Sunday, July 31, 2011

Magpie Tales 76 - Wheel Of Fortune - Flash Fiction

Prompt: Magpie Tales, Mag76
Image: Skip Hunt
Carla noticed it as she stepped out of her dust covered BMW. A galvanized steel lean-to, decorated with someone's idea of sculpture; either a sun, a flower, or a windmill. She mentally compared it to the tasteful marble statue garden on her own property, with surrounding gardens carefully designed by an award-winning landscaper, and shook her head. Pathetic, how some people lived.

The family was just as she expected, unkempt and uneducated beyond belief. Two barefoot raggedy children straight out of The Waltons slunk about the overgrown front yard. Carla was convinced she'd need new crowns after grinding her teeth for two hours, trying to explain the foreclosure paperwork. When offered iced tea, she politely refused, assuming that the glass was probably filthy and the tea made with local well water.

Hell, they didn't even have the brains to be upset. The man sat there, his sunburned beefy arms draped across the table, reaching out occasionally to scratch the ears of the doleful hound beside him. His wife frowned and riffled through the papers, but seemed far more interested in the yelping offspring outside.

Desperate for a scrap of polite conversation before escaping, Carla asked about the artistic atrocity outside.

"Oh, that. Artie made it and gave it to me for our first anniversary. He's such a creative spirit", she replied, laying her hand over his for a moment.  "It was from an old windmill my brother tore down on his property a few years ago. He went in big for them solar things instead, but it didn't work out. Still, he's managin' to scrape by with a couple head of cattle and all. It'll be tight, but that's where we're goin' to stay till we get back on our feet. Ain't nothin' more important than family, Miss. Nothin'."

It took an hour for Carla to get home after taking a wrong turn and ending up even further out in the boonies. She kicked off her pumps and sat, sipping a glass of wine and tracing the contours of the crystal. She ran a critical eye over the furniture, the imported chandelier, the gorgeous oil paintings. She tried to remember if anyone had given her anything, if any one piece had any meaning. And she wondered where she would go, with no family and her own foreclosure papers lying on the marble counter top.

Sunday Snapshots - Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Plane Undergoing Restoration
Messerschmitt 262

Beechcraft T34 Mentor

Fairchild XNQ (T-31) the only one left in existence.

Jordan Motor car, not sure of the year. Gorgeous!

Ford GT. My next car. Maybe.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday Sample - Flash Fiction

Since I hope to "shop" some stories when finished, I won't post them. But presumably rough excerpts are OK. I hope to have this one completed, cleaned up and ready for my first Write1Sub1 goal Wednesday.

 Working title - "Thinking Inside the Box"

The clanging of the metal door should have grated on me, but it didn't. I was far more concerned with a simple question; what had I done to deserve imprisonment?

From the silence came an echo of my thoughts, in a soft Southern drawl.

"What are you in for?"

My answer was cut short by the sound of other muffled voices in the darkness. 

The helpful neighbor chimed in again. "Sounds like Dr. Gottlieb and friends. He's going to have a look inside your head, among other things. But don't worry - I have it on good authority that you won't feel a thing."

Somehow, I didn't feel any fear, even as the sound of rattling implements reached me in my metal tomb.

I seemed to be beyond feeling much of anything.

Comments, critique, etc. are all helpful and appreciated! (And if excerpts that leave you hanging make you bonkers, let me know that too!)

Also, Andy at My Poet Charm gave me an award. I stopped participating in/passing on blogger awards because I had difficulty singling out people to pass them on to and sometimes felt like I was inadvertently "playing favorites" or leaving people out.  Doesn't mean I don't appreciate it though, so thank you Andy! You might want to pay him a visit - he writes poetry and participates in Romantic Friday Writers.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Conclusion: The Seeds That Are Sown

This is the conclusion of a serial short story. To start at the beginning, click here .
The Seeds That Are Sown:  Part 7, Conclusion


The Clifton Cackler -                 We print what you should know.
Special Edition!!

Local Man Gets Mulched!
The Compost Heap Might Be the Best Place For Him

Clifton Heights- It was reported yesterday that Stephen J. Roberts, husband and "person of interest" in the investigation surrounding his wife Leia's death, was killed in a freak accident yesterday. Roberts, 42, apparently fell into a drunken stupor while visiting his wife's grave and was run over by a lawn mower. The newly hired cemetery caretaker, Julius Blake, told police that he had been mowing an overgrown area of the site and that he did not see Roberts' prostrate form until it was too late.

According to police, Blake was in a state of shock and had very little to say. No kidding! When you slice and dice a guy, it tends to make you a little less than talkative!

Results of toxicology reports will not be available for 2-3 weeks, but Leia Roberts' sister confirmed that Mr. Roberts had been doing quite a bit of "drinking and whoring" the past few days. Last time the Cackler checked, that wasn't one of the recognized stages of grieving! There have also been whispers in the hen house about abuse and such before Leia Roberts' sad and untimely demise. We at the Cackler have certainly seen some unbecoming behavior on the part of Roberts in the past, and his wife seemed to be awfully clumsy of late despite being a standout cheerleader during her years at Clifton Heights High School and varsity coach the past 10 years.

The couple had two children, ages 6 and 2. Both are now staying with Leia Roberts' sister Rina Gerhard pending a guardianship hearing.

Currently there are no charges pending against Julius Blake, and police confirm that the death will be probably be ruled an accident.

Mr. Blake states that he will continue with his job as cemetery caretaker. "I'm a very quiet, peaceful individual and the grounds are like a sanctuary to me. I feel that it's important for me to spend time there each day, cultivating serenity and beauty. I feel close to the spirits there."

Blake reportedly sold his only possession of value, his mother's diamond ring, and used the money to set up a trust fund for the Roberts children, saying "Mother wanted me to give it as an engagement ring one day, but I'll never marry."

And in one last happy twist of fate, Blake found and returned the Roberts' family dog, which had apparently run away over a month ago.

"Perhaps the spirits guided him back to me, knowing that the children would need him," he said tearfully, hugging the German Shepherd.

We at the Cackler applaud Blake's dignity, strength, kindness and compassion in the midst of a terrible tragedy. Julius Blake, you truly are a flower on the compost heap of life!

Author's note: this is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people, places, events, or tabloids is unintentional. 

 I woke up this morning to find my email was compromised. Great. And the phishing has been since I started blogging. So I've removed contact info, etc. from my page for now. Sorry. You can still connect with me via my google profile.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Will Always Bring You Flowers - Pt 6 - Flash Fiction

To start at the beginning, click here .

The Seeds That Are Sown:  6

My lovely Leia,

I would give everything to place this letter in your hand and to undo the damage I have wrought. Instead I will burn it; the smoke and ashes containing the words, albeit changed, will rise and mingle with the atmosphere, rain down upon the fertile earth, and join you in the eternal cycle of life's renewal.

I am a coward and a killer. They are usually one and the same, are they not?  I should have had the strength to talk to you first, to make you understand that I was the one who could make you happy, who would have been loyal and committed to you even though I could not give you the shiny baubles upon which you built your sense of self worth. Instead I chose to hover in the shadows, paying out the rope that would guide you out of the labyrinthe and into my arms.

But we were both far too lost.

I am in agony, and I cannot live my life impaled on the knife of regret. I hope I can find it within me to carry out the final act.

And whether they are blossoms or words, thoughts or dreams, I will always bring you flowers.

This I promise.

Read Conclusion

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sunday Snapshots - WW2 Newspaper Clippings, UK

From my archives. Not the best resolution, but fairly readable.

A house in Croydon, UK which took a direct hit from a V-1.

Diagram of a V-1 (buzz bomb or doodlebug). Daily Mirror, June June 21, 1944. Price - one penny.

How to make do.
Chocolate has always been important for morale.

Couldn't resist;   Canadian and British soldiers cooling off at a rest camp.
The article below encourages women to go ahead and kiss lots of men - it's bad for their nerves and morale to sit at home pining for the man who's away.  (Daily Mirror, Aug 7 1944)

More terrible news. (Daily Express, May 25 1945)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

News Update - Flash Fiction

To read from the beginning, click here .

The Seeds That Are Sown:  5

Woman Drowns In Pool

Clifton Heights - A local woman's body was found dead in the pool at her home today. Leia Roberts, 37, was discovered by her husband, Stephen J. Roberts,42, floating in the deep end of the family's swimming pool at the family residence on 34 Ivy Court early this morning. Roberts told police that he attempted to resuscitate her until paramedic units arrived but to no avail. The county coroner pronounced her dead at 6:42 AM.
Police are investigating.

Author's Reminder:  the above is a work of fiction. All names, places and events are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or places is entirely coincidental.

Read part 6

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Have Sent You A Package - Flash Fiction

To start reading from the beginning, click here .

The Seeds That Are Sown:  4

I have sent you a package, my nightmares made concrete, a time capsule of human ugliness.

You still have your own, I imagine, a yearbook filled with memories, best wishes, and shared jokes. Hopes and dreams for the future. Mine was pristine and birthed from the same presses as yours. In my pathetic and loathsome weakness, I too went about asking for people to write something. Anything. It was my fond hope that they would put their well honed skills of deceit to charitable use and say something nice.

But it was stolen, and passed around, and defaced in the most shameful ways imaginable. Go on, read it. Study every filthy comment, every vile expletive; admire the pains they took to alter or destroy the pictures, particularly mine.

You chose to write - nothing. Should I be grateful that you didn't give in to baser instincts? Or, rather, wonder if you simply didn't get the opportunity to add your own drop of fuel to the fire? Perhaps I was so insignificant, so inconsequential, that you could not be bothered to sully your consciousness with my existence.

And still I love you, because you have been damaged by the same societal strictures which held me captive. To fit in, to follow the leaders, to stay in the middle of the herd so as not to be picked off by the jackals which haunt the lame and the dying; these were the rules which you lived by. I think you still do.

Unfortunately, it is only death which will free you.

I have lived my life as a coward, beaten down beyond all recognition. But I am summoning the courage to take us both beyond all of this pain.

I am coming for you. Watch, and wait.

Read Part 5

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Snapshots - Baby It's Cold Out There

Since much of the US is suffering under extraordinary heat, I thought I'd cool you off with a few snaps from winters gone by.

Dude, Where's My Car?

Nothing will keep us from shopping.

Neighbor helping neighbor; the community comes together.
(A scanned photo clipped from the local newspaper. Not sure if that's a copyright violation?)

Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Saw Your Ad in the Paper - Flash Fiction

The Seeds That Are Sown:  3

I saw your ad in the paper, you know, the one about your missing dog. You'd just gotten him the other day. What a shame. He looked to be a big brute; certainly not safe around your children. Besides, you left him tied up outside, and that's no way to treat a dog. Or a person. I'll bet you wouldn't like that, would you, to be tied up in a confined space with a choke collar around that slim white neck of yours.

Maybe your nice doggie is in a better place right now.

And if the kiddies miss him, well maybe it's best they learn now that the things which we love have a nasty habit of disappearing into thin air.

Read Part 4

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Have Sent You A Picture - Flash Fiction

(If you haven't read part one, go here .)

The Seeds That Are Sown:  2

My Little Lost Lamb,

You threw my flowers away. At first I was hurt, and angry - very angry.  But then I realized my mistake. You couldn't possibly keep them, could you?  After all, you are married, and things would not go well with you, getting flowers from a secret admirer. There would be a scene, no doubt. Shouting. Accusations. Who knows, he might even strike you. He looks like the type.

Pain can be beautiful but only when dealt by loving hands.

He does not love you. I have sent you a picture; do you see the woman he is smiling at? She is a co-worker, but they are also having an affair. You didn't know that, did you? He'll deny it, of course, if you ask. They are just "friends". And so, who will you believe?

I saw you block me, and then unblock me yesterday. You could not make up your mind what to do. Perhaps you realize that I only have your best interests at heart, and that there is a chance we belong together. Or maybe you are stupid enough to try and trace me? There are many other ways to communicate, of course. I will show you.

I have so many things to show you.

Read Part 3

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Have Sent You Flowers - Flash Fiction

The Seeds That Are Sown: 1


You probably don't remember me, but I have been thinking about you. Even more since the class reunion notice came in the mail.

I saw you again just the other day, and you were even more strikingly beautiful than when we first met, all those years ago. Perhaps you will recall that day, but I doubt it. In fact I'd stake my very life on it.

It looks like you have done well for yourself! Expensive clothes suit you, and as you passed by a faint wisp of fragrance curled about me, and I couldn't help but breathe you in. Delicious, although not quite what I would have chosen. I wanted to reach out and touch you, say hello, but I know how you enjoy a little romance, so I thought I would send you a letter and flowers instead. I remember how you adored orchids, and I hope that you still do! They are so delicate looking, so fragile, living on air as you sometimes seemed to do.

I'll bet your children are gorgeous, even though I've never seen them. I'm guessing at least two, right? A little boy and a newborn. You must rattle around in that big house of yours in Highland Court. Maybe that's why you need a little something to take the edge off once in a while. Strictly pharma for you though. You would never drink; that's for the low class. And you wouldn't want to put any weight onto that body that you carefully sculpt at the fitness club every Tuesday and Thursday night.

Unlike mine, which was never much to begin with. But you let me know that time and again. Pimply faced geek and all.

Most of the time you treated me like I was invisible and I was grateful, for that was better than being humiliated time and again. I have now perfected the art of being invisible, which is why you walked past me the other day and looked right through me. Or maybe it was the clerk's uniform that I was wearing.

I care about you, and so you should be more careful with all of those loyalty cards on your key fob. They give a lot away.

Our class reunion is in a few months, and I sort of dreamed that we would see each other there, and that you would be alone and we would talk and get to know each other and maybe even dance. I so want to hold you in my arms, just once.

Since I cannot wait, I am going to arrange a little reunion of our own, just the two of us, very soon.

And then there will be flowers.


Read Part 2

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Snapshots - Polo

Unfortunately, Prince William had another game on this weekend, or I'm sure he would have stopped by to play with our local team. (These were taken at one of last year's games. Today's pics didn't come out very well.)

Both Lancaster and Cowtown polo clubs participate in the Work To Ride program, which provides at-risk youth with opportunities to participate in activities that promote leadership, self-esteem and community involvement.

Hope you're all having an equally gorgeous and sunny summer weekend.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Hardest Thing - Romantic Friday Writers

Forgiven-Challenge 9 of the Romantic Friday Writers
Click here to read more or join.

She used to love that face. The blonde hair, green eyes alive with mischief, nose with just the slightest bump in the middle. A visage that played with light and shadow, mobile and expressive. Now she viewed it with nothing but veiled loathing.

You are an insignificant nothing. I hate you for being so weak, so easily deceived, so arrogant in your constant assumption that everything will be alright. You fool.

Sighing, she looked down at her hands and said nothing for the moment. If she expected a reply, she got none. The letter she'd found only days ago, the one from his lover, the one he'd had stuffed in his top drawer, lay in a crumpled wad at her feet. He'd apologized, of course, as he always did, taking her in his arms even as she struggled against him. His lying lips had still been flapping away as she tossed his belongings down the stairwell.

She took a deep breath.

I forgive you, she whispered, looking at her own face in the mirror and smoothing a strand of blonde hair behind an ear. Sparkling green eyes, yes, shimmering with tears this time, but it would not always be this way. The long road to recovery had finally begun.

Feeling the romance? Join or read more here

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A SLAP On the Shoulder

So the results are in; I have a superior labral anterior/posterior tear with adhesion encapsulation. Yay. Anything superior must be good.

It's a tear which hasn't healed in the shoulder. Inflammation and reluctance to use the arm caused the entire shoulder structure to shrink/adhere, freezing it in place like a rusty machine part.

Prognosis: the tear will be given 6 weeks to heal on its own. If it doesn't, surgery. In the meantime, Prednisone (a steroid) to knock out inflammation and targeted physical therapy to stretch/break up the adhesions. Yes, it's painful. And frustrating. But it's not life-threatening, so I won't wring my hands over it.

I want to thank all of you for the messages, prayers, wishes, healing vibes and warm thoughts sent my way. I appreciate them more than you know.

In those long, dark hours before dawn it helps to know that all of you are out there, somewhere. And that somebody cares. :))

Y'all are the best.   


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tunnel Visions

     "The door should have been a dead giveaway. At least six feet wide, solid looking, with a foot-long lever instead of a knob, it could only have been built to keep intruders out - or something deadly within. Muffled throbs, clanks and mechanical whirs slipped through the interstices while the thump whoosh thump whoosh of a mechanistic heartbeat made the very air reverberate."

File:2009 niams oai hi.jpg

And that's as far as I got in writing a horror story the other evening. I had it all mapped out, but then a funny thing happened. Literally. Everything just became too funny. I was generating the story while sitting in my cubby waiting for the MRI. They had given me one of those gowns, neglecting the small fact that I have a shoulder injury and couldn't reach behind my back to tie the damned thing. I was supposed to come out when I was done. So I waited. No one came to get me, and I wondered how long I'd be there until someone checked. Maybe they'd forget me and I'd be locked in the building all night. Would that be bad? There was a TV and coffee machine in the waiting room. Probably an employee lounge with snacks too, if I could find it. Eventually, I clutched the gown with one hand and poked my head out of the cubby. The orderly, of course, had to be a guy.

"Ummm, could you tie this for me?" I asked, blushing. Why is it that I can walk on the beach in a bikini with impunity, but asking a guy to tie a garment with all of the sex appeal of a shroud makes me cringe with embarrassment? Beside, I still had my jeans on. Sans belt, of course; no belt buckles allowed. I asked about the metal snaps and zipper.

"Nah, it's OK. You might feel a little pull, but I doubt it."

I had visions of my nether regions being unceremoniously lifted and fastened to the interior of the tunnel.

I answered the usual questions about pacemakers, piercings, body art, metal plates and screws. Had I ever worked as a machinist or been subjected to metal dust, grindings, or gotten any metal particles in my eyes.

Presumably, said metal shavings might be sucked out of my body or eyeballs by the magnet. I frantically tried to remember if I'd ever swallowed any coins as a child and whether or not they might still be in my intestinal tract somewhere. I wondered if Mom would remember. Should I call? Or take my chances?

He asked me twice while strapping me in if I felt scared or nauseous. I didn't. But now I started to wonder if people did that sort of thing. Did they freak out? Have complete meltdowns? Throw up? Wet themselves? I hope they sterilize these things between patients. Is there good air flow? What if the person ahead of me farted? What if I have to go to the bathroom halfway through?

(Do you see how it became impossible to maintain the proper mind set for a horror story?)

They offered me music. I looked over the selection; 60s, 70s pop, Sinatra, Elvis, country, jazz, Top 40, UK pop (I didn't know that was a "type") Best of the 90s (surely that was an endless repetition of the same 5 songs) and rap hip/hop. I elected to forgo music entirely, as the thought of being trapped motionless in a metal tube and being subjected to a bad song was worse than the fear of noise a mere imaging machine could produce.

The MRI generates a magnetic field 60,000x as intense as the earth's, causing the hydrogen atoms in the body to vibrate and emit radio waves which are then used to produce images of your tissues and organs. One would think that with all of that going on, one would certainly feel something. One would be wrong. It was actually a very comfortable experience for me. The table and pillow were comfy, there was a nice cushion under my knees, I was swaddled with towels and sandbags, and although the tunnel probably seems a little confining to some (it looked to be about 9 inches from my face) I found it very cozy. Even the cooling pump had a soothing rhythym to it.

And so, instead of thinking and reflecting, I...err...dozed off. Had it not been for the attendant checking me every 5 minutes, I would have had a lovely nap.

So, I got nothing written. But I might just tuck that opening away for a rainy day.

Thanks for all of your warm wishes, thoughts, prayers, and comments. I'll get a report from the orthopedic surgeon next week and we'll see what's what. Happy July 4th holiday to my US friends. :)

(I've typed very few comments but have been around to a total of 67 blogs today, so don't think for a minute that I don't know what you've been up to.)