Category Archives: Food

The Black Cat Blue Sea Award

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blackcat

Haven’t done one of these in quite awhile. I was nominated by Grace on her blog: The Life of a Teenage Princess. Thanks, Grace. What’s fun about her blog is seeing life through a different lens. I “think” i’m a little bit older than she, but I’ve been enjoying her passage and writing passions. Give her a look when you can.

What is

The Black Cat Blue Sea Award?

This award is for bloggers who strive to write for everybody, and no matter how many viewers they get, make an impact on a reader. This award is an expression of gratitude to the nominee. It should be awarded to anybody that you choose deserves it, and it doesn’t mean that they must have hundreds of followers and likes.

The Rules:

Anybody nominated can nominate seven (lucky number) other bloggers. Anybody nominated answers three questions.The questions you ask while nominating can be any three questions.

If any of the questions asked are offending or the nominee simply does not want to answer them, the nominee does not have to answer them to earn the award.

Grace’s Three Questions:

  1. If you could choose anywhere to go (with no expense in mind) to have the perfect day, where would you go, and what would you do?  Scotland. There is something about Scotland that has a huge draw on me. I feel I NEED to be there.  I’d go to Edinburgh first. Then, castles, moors, theater, music, and I’d try to find the non-touristy spots to explore. 
  2. What literary character from The Princess Bride would most likely reflect your personality?  Hm. I have never thought of a connection to any of the characters.  This is a movie I do love. Hmm. I’d say, at this moment, Miracle Max (Billy Crystal). “Have fun storming the castle.” Yeah, that character. 
  3. What is one thing you have discovered about yourself during Quarantine? I am more introverted than I had thought. No problem navigating my apartment. Plenty of Zoom, calls, texts, books, and writing.  I miss hugs, cuddles, and other human contact (get yer mind(s) out of the gutter) more than I thought I could want as much. 

My Seven Samurai Picks: 

There’s enough going on for many that this could be that ONE MORE THING!  So, if you are so inclined, go for it.  You can link this back to Tale Spinning, or not. I’d love to read your responses. Just answer my three questions (below). Cop out? Maybe, but I have a lot to get done before 4:30 (two hours from now. My apologies). If you feel you fit the criteria, go for it.

My Three Questions

  1. If you have had an epiphany that has changed/challenged/strengthened your life journey, could you please state what it was and its consequences?

  2.  What is your favorite food DISH, not the general “Italian,” Chinese,” “Mexican,” etc. What is the dish called?  Extra bonus points if you can paint a detailed picture for us so we all drool when we read it. Not the recipe, how you feel when it is set before you and when you take your first bite.

  3. What does your idea of Utopia look/sound/touch/taste like?

HELEDAVAR WAS MIFFED

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Heledavar dropped off the branch, landing feet first on the moss. She’d had an uneventful night in the tree, no visit from the Mlkh of the Beautiful NightMare. It was not the first time Heledavar was left with a barren sleep. She was miffed, ready to take it out on her brother, Haladavar, Wood Elf style. Heledavar reached up, grabbed a low hanging branch, and pulled. It tore off the tree, no more effort than to step on a cadaverous bug.  Heledavar thought a prayer to the tree.

It was a Tarn’s bottom to be the only femwaif in a family of Tree Elf glutoffs.

She took to dashing behind and between trees, hoping that Hal was still was captive in the dream world. She reached his spot and stopped.  Heledavar’s miffed turned quickly into peeved. Instead of her brother laid out on his favorite bed of rubble stones, Hal left a “note” on the center stone.  It was spelled out with smaller rocks: “gone adven bi. “ An adventure? The glutoff! Heledavar stormed off.

As the action of Hal kept repeating inside her, Heledavar elevated her peeved to one of extreme vexation. She swore in High Wood Elf, her mixture of curses brimming to the surface. Her mismatched eyes bulged out. Vexation to fury, with ease.

She had lived through this five -no, six- times before. All of her siblings: “gone bi.” Until this last darkness, the dark became less dark. Then, only Haladavar and Heledavar remained. Now, Heledavar, alone. Hal left her to tend to their rotten, miserable, ungrateful parents. Their Her parents and their “haute couture” shrubbery and mulch mini-farm. Neither she nor any of her brothers had any intention to take over the family business: The Aralavaris Botanical and Breakfast Hut.

They all went “gone” the same way. They’d reach a specific tree span, and before anyone could say “Zarn Knows Little,” the darkness welcomed them. Each of them cringed once their parents went to bed. To a sibling, they learned where to sleep outside, reducing the horrible noise. The snoring was deafening. A Green Dragon could tear up all the trees outside, set fire to the shrubbery, roaring its terrible roar, and gnashing its terrible teeth. No matter. When they went to bed, they went to bed, snoring through the darkness.  She knew the Green Dragon’s frenzy because that scenario had happened. Three times. No. Four? Yes, four times.

She mumbled through gritted teeth: “those glutoffs! Moronic glutoffs! Feted glutoffs!”

Heledavar raised both hands, clenched in rock breaking fists. She boxed the air above her head, screaming to the puce heavens above. Heledavar stopped her tantrum as quickly as it started. The last time she let loose was the time the previous Green Dragon came forth.

Her ill feelings shifted, rising from peeved to quite vexed.

She approached the hut they had all shared. The snoring cut through the rotting wood paneling, shored up by their “best” shrubbery. Snoring. Near endless snoring. Momentous snoring! Apocalyptic noise that would be the end of her if she did not leave. As all the others did. She thought about patricide and matricide for an Ogre’s hair breath, but she just shook her massive head. Heledavar snuck inside, grabbing the clothing and few items that were hers, shoving them into a bag.  

Heledavar also helped herself to half the armory in the hut. Twelve throwing crescents, eleven Smoke Eaters, ten silver-rimmed stakes, enough knives to hide around her body, her bow with two quivers of arrows, and, finally, her mother’s Great Sword. Her pride, her treasure, the sword she named “Zweihänder, The Death That Comes.” When her mother, The Zoupah, took out her eight hand-sized, double-edged straight blade, her opponents knew it was already too late for them. Bladders were voided. Most ran. They still voided.

During those times, her father stayed at the hut, watching over his bushes.

It was Heledavar’s time.  Before she set out, Heledavar raided the kitchen. Food for the road. Satisfied with all the meats and treats she liked, Heledavar skulked out of the hut.  Heledavar went to Hal’s favorite conk-out spot. She added a smeared smattering of broken slab over Hal’s message: “H to bi.” It served its purpose. As she walked away, grease dripped down her chin from the roasted Shaitan she spirited away.

At High Not Dark, Heledavar stopped on the rocky path she strode along. The ground trembled from the aftershocks of the snoring. Rocks rolled. Saplings unrooted themselves. The oldest, largest trees felt their leaves tumble away. Even this far away, the snoring would not let her leave. Heledavar’s vexation catapulted to rage. Heledavar held up her left fist, the right trying not to lose the fatty shank. She steadied the shank by sinking her teeth into the next to last deep mass of meat. Heledavar was free to hold up her smallest finger.  Heledavar leaned her head back, a gargling noise spilling out of her mouth, and shot down. She spat out all that she had held back. Bile mixed with the saliva ejected seventeen times. Each one a burial for the last seventeen cycles that were her life.

Heledavar turned her back on the direction of the AB&BH, remaining in place. From stillness to a howling wind, Heledavar closed her right eye, whirled four times to the known winds, then four times back again. She repeated that dance three more times, at last planting her feet solid on the path. She said her name for the last time. “Heledavar.” Her past and the name that held roots were discarded. Hele, now, opened her eye, continuing on the pitted path before her.

She only looked back three times before the hut, at long last, fell away.

Or, was it Hele’s fourth time she looked back? Fifth?

She pondered that for a long while walking. The darkness and the less dark filled in the spaces to the next day.

The Dingo Ate My Awe

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Dingo

THE DINGO ATE MY AWE

Lindy wailed heartache.

It was relentless, staining the air around the five of us. A friend had called into AFP dispatch, and me mates and I took the plunge. Dust was everywhere until it turned to gravel, and then rocks of increasing dimensions. An hour before dusk, we arrived at the hysterics. Even through closed windows, Lindy’s banshee keening shook me teeth. Brutal.

Her hubs, Michael, took me to the demolished campsite. We lifted the tent together, dripping from the bloody heat. Told Michael we were now sweat brothers. I laughed at me own stupid joke.  Stopped real quick; the poor sod was dripping tears and snot. “There, there” did not seem appropriate. I dug in me pocket, found the wad of Kleenex the Mrs. always shoved in my pants pocket after pressing. I tossed it to him. He wasn’t ready.

The wind had been picking up; Rod said it smelled of rain when we first got here. Just what we bloody needed. The dry chinook rolled around us. The wad of Kleenex gave up five to the wind. They flew around us like a cat burying shit. A strong gust and the rest joined their brethren. Gymnastics, in white.  It was like that bloody scene in that bloody boring movie. The one they spent so much time filming a plastic bag spinning. Bloody Drongo director.

Tent up, the blood was in little puddles around the floor. Sticky. Bedsheets, what was an onesie, all in shreds. I took pictures, asked me questions, the big one went unanswered: “why weren’t either bleeding one of you with the babe?” Now, I know many think coppers are all galah. Hell, many of them do have their heads up their arses. Mikey just hung his head, shook it around, and stayed quiet. No resistance as I cuffed him. Good. We walked back to the others.

Rod and Franny put both of them in the back of the wagon. Lindy was sobbing a creek, her hands equally cuffed. Michael turned his head away from her. Never said a word to her. He didn’t yell, didn’t plead, nothing. His silence was death; she roared out the Death Kneel.

I closed Michael’s door, making double sure he was locked tight. Franny had tried to talk the mum down. No luck. Fran locked the door, cutting the volume in half. I was getting the start of a headache. Didn’t need that at all with the long drive back.

The three of us moved away from them. We had a talk and a drag. Not Rod. Not a smoker, but can he put down the pints. We shared what info we had, scribbled note sunder the growing night; the sun began to fade away. Time to get back to the car and get out of here.

Typical sounds of central Oz pushed us along. I was more than ready to get home.

“A dingo? Really? A bloody dingo?” I could not believe this, shaking my head. “We got a ripe one,” I told the two.  “Dingos were vicious fucks, but…”

“Oi, where the hell did those growls come from?” Rod uttered. Last thing he ever said.

Three beasts ran toward him, lunging as one. Dingos. Bloody huge fucking Dingos. They ripped him apart. Legs. Chest. Head.  Only an instant. The hot blood flew everywhere. My mouth was hanging open, brain fritzing as I pulled out my handgun.

Franny screeched, wanting to help Rod, wanting to run. She did the Cha Cha of indecision, bolstered by the horror of it all.  She had enough to go for her handgun, but she fumbled it. Just as she bent to get her gun, I saw what was coming behind her. I started to warn Fran.

Too late. Words were taken by the massacre.

I fired at the two monsters who took Franny down. My gun was essentially useless. Their massive sizes. Tigers in Dingo attire. There was nothing I could do. I ran to the car.

As I got closer, I noticed both Michael and Lindy. They were staring at me with bulging eyes, their mouths moving in overdrive. Lindy looked off to the right side of me. Her throat cords straining to break free. Looking over my shoulder, one of the five, or maybe this was a visiting cousin who was late to the party, was lopping at its dinner. Me. I saw it coming; it leaped.

And I dropped to the dirt. Rolling on my back, I fired the rest of my gun as the Dinger went flying over. First one went through the bottom of its jaw. The rest went into beast’s underside.

It screeched as fell, the earth taking its own bite out of the beast.

I dashed for the car.

Now, I almost fumbled the car keys like Franny did with her gun. Almost. I dove in, starting her up, put it into gear, and floored the peddle. One beastie came at me head-on. I downshifted, speeding for his ugly snout. It was bumpy for a sec, but I hit him hard enough. He spun away. Didn’t look to see if he bit the dust or not. “HaH!” I laughed at myself again.

Next moment we got tag teamed, ramming into the back right. The door bent in a bit from one; the window cracked into a mosaic but held. Michael was the one caterwauling now. Lindy was out. Blood streaks on her side, her head lolled.

Nothing I could except ram my foot so hard on the gas pedal. The pistons had to keep up with me.

They weren’t chasing us. Not after the two head-butted the car. The radio still worked. I just needed time to stop hyperventilating. And calm the jackhammer ruling my heart. Finally did. Gave the short version just before I was purged of any ounce of adrenaline.

The AFP had the location. They called in the big yahoos to take care of the demon Dingos. Good luck to them. All I wanted was to drop the two in the back off, give a thorough but quick retelling, and beat a hasty retreat home. I could do the paperwork at home. My say so. Chief took it ok. She wanted to send me to the med, but I declined. Pretty firmly, too.

When I got home my wife took one look at me and came in for a hug before I closed the front door. She wouldn’t let me go. I didn’t want to be let go. My aroma broke the spell. She shooed me upstairs for a cleanup. Fresh clothing waited on our bed, everything warm from a pressing.

Feeling somewhat proper, I went down to kiss that woman with all I had. Two steps before the bottom, I felt something in my pants pocket. I patted the wad under the fabric and hit the floor landing for that kiss.

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

Author’s Note:

I organized a new Writers Group: DAYDREAMERS WRITE!: Prompts & Challenges.

  • It runs every Saturday morning from 10:00 am to Noon, EST. 
  •      No matter the level a writer you think you are, all are welcome. 

The two hours are split:

  1. 10 to 11 is the first prompt.

  2. At Eleven: Another prompt WITH a challenge. It changes every week. 

  3. Both Sessions: 25 mins to write;  30-35 mins for Sharing & feedback

Most likely this group will remain in the Virtual World Community. 

Click on the above link if you would like to join in. Everyone is welcome. 

Stu

The above story was from a prompt: The _____ ate my ______

I used an Animal Generator for the first blank; A different one that gave me Awe.

 

HUZZAH!

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Amanda-Palmer_Photo-By-Kahn-and-Selesnick_1

Amanda Palmer © Photo-By-Kahn-and-Selesnick_1

HUZZAH!

by Stuart H. Nager ©

What is unknown appears known; of this, I am uncertain. Perchance beguiled, for last I knew I was there but, alas, here I be. This path through trees lacks familiarity, copses gnarled but tidy. A hedge I found to assist my invisibility, a vantage point to confuse me further.

So many passed by, speaking in words yet understood. I scent of fresh hops filled the air, roasted meats, and the stale sweat produced by the heat of the day. This was familiar, but the rest? Skin hues, the variances of body types, the way they laughed, swore, or what I took as such, were a jumble only experienced in the largest of gathering towns and cities.

Swords! In the distance, a clang of swords. Blade upon blade, the shrieking of steel. Cheers, mirth, sad wails erupt from that direction. As one, what I glean to be a crowd, yells, “Huzzah. Huzzah. Huzzah!”

I am undone.

My feet lead me away from the hedge, into the ebullient throngs. My spirits lift somewhat, having spirited away a mug of foul ale. Yet, I quaff to a drop as the mug refills. Foul but fair, I merrily wander to explore my thoughts and this strange happenstance.

The lasses are comely; the lads as well. Their states of modesty thrown to the wind. Music is precise. I join in the dances encountered, elevating the pleasures of all who participate. Some of the cavorting was of my accord. More of the repellant beer made its way into my hands and down my gullet. I skip off to find what I shall find. A need for the small forest calls.

Ho! A pair of churlish ruffians. Drunk, their lazy attempts to lay hands upon a lass are buffeted away. Yet still, they take no heed. She, red-headed and fair, yells with no results for assistance. Ah, this language is beginning to open. Help she will have. Swifter than an arrow, I am beside her.

Drolly, I smite the louts with my sharpened wit, enough so that their desires for the pretty turn to anger towards myself. I lead them on a merry chase, up and down, forward and back, until the befuddled duo collapse into heaps. Thanking them for this escapade, I return to the lasses.

She of red hair awaited my return, mischief in her eyes that complimented my own. She takes my hand as we become unseen behind a large oak. Their language is becoming more explicit still.

“Huzzah!” fills the air throughout.

~~~   ~~~   ~~~   ~~~

Sunlight is fading, and I still find myself here. Megan of the red hair has left, alas, alas, alas, with friends dragging her away. She made a promise. Surprisingly, I gave one in return. Yet, the day has passed, more sweet beer drowning melancholy away.

Something has been pulling me throughout the day, drawing me further. Except for my Lord, I am nobody’s plaything. It was easy to turn this away with the ethereal emissions of the masses. Now, so few remain. This “Ren Faire,” as Megan related, closed down at true nightfall.

I give in to the call.

I have reached a series of small but fierce pavilions. Each draped with runes, gemstones, carvings, feathers, and lace, enveloped in candle glow. I walk down the lane, peering into each. Women, swathed in rich earth tones, turn their heads away as I come upon them. Except, this one ahead.

She is waiting for me, knowledge in her eyes.

I know her as well.

“Sprite,” she warbles, her withered countenance neither friend nor foe.

“Crone,” adding a shallow bow to her presence.

“Inside.” She hesitates. “Please.”

I follow. She deigns to sit on a wooden stool while I stand, examining her craft. The damask cloth covering her centerpiece table is of the highest quality, the colors swirling as they lay in place. I would say hypnotic, laying down such schemes myself.

“He was angry with you. Anger festered for a long while. The King almost commenced a Wild Hunt. My Mistress lured him to her bower. No Wild Hunt was issued. It was she who moved you here.”

“I see,” thank you, My Queen, for this gift. “I still owe him my fealty.”

“No, you do not. The King has withdrawn any compulsion over you. Residing as far away, and as long, as the Queen and King have, He has no need of you. Anymore.”

This news. I never wished for it. Yet, I surprise even myself at times.

I glowed inside. It felt. Good.

“What will you do now, Robin?

The question was an excellent one. For the first time, I feel befuddled.

“I do not” was left unfinished. There was a tap on the pavilion frame behind me. I turned.

A vision appears before me. Be still, my aching.

What a glorious smile. She holds out her hand. Our eyes meet. Our hands join as one. Megan leads me away from the pavilion.

I hear the crone: “Mistress, what fool this Puck be!”

Could she not stay quiet?

Her cackles followed us as we left the faire.

Together.

Huzzah!

! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

This week, Shut Up & Write offered their monthly five-day challenge with the Prompt Theme of

Through a Stranger’s Eyes

Each day’s prompt was to give your character’s POV through their very first time at a specific place, meeting another, etc. No length restrictions. Any style of writing. Any genre.

I took on the challenge, even with the growing number of projects that I am involved with. If you’d like to read the five in order:

August 3rd:    First Impressions: Planet Earth    a twinkling defense

August 4th:    Holiday Study: Trick or Treat        Samhain

August 5th:    Extreme Sports                                 Lemmings to Slaughter

August 6th:    Modern Exercise                               Level

August 7th:     Big Events: Ren Faire                       Huzzah! (above)

 

COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME

 

a twinkling defense

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Icarus 2

a twinkling defense

schiller park illinois april 29 1930 may 2 1930

ǂ transliterate cosmostatic diffusion̚

‘tuesday’

promulgation ∞ entities on planet categorized earth

entire system commands met waiting full analysis observed events massive – mote largest sea floodgate earth holds no importance worldview□ⱷꭀ entities happy drunk undulating happens sound waves distortion connection island australian from britan no big woop entity colloquialism gurgle noise worth report crucial discovery new sustenance object observed ingestion most entities consumption accompanied wanting sound waves entities ‘face’ opens object inserted ‘chewing’ ensues object entirely consumed ‘smiles’ happen most consume second object wrapping left behind receptacle-stratum obtaining sample accomplished shell elastic absorbent probe inserted analysis incomplete mix chemical natural elements split object white substance found analysis ‘banana’ found firm liquid state substance absence adverse effects directive clear sample must undergo further analysis individual consumption commence order pressure seating activated appendage free pressure restraint commence individual consumption promptly

‘saturday’

observation unwise consuming twelve objects obtained earth ‘wednesday’ individual no knowledge next two earth ‘days’ individual came aware ‘saturday’ lifted off-ship entresol leakage unpleasant cleaning commences orders received return procedure engaged repository section full stasis field activated mission rated ﻌﻌﻌﻌ incident object consumption highly suggested leave behind individual rejects factory breached transferred entire factory repository ship full strong discipline expected individual justifies disregard tribunal consumes object two maximum deferring effects individual anticipates exaltations submitting object cosmos entities individual convinced object earth name ‘twinkie’ prove individual correct course pressure seating activated ship sets course engaged ‘twinkie’ consumption commences individual indulges

⸙‘earth’ phraseology glossary follows

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Author’s note:

I’ve tried this style a number of years ago. I got some good feedback/comments, then I dropped it like a  led zeppelin.

Then came I took a prompt challenge from Writer’s Digest:

Describe a normal, everyday object or activity from the perspective of a character who perceives it as a strange phenomenon they are struggling to understand. For example, your character might be an alien or a person from a different historical era trying to explain a smartphone. 500 words or less. 

Decoding the story above is both challenging and fun. Not just in my opinion.  A fellow challenge taker was joyful with breaking it all down.

Question(s) for you:

What grammar elements did I remove in the story?

Could YOU parse it at all? Somewhat? Piece of cake?

mmmmmm. Cake.

Comments and feedback are always welcome.

Thanks

 

The Essence Of

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Texting Block

Prompt: Write an Essential Character Trait: Put your thoughts in the comments: what are their essential character traits?

The Essence Of

 

Steve wanted to text Beth immediately after their first date. He sat in his car, going over every detail. Her long red hair. Beth’s yellow summer dress. The way her green eyes drew him in, peeking just above the mandatory face mask. Beth’s figure under that dress. The almost kiss. Sue’s coyness in blocking that.

“The virus,” she mentioned. Beth had gently pushed his hands down after he “accidentally” brushed her breasts. God, those breasts were on repeat in his mind at this point. He had been idling for a long time.

At full pitch arousal, Steve started his Volvo to head home. He had hummed for the entire seventy-two minutes on his drive home. Steve caught a glimpse of his face in the rearview mirror: the gleam from his pre-date dental routine made him grin that much more extensively. Killer smile he thought to his reflection.

Arriving home, Steve glided over the street to his front door. He slid the house key into the lock cylinder in a slow-motion movie style. Engaged, the turn of the key felt good. Very good.

Closing the door, Steve kicked off his Clark’s Oxfords. Unwinding the Paul Smith tie from his neck, Steve felt released. Off came the North & Mark Union blazer. He tossed both on the seat of the hallway chair. His delighted smile followed him as he slid Tom Cruise like across the polished floor.

Plopping on the couch, Steve pulled out his cell, checking the time. His mind was somersaulting. No text or voice mail from Beth. He waffled between texting now or later. Taking a deep breath in, Steve released the air as he thought: Just under two hours. Now’s good.  Yeah, that’s enough space.

Steve texted Beth. What a great time he had. How wonderful she is. Praised her eyes, hair, style. How much he couldn’t wait for their second date. Steve made sure they had concrete plans for a second date before Beth left. Date, time, and place: all secured. He finished the text with a repeat:

“I had a great time with you today. Getting to know you, to see you. I can’t wait for our first kiss.”

That got sent. Immediately followed by:

“See you next Sunday. 4:00 pm. I’m glad you liked the restaurant I chose. Food is great.”

Sent.

Followed by:

“You’re great. Wonderfully great. I’m over the moon that we hooked up.”

Steve sat on the couch, staring at his phone. His breathing went shallow while his left hand quivered. The day moved on; Steve did not. He had no idea why she hadn’t texted back. Beth always texted back within fifteen minutes or less as they did the dating dance. Tinder, of all places. Steve shook his head, the first external movement he controlled in the four hours, thirty-two minutes, and 29 seconds since he sent the last text.

A ding from the phone awakened his body. Beth texted! Steve began davening on the couch. His prayers; heard and answered. He opened the text.

“Hi, Steve. Yes, it was nice meeting you. Have a good night.”

Steve levitated off the couch and into the kitchen. He filled a glass of orange juice, topping it off with Vodka. Then another. He was giddy. Beth said that it was nice to meet him. She wished him a good night. Two more vodkas and OJ turned giddy into sloppy.

In the morning, Steve found himself on the kitchen floor. The cell phone still in his hand.

Before he got up from the floor, he texted Beth.

Unintended Consequences

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castle consequence

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

7c293f567878d204f3613fb0926af1b4--illuminated-letters-illuminated-manuscriptnce upon a time there was a household in turmoil. One sister, one brother, and a widow who had lost the will to keep her children proper. Her husband left her with the debt of the home and the banes of her life.

illustrated Every day the siblings fought, cursed, threw fragile items at each other, stole what they could and sold those items. They wound up at the village pub drinking until oblivion took them both.

illustrated But one day the widow unexpectedly left, never to return. By the end of the first week they tore through the makings of their home. What they couldn’t sell, they bartered. They ate, drank, and took care of their baser needs.

illustrated Because of that they soon ran out of money. The sister and brother had to vacate, unable to pay the house debt. With little more than a bag of clothing each, they set off in opposite directions. The sister vowed to never to see her brother again. He felt the same.

illustrated Because of that as they traveled, taking whatever work they could find. Without the sense to save what they could, the sister and brother would find themselves penniless soon after receiving pay. What wasn’t spent on food and alcohol went to gambling. Outside of the comfort and safety of the village they grew up left them adrift. Often robbed, both suffered beatings, and sometimes worse.

illiustrated Until finally, many months later, each sibling took root in a haven. Broken to their cores by this time, they each had the chance to rebuild their lives. Both found themselves welcomed and absorbed into the communities they now called home.

illustrated E coloredver since then each found acceptance, and love, in their ways. They kept their vows: they never saw each other ever again. As to the widow, she moved in with her sister and her family in a completely different direction from her children’s wanderings. She never heard from, or saw, them again. She lived out her life in bliss.

*********************     ****************     *************************

Author’s Notes:

  1. The above was from #FlashFiction Prompt from my friends over at Fiction Can Be Fun. This time, the prompt was just this: A case of the law of unintended consequences. Rules are simple:
  • Word count: 500 – 1,500 (ish)
    Deadline: 2pm GMT on Friday 11th October 2019
  • Post your story on your site and link to it here in the comments below, or drop us a line via the contact us page and we’ll post it for you.

The proprietors of Fiction Can Be Fun, Debs and David, are working on a shared novel that I can’t wait to read (yes, I still would love to be a Beta reader for the two of you). I met them during the AtoZ Blog Challenge in April of 2018, and I’m glad we have remained in contact. Visit their page. Lots of great stories, challenges, and essays to sink your teeth into.

2) The words in italics after the illuminated letters is from an Improv technique I’ve used for years in warmups and in my workshops and school residencies. I recently found out that the style is credited to Kenn Adams, author, educator, teaching artist, and performer. He is the Artistic Director of Synergy Theater based in Islip, New York (but they do travel across the country).

The pattern for Improv, and what I used above, is:

  • Once upon a time
  • Every Day
  • But one day
  • Because of that
  • Because of that
  • Until finally
  • Ever since then

If running this in a warm-up or as a rehearsal exercise, the amount of Because of that would increase due to how many were in attendance.

And…sorry, Debs & David, the word count is only 321.

Points For Style

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POINTS FOR STYLE

The doorbell rang and Esther’s eyes flew open. She had been napping on the couch. There was a groan, followed by an “OW!” as she started to raise her head. The bell rang again. Esther yelled “I’m coming! I’m coming!” in a hoarse, phlegmy way.

Esther made multiple noises, verbally and bodily, as she leveraged her way to a sitting position. They mixed with the occasional muttered curse. An “Oh, shit!” punctuated the calliope of sounds. The library book she had been reading, before she nodded out, fell to the floor. The bookmark went flying free, coming to rest on the other side of the coffee table. Her back creaked more as she retrieved the book.

Grumbling, Esther forced her swollen feet into her pink mules. Getting to her feet was a feat. Her smart-aleck son called this her “Rice Krispee Olympic Maneuver. From Prone to Standing in 6.5 minutes, accompanied by snapping, crackling, and popping, the whole way through.

“Putz,” she muttered, the pain holding back the sometimes smile that comments made. Esther adjusted her faded baby blue housecoat and touched her thinning hair.

Something was hitting the door as she shuffled out of the living room to the main foyer. It was a consistent, rhythmic beat. Already, the vein in her right temple began to throb. Esther cursed some more under her breath, still loud enough for others to hear (though she denied it every time). She thought she was quiet. End of story.

Even though she thought she knew who it was at the door, she still asked: “Who is it?” Esther had to: she could no longer reach the peephole and peer out of it.

“It’s me, Grandma. Becky. I have to go to the bathroom!”

Esther tsked and winced as she began to unbolt the three locks and then unchain the door. The blood rose in her cheeks: she hoped none of the neighbors heard Rebecca. Esther loved her granddaughter, but it was times like this she wanted nothing more than to give her a little zetz.

Taking a few steps back after “The Great Unlocking, another of her son’s quips, Esther grasped the doorknob. She turned it, bit her lip as arthritis in her hand flared, and opened the door. Her mouth dropped open as Rebecca skittered in.

“Hi, Grandma” rushed forward, followed by a cheek kiss and running into the apartment. Esther heard the bathroom door slam shut and the lock click.

The front door was still open and Esther still had her hand on the doorknob. A noise from down the hall startled her. It was Beverly, taking a bag of garbage to the incinerator door. They made eye contact, nodded, fake smiled at each other, and as one opened a door the other one closed hers.

Esther locked the bottom lock. She was back in the living room, sitting on the couch when she realized that she hadn’t bolted the other two locks. Nor did she re-chain the door.

She heard the bathroom sounds then. Flushing. The sink water turned on full blast, then off. The bathroom door unlocked and Rebecca came into the living room. Esther’s eyes roamed up and down the teenager.

Becky saw she was getting The Look. She sat down in the wing-back chair that had always been her favorite seat when visiting. She crumbled into it, threw both of her legs over the right chair arm, and sighed.

“What?”

Esther’s son warned her: “Don’t make a big deal out of this,” he told her over the phone. “This is not the ‘Big Fight!’ It’s a phase,” he emphasized. “She’s not hurting anyone. Do not start,” he demanded. Esther gritted her teeth at this memory.

She stared at her granddaughter, her Rebecca. Her Shayna Maidel. Her pretty girl. She stared, and in her head repeated: “it’s only a phase.”

Rebecca’s hair was dyed ink-black, cut short and spiky. All white face makeup. Exaggerated black mascara and eyeliner. Dark purple lips. A short red plaid skirt, legs showing through torn black stockings. Those horrible black Doc Martins. Her tee-shirt was one of her father’s that he got from a concert: T-Rex, faded black, with the sleeves torn off.

“Darling,” Esther said behind a strained smile. “Is that a dog collar around your neck? With spikes?”

Becky nodded her head.

Esther nodded hers.

They sat looking at each other for a bit.

Finally, Esther sighed.

“Bubala, are you hungry?”

Becky smiled, got out of the chair, and said: “Yes, grandma. Here, let me help you.” She moved to Esther’s side, knowing her grandmother. It took a moment, but together they got her standing.

“Oh shit!” they said in unison, and then went to the kitchen for a nosh.

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Author’s Notes:

The above is from another writing group I am a member of. Today’s prompt was the above title: Points For Style. Style can mean many things, and the writers today took the prompt and delivered very different interpretations. Some very thoughtful, some amusing. We wrote for less than an hour and then shared. Hope you enjoy my piece.

I AM RUNNING A FOUR WEEK CREATIVE WRITING PROGRAM

Starting on Friday, October 11th, I will be leading a Creative Writing/Storytelling workshop, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Held in New Rochelle, NY (lower Westchester County), the workshop can be reached by car or by the Metro-North Train stop (New Haven line). It is accessible to any of the five bouroughs of NYC, Westchester County, Rockland County, lower Connecticut, and Northern New Jersey.

Primarily created for the newly retired community, the sessions are open to anyone wanting to flex their creative writing muscles.

For full information and to sign up, please click on the following link:

Storytelling 101: An Intro to Creative Writing.

If you know anyone who would benefit, I’d appreciate it if you could pass this on.

Thank you!! Hope to see some of you there.

My Hot Fling With Ashton Kutcher: Flash Fiction (Prompt)

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FLASH FICTION PROMPT

MY HOT FLING WITH ASHTON KUTCHER

Top-down on my Shelby Mustang Convertible, white canvas snug against the red cherry finish, Ashton and I cruise along Route 1. Food was the topic of discussion, led by the intermittent growls from our stomachs. There was a stretch of road where they held a deep conversation, with each expressing a point vs. counterpoint on which fast food death-pit we were passing at the moment. Ashton and I laughed after the fifth such conversation, holding out stomachs more to quiet them down than to ease the aches.

The stereo was on 11 since we drove in the open air. Our playlist was Spotify controlled, a created loop aggregated through hours of controlled listening. Ashton skipped a couple of tunes I only heard one or two notes of, settling on Flo Rida and smiling. He had the remote and the wheel. I was fine until a K-Pop pop was “suggested.” Thus began the 1.3 mile Battle of the Remote, which I won by telling a very bad pun. I switched the playlist. Little Willie John, followed by Robert Johnson. The Blues moved us along, cool wind in our hair.

“Turn left at the next light.”

I was The Navigator on this part of our road trip. I took the role seriously, as did Ashton in his role as The Driver. The Navigator calls the shots, is always right and gets the last word in where the traveling winds up.

A gear shift and a sigh came from my left. I looked over: Ashton gave me the side-eye, which made me chuckle. He had a destination he wanted to get to; it was just without any definite time constraint. That wasn’t for the sigh. I had nowhere to be, nowhere to go, and he knew that.

“You could have let me drive, y’know,” I told him.

“Yeah, I should have. But, ” he smiled, “you are a maniac when you are aimless. So…”

“So, yeah.” I let a few blocks whiz by. “There. Turn right.” I pointed in my most Captain Obvious way. Ashton did without braking. “Good boy!”

Signs started popping up for various coastal beaches as we headed along the road. I must have let out a noise of interest because Ashton began to lightly curse under his breath. He’d seen the signs as well. They weren’t ominous signs, just ones we both knew were time killers.

I noticed something up ahead on the right that lit me up. Directing Ashton to pull over and park forestalled any argument that might have been forming. As the engine pinged down, we looked to our right. Frank’s Brick Oven. Just what our growling tummies ordered.

The driver door slammed shut, and Ashton joined me at the curb.

“You knew about this place?” he asked.

“Nope. Kismet. Synchronicity. That Old Pizza Magic. Food. Yes?”

“Yes.”

Ashton had a much longer gait and got to the door first. He stopped mid-step in. I had to squeeze by, a little shove working. I froze, too, as the aroma assailed our nostrils and sent them flaring. Laughter greeted us from a waitress who was standing in front of the counter and from the counter guy behind it. I answered their laughter with a huge smile. Ashton did as well, adding “Two, please.”

Our stomachs agreed as they gurgled in complicit harmony that sent all four of us laughing.

Debbie was our waitress, shiny and new out of High School, waiting for Freshman Year at Quinnipiac College to begin. If I said that she was smitten with Ashton, I’d hold the world’s record for understatements. She did get our orders; well, Ashton helped a bit, thereby pointing out I was sitting opposite of him. Once she unglued her eyes from him, the table for two was firmly acknowledged by Debbie. I still took that as a victory.

We placed our orders: a Keto Kale Kumbaya veggie mess for Ashton while I asked for a spicy Italian meat monster. Water was fine for both of us, but Ashton asked for slices of cucumber in his, hold the ice. Debbie sighed as she took the menus from us, more so when she took Ashton’s. “Of course, Mr. Ashton” giggles got only gigglier when he told her to just call him Ashton.

I might as well have been invisible.

Both of the pizzas sent our senses into overdrive, the smell first as Debbie approached with them and then the taste with our first bites. I got another side-eye from Ashton when my pie was put down. I had already looked askance at his. We had a few rules, and this was one of them: at the meal table, our “No Proselytizing” sign went into effect. It made our respective digestions easier and let us remain friends.

We ate. We talked. We commiserated and joked. Debbie and the counter guy, Sal, got their autographs and selfies (I even got into one, a little off to the side). As Debbie was clearing the table, I ordered two large cheese, cut into 16 slices. To go. That got me my third side-eye, although this one was straight on. It’s not an easy thing to do, but Ashton nailed it. My hands did the talking, patting the air down, as I tried to settle my face into neutral. I shrugged my shoulders. Ashton let it be.

We paid, left a generous tip, and took the steaming pies to the car. I handed them to Ashton and raced to the driver’s door. As he was getting in, he was going to put the pies behind him in what Ford laughingly called a “back seat.”

“Hey!” I blanched. “Not on the leather!”

Ashton nodded, placing the very hot pies on his legs, balanced so between hands and knees for the lesser of potential pain. He understood what the Mustang meant.

Pulling away from Frank’s wasn’t easy, but carrying the goodies we had helped. I drove down the road a few miles until I saw the next beach sign. I glanced over at Ashton: he was staring off to the right. You could just see the glint of the Sound in between the flashes of the houses and trees. He didn’t even try to be The Navigator. He knew.

We found a parking spot two and a half blocks from the beach. I took one of the pizza’s from Ashton as we made our way. As we got to the entrance path eyes started turning our way. I nodded to Ashton our destination: a rocky outlook with a slight crest that led right to the roiling waves. He was looking around, making eye contact and returning “Hi’s” and “Hello’s,” but he acknowledged where we were going.

Along the way, I opened up my pizza box, offering a slice to anyone who passed by or approached. Ashton followed suit. Once emptied, a couple of kids took the boxes off our hands. We could hear them arguing over who was going to keep Ashton’s box, even though I told them he had handled both in the car.

We sat on the rocks for a long time. Ashton finally remembered he had a destination in mind, and that I had not.

The sun was setting behind us as we got in the Mustang, turned the engine on, and let the Blues wash over us.

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Author’s Note: THIS WAS A PROMPT. Repeat: THIS WAS A PROMPT.

I have never met Mr. Kutcher, know very little about him beyond what the tabloid press and Twitter say about him, and this piece, hopefully, keeps in the spirit of what he is about. At no point was this meant to demean, start a rumor, or any of the other silly nonsense that the internet is kinda-sorta known for. Now, if it had been his wife Mila Kunis instead, I probably would have chosen that, but…ahem…well, it wouldn’t be here on Tale Spinning.

People: chill.

At one of the two (three?) writing groups I attend, we were asked to write up to FIVE story titles with the caveat being that NONE OF THE STORIES ARE TRUE. We each shared two or three of our titles and then got to choose from any (or none) of those offered.

I took “My Hot Fling With Ashton Kutcher” simply because it would have been the LAST thing ever in the whole wide world I would ever write on my own. Nothing against Mr. Kutcher: he seems like a nice guy, and I honestly respect that he went before Congress and spoke against Human Trafficking and some other humanistic ideals he espouses.

When we read our pieces to each other, the response to this was very gratifying. I’m doing much more off-line writing at the moment AND trying to organize the 20th Anniversary of Don’t Hate Us Because We’re Funny: Benefit Against Violence and Hate Crimes (more on that soon: almost done with the website, but click on the link above to go to our Facebook page).

Hope you enjoyed this. Something different from me. Comments are always welcome.

Forgotten Way (Part One)

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Forgotten Way

Part One

A dark, dirt road that led upwards, vanishing into untamed bramble, caught my eye as a Ford F-150 screeched to a stop. My chest tightened in a quick, sharp snap, the thought of being T-boned by that monster coming too close to reality. I remembered to breathe, not realizing I had stopped, as my foot pressed the accelerator down. A sign darted by as I sped along, naming the road.

Forgotten Way.

As I drove down Route 9, I found my concentration waver: I wasn’t sure at the moment if it was the near miss of the truck or the near miss of that road. My hands grew clammy, and a buildup of saliva sent me into a small coughing fit as I choked upon swallowing it.

A mile passed in less than a minute. It was a good thing there were no police on the road at the time.

Once I reached my destination, other things took my attention: Kelly, the woman I came to meet, beat me to the picnic grounds. She was waiting by her car. Her purple summer dress clung to her, which drew my eyes at first. The tilt of her head and her half smile brought me closer. “Men,” she said, her smile broadening until it disappeared with the kiss that she laid on me. We stood like that until a woman walking by harrumphed us. Our foreheads met as our lips parted. Eyes closed, I began to smile, but lost it as a stray thought hit me.

Forgotten Way.

She could feel me tense, asking me what just happened. I laughed it off, blaming it on the “harumpher” and her puritanical ways. That got a small smack on my upper arm, another kiss, this one a peck, and we broke apart to get the food she had brought and the blanket and wine I had in my car. Hand in hand, we left the parking lot and traveled into the park for the night’s entertainment.

The music was wonderful, the company more so. We had decided earlier that we’d end our evening here instead of going to one of our places for the night. She was leaving extra early on a business trip the next morning and made the time and effort to at least spend this time with me, for us. I agreed, reluctantly, saying I also had tons to do the next day and also had an early start.

I didn’t, and I’m pretty sure she knew I was fabricating it all. She let it lie, and I appreciated it. Nothing was going on, and nothing had been going on for way too long until she had entered my life. The last thing I wanted to do was to blow it this early in what I hoped would be a relationship.

Stowing away the blanket and picnic ware, we leaned against her car in a Goodnight kiss. She was beginning to waver in her decision to go home alone: I was long past wavering, having mentally abandoned that choice after our first kiss that evening. But, again, I didn’t want to blow things. You know when you can tell there is something really special about the other? She was it, for me, and while I pressed a little bit, I rode evening out as planned.

Her biting my lip with our last kiss did not help in that decision.

She took off first. I idled a little, thinking, adjusting myself, and turned on the car stereo system. Static filled the cabin, and I had to tune around to find something I wanted to hear. At that point, the night’s music was enough in my head, so I turned off the system, put the car in reverse, and almost hit the walking “harumpher” who was passing right behind me.

She screeched, and a stream of well laid curses and obscenities spewed forth. My heart did a quick skip: for that moment, I was back with the almost T-bone, back at Forgotten Way. Then reality hit me as she smacked her hand on the trunk of my car and shambled off. I left the grounds without any further incident and made my way back along Route 9.

A twenty-four-hour gas station/mini-mart was my first destination. I needed the facilities, and a snack would be welcome. The kid at the counter was a familiar face. I’d stopped here a couple of times in the past month, ever since Kelly and I had met cute. He said, “howdy,” I said, “hi,” and he scanned my snack and soda.

Outside, a semi whooshed by, tooting its air horn, and it brought me back to earlier in the evening. I asked the kid about Forgotten Way. It wasn’t that far down the road from the station. He looked at me, bagged my loot, scratched at a pimple on his nose, and shrugged.

“Never heard of it,” he finally answered.

There was nothing to push with the teen. I thanked him and left the mart. Getting in my car, I felt that tightness in my chest again. Taking a swig of my soda, and then popping open the bag of chips and munching a few, did nothing to alleviate the pressure inside of me. Turning the car over, I sat.

There were two ways to get out of the area, the quickest being the road I was already on. I debated for a few moments, feeling silly in the end over my indecision. Part of me wanted to call Kelly, or head over and “surprise” her, but I didn’t.

Checking behind me very carefully-I wasn’t sure The Harumpher wouldn’t have been waiting for me-I backed out of the spot, came to the exit of the lot, and turned right onto Route 9. Towards home. Towards Forgotten Way.

I should have gone the other way home.

 

To be continued