. Personally, I believe if he did, he’d burst into flames. Ha! Oh no. Did Jack hear me laugh? I can’t let him hear… Wait. He’s back at the house, so HA! I’d better stop. The other folks on this bus are staring at the woman with the messy hair, bloody cheek, wearing a dress torn at the shoulder, carrying a Bible…
I’ve gone off the track, but I thought you needed some background. So, today? Jack went to town, so I was looking to take a bit more cash and then I’d be ready to find a way to leave. Turns out, Jack lied about going to town. I wasn’t paying attention – I slipped up, and he came in and caught me. I braced myself for a punch – that’s probably what I deserved for that, but he grabbed his shotgun and pointed it at me. He told me today was my last and pulled the trigger. That surprised me. If I got buried, who he’d get to feed the chickens, collect the eggs, cook his… I’m worrying about how Jack would get by after he buried me. See the problem?
The shotgun didn’t fire, and Jack started to cry. Cry. I felt bad for him. I almost went over and put my arms around him for comfort. I mean, that’s what I’m supposed to… No. What I was supposed to do was grab my Bible and run like Hell toward the road, and that’s what I did. Cars never come by out here, and town is miles away, but I figured I’d run until I dropped. If today was going to be my last, it would my last on my terms – not Jack’s. Like I said at the start, I saw the Greyhound and started waving. The driver stopped, I got on, paid to get to the terminal in the next county, and from there? I have no clue. I have no other clothes either. Or skills. Or friends. Or family… All I’ve got is me, my Bible, and a few more twenties. See the problem? Me either!
Friday, June 7, 2019
The prompt this week was to write a wedding story, and include the traditional ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’. Genre, gender, and species were our choice, and I took those choices quite literally. I strayed from tradition a bit, but the basics are still there. Come join Ralph and Charlena on their happy day.
A Family Affair
“I’m worried, Marceline. Ralph is a smart boy, but I wonder if he’s thought this through.”
“Gerald, our Ralph may be young, but he’s not a boy anymore. He’s a young man, and a smart one at that. I agree this seems like a risky decision on his part, but he loves the girl, and Charlena is lovely. You remember, don’t you, we took a risk too, and our parents were concerned, but haven’t we been perfectly happy all these years?”
“Of course, my pet. But ours was a different situation. Our parents were hesitant to give us their blessing just because we were young. But our Ralph and this girl? She is so different from every other young lady he’s been involved with. And her parents? We have absolutely nothing in common with them, and yet, we’re all going to be in the same family.”
“Gerald, I can’t believe what I’m hearing. I never in my entire life thought that you were that kind.”
“You know what I mean. The kind that looks down on others. Yes, they’re different from us, and they come from a different part of the world and a completely different culture, but that doesn’t mean they’re beneath us socially.”
“Oh my goodness, Marceline. You know me better than that. Of course, they’re not beneath us socially. It’s just that their ways are different from ours, and I’m wondering how we will all adjust to each other.”
“Things have a way of working themselves out, Gerald. The children love each other, and we love our son and they love their daughter. If those two can adjust to each other, so can all of us. Now, Grandpa Roman, he’s a whole other issue. He’s having a hard time with this wedding, and that’s why I included him in it. He seems a bit more open to the idea now.”
“That was a good idea, Marceline. You know my grandfather. He always feels left out of things, and when he feels that way, he’s against whatever the event is. But being directly in the wedding, he’ll be the first one to toast the couple.”
“I’m glad my other idea worked so well too. Charlena’s mom, Rachelle, was beside herself with all the planning, and my volunteering to help lessened the tension between us.”
“I hope they know what a good man our Ralph is.”
“They know, Gerald. It’s just they also look at us and see a different culture, but they’re making an effort and we should too. Oh, look at the time. We’ve got to go. We can’t be late for our son’s wedding. I just need to gather up the somethings I promised to bring. Rachelle really appreciated my taking that over.”
“Marceline, you decided not to follow tradition?”
“I thought I’d be different. I discussed it with Rachelle, and she loved what I planned.”
“Great. Let’s head over to the hall. Why are you crying?”
“My baby’s getting married today.”
“I know, dear. He’s my baby too.”
“Hi, Rachelle and Jack. Ready for a wedding?”
“Hi, Marceline and Gerald. I can’t believe our kids are all grown up and going on their own. You two have been so gracious about this whole situation., I know how hard it’s been for you to get used to us.”
“Rachelle, we’ve all had to adjust. We’ll find a way to get along, as long as we remember that we’re all one family now.”
“True. We need to take care of each other. So, tell me about your somethings. Tradition is the bride wears the somethings, but I like your take on it much more. We’ll make this our family’s new tradition.”
“Excellent idea, Rachelle. I thought my somethings would go nicely up front: two next to your daughter and two next to our son. First, we have something old, and that’s Grandpa Roman. He’s Gerald’s grandfather, and no one knows how old he really is. He’s literally been around forever. Next, we have something new. She’s a young hitchhiker Gerald picked up this morning, so she’s quite fresh. We’ve kept her bound and gagged so our neighbors wouldn’t be bothered. We can all share her at the reception as part of our meal.”
“Yummy. Who’s next?”
“We have something borrowed. That was a challenge, but I think I made the perfect choice. My Uncle Frederick keeps a young man that he uses as a midnight snack. Uncle Freddy said we could borrow him for a couple of hours, but I need to bring him right home after the ceremony.”
“I understand completely. And the last something?”
“Something blue. We’ll have to get photos quickly of that one. Gerald snatched him from the city morgue’s freezer, and his cheeks and hands are a lovely aquamarine. We’ve kept him in our home deep freeze, but it’s warm in here so he probably will thaw soon and lose his color.”
“Does he have to be returned too?”
“No, but we have no use for the dead, so you and yours are welcome to him.”
“You’re a peach, Marceline. Let’s start the music and get this wedding going.”
“Your daughter is so lovely, Rachelle. When she turns, I’ll bet she keeps that delicate look.”
“She does, Marceline. Even her fangs are long and slender. Your son, Ralph, is so handsome. Does he spend much of the day in his coffin?”
“Not much. We’re weaker in the daylight, but the sun does no damage.”
“Wonderful. All is in place, and here comes Charlena with her dad. I’m going to cry, Marceline.”
“Me too, Rachelle.”
“We are gathered here this evening to join together these two young people in marriage. It warms my cold heart to see a vamp and a lycan begin their lives together. After the reception, we should all go on a hunt. Half the town is in the square tonight for a concert, and that should make for quite a nice dessert buffet…”