Category Archives: Food

Reflections In A Car Mirror: #AtoZ Blog Challenge 2019

Standard

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary Reflections badge

26 Posts

A total of 36,061 Words

A Car In The Woods

Six years of participation. Six years surviving. Six years.

This year kicked my ass.

I’m not someone who outlines these things. Titles, maybe (i.e. the Road Signs year). I get the basic idea, like it enough, think I’ll get some mileage out of it, and go with it, peddle to the metal.

I originally planned to just do individual stories. The only through line connector would be the Narrator (the Present Day voice). My take on The Twilight Zone.But then…

Commenters got invested in the mystery. The clicking sounds. Then the Thunderbird. Finally, Patricia, Debra, and Tim. What started out as a Horror/Mystery series of lightly connecting pieces began to form a larger story. So, commenters, you may take credit for leading me in this direction.

I also began to care and think about the family.

Zeno the mutated frog was planned before I started. This is a real African frog known as the Clawed Foot. It does not have a tongue and makes a clicking sound instead of croaking. It can’t make the usual frog noise. AND: it was (is being?) used in many Biochemical labs as a test subject for a variety of reasons. I had my X post planned out, and the Z post.

Which changed drastically by the time I reached Z.

The Narrator was originally going to remain a mysterious “voice” in the woods, with Z being a more philosophical/paranormal pondering. Once I introduced Eddie, it felt right for him to take on that role. By the very end, and the reason why Monday the 29th’s post was delayed, I was having an intense inner struggle: let Eddie live to fulfill the role I was planning, or let him die and have someone else become the narrator.

Tim was a bit fragile, with all the trauma he went through. Patricia needed, I felt, a happier life. That left Debra, the smart mouthed, arm punching, take no shit Sister.

Eddie vs. Debra. A full day was spent with inner debates, and then a well thought out feedback email came along. Thanks, Melanie. If you are not familiar with Atherton’s Magic Vapour, you really should check it out.

I didn’t want to be predictable, but in the end I guess I was, based on the few comments I had at the end.

The posts were much longer than I should have written. The story took me where the story took me. Blog hoppers don’t always want to invest in long posts. Pop in. Hit the like button. Leave a comment here and there. Not this puppy. The lowest word count of the main story was 887 words (I on April 10th). The longest was the Y post, with 2,936 words. In case you’re wondering, I wrote the Z post’s 1,491 words the same day I wrote Y.

4,427 words. One day. I think I used up all the words in my head. The night was for vegging out.

The Saturday posts were hint drops for things as yet unexplained. Some were straight forward, most needed your thinking cap on to make the connections. I felt I didn’t have to hit the readers on the head with explaining every last detail. Sometimes solving things, or allowing your own mind to wonder, can be a great experience.

As for TB, there are clues scattered here and there about the T-bird. Red Thunderbird-4 was described by one reader as just gobbledygook. It’s the least straight forward of the Saturday posts, but read between the lines and look at the graphic inserts. Add that to the last week of stories and TB’s role.

I want to thank every single person who read, liked, and commented on the day-to-day posts. This is what stirred me on, made me think, and really boosted a confidence that needed a lot of boosting. Congrats to everyone who completed, or attempted, this years Blog Challenge.

Big thanks to all the hosts of 2019’s AtoZ Blog Challenge:

Arlee Bird (founder) @ Tossing it Out
J Lenni Dorner (captain) @ Blog of Author J Lenni Dorner
Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary

John Holton @ The Sound of One Hand Typing

Jayden R Vincente @ J R Vincente Erotica Writer

Jeremy Hawkins (graphics) @ Hollywood Nuts

Final Words:

Is this story done? Are there questions you still have, threads you feel I didn’t tie together?  Why did I choose the titles for each piece? Thoughts, comments, Agents who you think should read this? I’d love to hear from you.

There’s a car in the woods.

Link To AtoZ Reflections Sheet

And to finish this out, the following are 10 Reasons Why I Hate You

10 Questions To Answer:

  1. What did you love about the challenge this year?
    1. As always, getting my creative juices flowing & finding new blogs to read/follow
  2. What would you change about it?
    1. Group the Master List by categories, as we’re asked to choose where our blog fits in.
  3. What was the best moment for you during this year’s challenge?
    1. The comments of those who really followed my complicated story line.
  4. What is the best comment your blog got during the challenge, and who left the comment?
        1. First Post: “Excellent start, Stu. Almost David Baldacci meets Stephen King. Expertly narrated.” by Varad
        2. Last Post: “Fantastic story. Had me riveted to my seat on every entry. Well done.” by Harvey

       

  5. Will you do the challenge again?
    1. Most likely. Depends where my head is at next April
  6. Was it well organized and were the hosts helpful? (Did you fill out the after survey?)
    1. Survey Says: It’s done. This year, the main AtoZ page was a little hard to navigate. Took too many tries to find things. i.e. Master List
  7. How did you and your blog grow, change, or improve as a result of this challenge? Did you find new blogs out there to enjoy?
    1. The more I write, the better I feel my storytelling gets. Each year has its fans, but I really pushed myself this year, and I think it shows.
  8. Were you on the Master List? (If you did the challenge last year, was it better this time without the daily lists?)
    1. Yep I was. I do with we saw the deletions as previous years. Winnows down searches.
  9. Any suggestions for our future?
    1. Throw us a curve-ball: Start the month with Z, work out way to A. Something.
  10. Any notes to the co-host team? A word of thanks to Jeremy for all his hard work on the graphics?
    1. As always, thank you. The graphics were excellent. Thanks.

 

 

That’s All Folks. Comments are always appreciated. Did you like my April output? Are there things I left open that still leave you puzzled? Who wrote the book of love? Just want to say “Hi Stu!”?

Enjoy

Advertisements

Twilight Time: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

Standard

A Car In The Woods: Chapter Sixteen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019T TWILIGHT TIME

1964

The search wound down and finally was called off. Snow came in hard, not just blanketing the county but throwing three quilts on top of it. Schatzi had not come back, nor did they find any trace before the storm hit them. Afterward, it seemed fruitless. Patricia was convinced their precious girl must have gone chasing something. Did she just get lost? Was she trying to find her way back, still, through all this snow and ice? She shook her head. The thought of her getting hurt, dying in the far woods alone, was one she never voiced.

During the day, she kept busy with work, the kids, fixing things around the house, cooking and cleaning. The night was the enemy. Doing nothing, the heaviness in her chest grew, her skin feeling pulled and taut. She was awake more than she slept. Eyes open, she’d stare at the ceiling, motionless. She felt the emptiness of the bedroom. Patricia concentrated on sounds. More than anything, she was hoping for the long series of barking from Schatzi returning. Even one bark. One.

Patricia eventually tired. That was when things got worse for her. Her heart became a heavier lead weight, beating against her ribs.  Her thoughts began revolving around and around, which started a headache. Schatzi, gone. The effects of this causing the pain inside Timmy to breach onto those around him. Debra took the opposite reaction. She went silent, monosyllabic when she did say something, hanging her head down as she shuffled around.  She didn’t make a fuss when Patricia called her daughter “Debra.” Everything was off kilter.

Then Eddie. Each night the absence of her husband, her best friend, tore through her, replacing any other thought. All of their life together, patches of the good and the not so good, rushed through. As every night, Patricia let loose a flood of tears. She’d drift away on a damp pillow, an uneasy sleep waiting for her.

This night, almost exactly a full month to the night since Schatzi vanished, something cut through her ragged weeping. Loud, outside her window, she heard this incessant clicking noise. This was exactly what Timmy and Debra told her they heard, amongst the story about the car in the woods. She hadn’t believed them. But now, Patricia froze, the crying stopping as her heart began to race. It ended as fast as it came. She waited for more of the clicking, but none came. Her body began to unclench, mobility returning in dribs and drabs. Patricia worked on sitting up, moved the covers off, and swung her legs over the side of the bed.

Taking the few steps to the window was hard, but she managed. Patricia put her hand on the cold glass to steady herself. She looked around, but the moonlight was playing hide and seek with the night clouds. Nothing. Her head dropped, a perfect imitation of Debra. She was turning to go back to bed when she heard something.

“Patricia. Sweetie.”

She spun back to the window in a forceful, jerky motion. Her foot caught on the nightstand, sending her crashing to the floor. Just before she landed, her head connected with the bed frame. Patricia didn’t move again through the last hours of the night.

In the morning, Debra went looking for her Mother. She was always up before them. Not getting any response from her knocking, Debra opened her parents’ bedroom door.  She saw her stretched out by the bed, dried blood soaked into the throw rug. She raced over and knelt beside her. Debra knew enough to check her pulse. She saw that her mom’s chest was moving. She tried but couldn’t wake her.

“TIM!” she wailed, again and again until he showed up at the bedroom doorway.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1968

Tim stared into his father’s eyes. They locked onto each other. Tim really wanted to run into the woods, but his mom just got married. She’d suffered enough. He didn’t want to hurt her. He wasn’t 100% sure it was his dad. But the face: it was the same, no aging. His shoulders were broader than he remembered, and what he could see of his arms were muscular. The bush was just high enough to hide most of his body. Something else moved beside him; an animal of some sort. It wasn’t any normal shape that Tim knew of. But the color of its coat was etched into his memory.

“Schatzi,” he said, a strangled whisper.

Eddie was moving back step by step. He looked at his son, wanting to go to him. Eddie knew things had moved on without him. He’d kept enough tabs on the three of them over the years to feel the pain that pulsated off of his family. Pat had finally moved on, and while Eddie understood he felt like he wanted to cry. He hadn’t cried in a very long time.

Tim started to walk towards his father and what he was sure was his dog. He was preparing to run as he saw them both backing away, making ground as they vanished behind the thick grouping of the trees. He was just passing the last row of chairs when he heard his name called out. Not wanting to stop, it was the second “TIM” that had him halt and turn around.

Debra stood outside the back door. Her arms were crossed, her head was tilted, and her face did the Critical Frown. Tim knew she wouldn’t come to him. He grudgingly went back to the house, facing her.

“What in blue blazes were you doing?”

Tim shrugged, putting his hands in his pants pockets.

“Tim, you know what today means. I know you don’t want Mom to get frazzled. We’ve experienced too much of that over the years. From her and from the two of us. So, spill it.”

He looked over his shoulder, searching, but there wasn’t anyone amidst the trees and green growth.

Debra punched him in the shoulder. “Well?”

Tim took a deep breath in; as he let it out, he said: “I’m pretty sure I just saw Dad. And Schatzi. They were over there,” he nodded to where the duo had been. “Sis, I’m not crazy. Not any crazier, anyways.”

That brought a smile to her lips while her frown lines became crevices.

Debra lowered her voice. “Timmy. They are gone. Gone. I know that. I know you know that. I can’t…I just can’t anymore.”

Tim brought his sister into a hug, which was reciprocated two-fold. With his mouth near her ear, he whispered: “Debs, it was the two of them. I’m pretty damn sure. I’m going to go look for them.”

Debra held him by the shoulders, taking in the set tone of his voice and his body language. She knew he would go.

“Please, just wait. Wait until all the guests have gone, and Mom and Will take off. Please. She deserves this.”

He nodded his head and started toward the house. He’d lost his appetite for the food inside, but he cared deeply for his Mother. His sister, too.

“Tim.” He stopped, hand on the doorknob. “I’ll go with you. Let’s try, even though it will be the last time.”

They both went inside the house. Music was playing on the HiFi, people were loaded down with food and drink, and Patricia and Will were sharing a kiss. Everyone inside applauded.

Outside, there was stone cold silence.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1962

Gary/Maynard went ass over teakettle across the room. He landed against the rack of barbells. As he got up, he put both hands around his nose and twisted, setting it straight. Gary wiped the blood that had streamed over the lower part of his face, smearing it into lines across his cheeks. Smiling, he met Eddie as he fully entered the room. Fists met faces; knees attempted to find the squishy dangling parts. They tossed each other around.

Gary got in a powerhouse into Eddie’s gut, sending him flying backward. He landed near the barbell rack. As he got to his feet, Eddie took a 20# barbell and was into his backswing when the Insert went off shorted them both out.

When he woke, he found himself back on the slap, very tightly strapped down. An IV was already in place as one of the Lab goons approached him holding a very large needle syringe. The white-garbed man stopped at the edge of the slab. He had placed the syringe somewhere out of Eddie’s sight.

Leaning over Eddie, eyeball to goggle lens, Eddie barely saw the slap across his face coming. Eddie didn’t  feel it.  He didn’t feel anything in any part of his body. No sensations. He wanted to shout at the man, but his mouth didn’t work.

Eddie saw, once again, the very large needle. It was raised over his face. A bit of liquid squirted out the end, dribbling down onto him.

He couldn’t help but watch as the needle made a beeline to his left eye.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Present Day

The black night brings hints of the unknown.

The unknown can be frightening.

What is known can be downright disturbing.

There was a car in the woods.

 

O, Woeful Lament: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

Standard

A Car In The Woods: Chapter Twelve

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019O O, WOEFUL LAMENT

1962

 

“Weeks. Just three weeks,” murmured Sheriff John Miner into his lunch, a greasy Bacon Cheeseburger with mustard, mayo, and ketchup. Just what he wanted. Just what the doctor told him, repeatedly, to stay away from. He lied to himself that not ordering fries evened things out.

“What’s that, John?” Patricia was behind the counter, back turned to him, preparing to make a fresh pot of coffee.

“Nothing, Pat. Nothing at all.” He bit into the burger, the juice dribbling across the long hairs of his mustache and into his need-to-be trimmed beard. He chewed twice and swallowed, watching Pat bending over to get a clean pot from underneath. “I might be old, but I have eyes,” he’d say every time one of his deputies, or his drinking cronies, caught him eyeing someone other than Mrs. John Miner.

When Eddie disappeared, he made an effort not to leer. It was only respectful, seeing how he did like Eddie, for the most part. He gave himself permission to enjoy himself again after about four months. Just happened that was about the same time that Pat came back to the luncheonette, picking up her shifts again.

Munching away, in between slurps of his cup of Joe, which Pat filled every time the cup was at the halfway point, he thought about his retirement. As far as he was concerned, it couldn’t come soon enough. Full pension, money saved up; he was leaving this godforsaken place and heading south to warmer climates. He was counting the days.

He grunted, the coffee burning his tongue on contact. “Yeah, outta here. Snow, ice, and all these damn eerie disappearances.” Sheriff John never really sussed out if he was more bothered by the missing or the fact it was putting a dent on his record. Not being very self-aware kept things, like a clean conscious, at bay.

Finished, he tried to pay, but Sam, the cook/owner, waved him away. As usual. They went through this every day. Patricia wanted to refuse the tip, but she needed the money. Sheriff John knew it and always left her a dollar anyways. Putting on his hat as he got outside, he huffed as he saw his deputy, Will Kane, outside waiting for him.

“Sheriff,” Will touching the brim of his hat.

“Will, what now?”

He knew what it was. The Sheriff was trying to push it away, but it kept coming up. He was afraid this would bite him in the ass at least one more time before he was done. He looked Will in the eye, once again assessing the deputy. Did he make the right choice in grooming the kid to take over? It wasn’t the first time he thought that. Each time he did, the Sheriff calculated how much longer he had, and each time he had the same answer: it wouldn’t be his problem once he was gone.

“Complaints about the sounds from the woods, same as the last two weeks. We had to split up today because of the different areas reporting in.”

“Same sound?”

Will nodded. He didn’t want to add that he thought he had heard that disturbing clicking sound as well, just the other day. He drew his gun from his nightstand, threw on a coat, and checked the area. Nothing. Will didn’t know what to think anymore. The reports coming in were getting under his skin.

Plus, the fact, that over the last year there were five more “incidents.” It unnerved the whole area. Already some families had left. More might follow.

“OK, Will. You know the drill. Lord knows at this point how many times we’ve done this search-and-discover Jack, but we have to. Since last night was that bad, I’ll pull in some favors with the State boys. If I can.”

“Seven,” Will thought, slightly gritting his teeth. Seven half-assed attempts. He knew the Sheriff was both biding his time and putting on a show to appease. Less than a month, and he was already planning to run things differently.

Will had no way of knowing that Sheriff John had the exact same thoughts about his predecessor just before the old man retired.

Both men got into their respective Ford Fairlane cruisers and headed back to the Sheriff’s office to plan the night’s forays.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Three nights later, and they had nothing. The State Troopers gave up on the second night, returning to their speed traps and truck stops. The Sheriff had bolstered his staff with deputized volunteers who he insisted must travel with one of the normal deputies only as a backup. They petered out until the only two volunteers left were the idiots who discovered the Thunderbird in the first place: Todd and Barry.

Todd rode with the Sheriff on the first night out; Barry on the second. The third night, he rode alone. The two talked, and talked, and talked throughout their rides. It was all one piece of BS after another, the stories no longer even coming close to their statements from ’59. He wound up dropping them both off on their respective ride-along at any tavern on their route. The buzzing in his head stayed with him well after he returned home and opened up his Scotch.

The Sheriff and Will went out separately on the fourth night. The calls had died down to next to nothing by then. Will thought one more night might catch the noisemakers or shake them enough to move on out of the area. Sheriff John didn’t care anymore. The days were counting down, and cruising in his car at night, alone, sounded just fine with him.

By 2:30 a.m., Will was calling it a night. The Sheriff agreed. His body sagged into the seat. Tilting his head back onto the headrest, he rolled down the window a touch, the cold air hitting his face. He began humming to himself, which morphed easily into singing “Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit” and then laughing. He loved that cartoon.

He was about to go into another piece he heard through Loony Tunes. Headlights approaching, coming up fast. He moved his cruiser to the right, skirting the ridge of the side rut. The car blew past him, honking once when they were level.

Swearing, Sheriff John hit the Cherries and Berries, U Turned, and sped after the car, sirens blaring. “Damit,” he yelled. “That damned Thunderbird. I’ve had enough,” reverberated through the cabin. The T Bird increased speed. The Fairlane did as well. The turns were sharp, the road dark, but Sheriff John white-knuckled it and floored the gas pedal. It wasn’t until the T Bird’s brake lights lit before it went off-road that the Sheriff took his right hand off the wheel, picked up the two-way and called in for backup.

He knew exactly where he was being led. He cursed at the car and whoever was inside it non-stop. Until the Fairlane stopped, right passenger tire going flat after hitting something sticking out of the dirt road.

Sheriff John left the headlights on, put the car in park, and got out. His right hand went to his sidearm, drawing it out slowly, clicking off the safety. Staying behind the open door, his gaze traveled along the empty grassy field in front of him. It took a second for that eyeballed information to reach his thinking process.

Empty. Tallgrass, dark outlines of trees off in the near distance, but nothing else. He started to call out but didn’t; movie logic never made much sense to him. If the headlights were throwing their vision off, why give them a voice to focus on? He waited. The lack of bird or animal noise caused his forehead to perspire. It wasn’t natural.

The Sheriff made his decision: he needed to find that damned car and whoever drove it. He reached in and turned off the engine, leaving the headlights on Brights. Forgetting his hat on the passenger side was unlike him, but he had closed his door already and didn’t want any more large movements that might take him down.

Three steps away from his Ford and the clicking sound started. This one loud and deep, not at all like the majority of the callers described it. This was thunderous. Four more steps away and the ground buckled under him sending him sprawling. His gun spiraled out of his control. Rolling over, he looked back at his Fairlane. Something huge was on top of the car, its right arm smashing through the front window while the left was digging deeply into the driver’s door.

The thing jumped up, landing on top and crushed the roof. The rest of the window glass shattered. The other tires burst as the car was jumped on again and again. The Sheriff began to inch away, a reverse crawling motion that was jerky at best.

His escape was inconvenienced by two factors: while he was looking at the shape destroy his car, a less volatile clicking nose what now behind him; and his head was stopped by a foot being placed on his head, pushing it into the cold soil.

Sheriff John peed himself while his arms and legs were similarly restrained. He started to address them, question them, abase himself, but the backhanded slap cracked his head around so he was eating grass. The foot holding his head down had been removed before the slap. It found its way back.

A figure crouched down, facing him. The Sheriff could taste the blood running out of his face; he tried to spit it in the other’s face, but it barely cleared his lips. A hand came around his cheeks and squeezed, the pressure strong. The two made eye contact, and the Sheriff could only let out a gasp.

“Hey, Sheriff John. Long time, eh?” The voice was grave. It had a vibration to it, changing the pitch and tone as he spoke. He, because the Sheriff knew who this was. Quick glances around and he caught some familiar faces. It wasn’t much of a leap of intelligence, even for the Sheriff, to realize he was being held down by some of the missing.

“Hey, hey. Look at me. Yeah, it’s me. Gary. Remember me? Remember all the hassles we received from you? HEY!” He slapped the Sheriff again; the clicking sounds made its rounds, only stopping when he focused on the young man.

He started choking on the blood that was pooling and spit that onto the ground. It hurt to talk, but he had to make sense of what was happening.

“Maynard?”

Gary growled. “Man, you too. Any idea how much I hated being called that? This much,” as a hard object hit the Sheriff between the eyes. When he was finally able to open his eyes, he saw that the little bastard was brandishing a pretty large knife in his hands, flipping it back and forth.

Gary stood as the others picked the Sheriff up and held him, their claws digging into his extremities.

“There are other things I hate, Sheriff. A lot of that hate is directed your way. Yeah, yeah, you were doing your job, we were delinquents and all of that. But, it all added up. It was other things. We thought we knew you, knew to stay out of your way. But, I got to watch you on some of your night excursions. Things. You know? Things.” He swept his arms around. “Not to all of us.”

One of the others hauled back and punched the Sheriff in the stomach. He noticed it was a woman once he could straighten up. A damn strong woman.

“One of your unasked questions I’ll give you a freebie to: me and the others were taken, but it was as recruits. Recruits. Tested. Poked. Punctured. Changed.

But not you. We were. Not you. Definitely not you.”

Gary gestured, and they all manhandled the Sheriff back towards his car. Well, what was left of it. The hulking mass was on top of the pile of pieces. Its head picked up, and the huge clicking noise it made was followed by the stench of its breath.

Before the Sheriff could say anything, beg, curse, or even draw in another breath, Gary thrust the heavy duty combat knife into the Sheriff’s back. He gave it a twist as he pulled it out. The woman who punched the Sheriff in the gut kicked and sent Sheriff John flying towards the car.

There were no screams as they faded back into the woods. Clicking sounds filled up the void.

 

Present Day

Some had slight regrets for that evening’s outcome.

Mainly that Sheriff John Miner was already dead by the time Zeno got its meal.

The thrashing seemed to mellow Zeno’s clicking.

Not that night.

There was a car in the woods.   

 

 

 

Monday Mourning: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

Standard

A Car In The Woods: Chapter Ten

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work.  Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019M  MONDAY MOURNING

1961

Monday, December 11th, 1961. Three events mattered that day to retired Corporal Eddie Kelly, Army: Adolph Eichmann was found guilty of war crimes in an Israeli court; JFK officially began a war in Vietnam; and David was dead. His severed head sailed past him, barely missing Eddie’s by a hair’s breadth.

Eddie turned and shot into the woods, looking for anything he could turn into a weapon. The sounds behind him were sickening unto themselves; the wet sound of rendering flesh. The clicking noise grew louder behind him, centering on where Eddie had left David’s body. His friend’s dead body.

Still in combat readiness, Eddie rocketed through the woods making as little noise as he could. He made out a climbable tree to his left. Scaling it with ease, Eddie tested out a viable branch that stretched out towards a different tree. He took a deep breath, steeled himself, and ran across the narrow length, jumping just as he felt the limb start to bend.

Safely across, he duck walked towards this tree’s trunk. The foliage was thick, and Eddie took advantage of this, catching his breath, and giving him a moment’s rest; his mind insisted he replay the events that led him here.  Hopefully, it would help lead him the way out of this.

He met David Fox on his last tour with the Army. Instant buddies from ’56 to ’58. Long hauls for both of them, but they were there in an advisory capacity only, helping train the ARVN Ranger units under their oversight. They met on the transport flying out of the US; by the time they landed in South Vietnam they were solid.

The April 1956 siege and fall of Dien Bien Phu was the reason they were there. The US was ramping up their mandate: get the ARVN ready steady for what they all knew was coming. The insurgent’s attacks were escalating. It’d be a full-blown war before any of them knew it. Eddie and David were well versed on what their jobs were: they went total Boot on the South Vietnamese troops.

Eddie shipped back home a half year before David. He had a wife and kids waiting, and re-upping wasn’t an option for him. It was all going FUBAR, and all the signs laid out it would only get worse. David wanted one more shot; there was a bit of payback in his decision. Eddie understood. Didn’t agree, but he understood.

They connected after David returned, phone calls bridging the gaps in the distance. He’d been up to visit Eddie and his family before. This time, it just happened to fall on a really sensitive day. They were out on a drive in David’s Chevy Bel Air, shooting the shit. David was overjoyed about Eichmann’s trial, having lost too much family on his father’s side in the camps. Eddie felt the news brought some justice to the world. Not enough for all the dead, but it was something.

Both of their moods, though, were slashed to pieces once the car radio was turned on.  Things had been getting worse in Nam: insurgent attacks had ratcheted up in the last few months, and the Diệm government retaliated by decimating the Communists still on South Vietnam soil. Advisory reasoning was shoved aside: the Vietnam War for the US had officially begun.

Thoughts of reenlistment went through both of their heads. Eddie felt the need to break this train of thought. He had previously told David of the weird things going on in the woods a little further on. A T-bird appearing out of nowhere, and then nowhere to be found when it was searched for. Missing people. Smashed cars here and there: not the T-Bird. Never the T-Bird. The few times it had been seen it had always been described as pristine. Bringing it up again got them both fired up, trying to replace the news in their heads and the wooden blocks in their hearts.

Eddie navigated; David drove. They stopped and looked around the few spots that Eddie knew someone saw something or claimed to. First stop was where the Ford Falcon was found. They got out of the Chevy and looked around. There was still enough light left, but it was just an empty space. David found the marred Basswood the car had hit. Eddie thought some dry rot was setting in; he noticed some mushrooms further back in the hole the car had left. Anything that might have been of interest was scavenged in the year since whatever happened, happened.

Next, they went to the outcropping where the Golden Hawk Studebaker was turned inside out. The sunlight was inching away from them by the time they arrived. The four missing teens were still being talked about almost two years gone. Eddie showed David the marks that were gouged out of the rocky ridge. No one could explain it.

The sun was sinking. David looked out over the tree line, the light playing across the leaves, shimmering over the random patches of ice and snow on top of them. A few stars could be seen above and beyond.

“Man, this is beautiful. Thanks, Ed.”

“Davey, we have one more stop, then home to whatever Pat is making for dinner. C’mon.”

Eddie got into the Bel Air, his mood lightening. Just before David opened the car door, he noticed something: there was no noise except for the wind. Strange, he thought.

David disregarded clicking sounds he thought he heard as he got in, shut the door, and turned the engine on.

 

Present Day

Turning around and going for that meal would have been the smartest thing to do.

Would have.

There was a car in the woods.

 

 

Juno Plummeting: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

Standard

A Car In The Woods: Chapter Eight

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

AtoZ2019J Juno Plummeting

1967

Samantha woke with a coughing fit. Slow and sluggish, she was having trouble focusing. She was in pain. The pain grew as her attentiveness sharpened. There was a horrible taste in her mouth. Working her jaw amplified an abrasive texture against her face; something hard and gritty pressing into it. She coughed again, hawking out something moist. The pain in her nose hit her, hard. She was having problems trying to breathe. Samantha opened her eyes slowly, shutting them instantly. A blurry, swirling mass of color hurt her head. The pain was intense.

Samantha attempted to get up. An inner scream cut through her held back by firmly clenched teeth. Her hands were pressed against each other, pulled tightly behind her back. They wouldn’t budge. Her legs were in the same condition. Samantha forced herself to keep trying. Her body arched up, the struggle of forcing her extremities at the same time seized her. “Tied up. I’m tied up,” she finally realized. Slowly, so slowly, Samantha eased off the tension and further pain she was causing. The realization momentarily broke her.

Panic was starting to circulate.

A feeling of hopelessness began to slink through her. It wormed its way through, nibbling at Samantha’s essence. Life’s myriad of moments cascaded, flipping scenes too fast to catch and hold them. Birthday parties, heartaches, driving, being driven, dancing, vacations, school, more school, even more school.  Her first kiss. Mom and Dad. Grandma. Vanessa. Mom and Dad. MOM AND DAD!

She remembered. The car. Her parents were in the car. The crash. It all happened so fast. Someone is running towards her. The pain. Someone…Lisa. Lisa, running towards her. Her arm raised, fist hurtling forward. Awakening.

Thinking of Lisa brought her to her sessions, then her studies. Years of studying, training. What she needed to do flowed through her now. Distress tolerance skills. She grabbed onto the one that always helped her. Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out. Counting breaths in, then out. Repeat. The repetition focused her. The focus calmed her.

Fear started working away at it.

A hard bump sent her up and down, the quickness too sudden. Her face hit the flooring, pain shooting through her nose all the way up through her skull. The groan she let out was met with a nasty little giggle.

“About time, Dr. Sam. Thought you’d never wake up. Hoped so, too. Really hoped.”

“Lisa?” The name was croaked out; followed by a series of coughs, each one an escalation of pain.

Silence. A Lisa silence; drawn out, taking her time in answering, or not, in all of their sessions.

“Yeah. Me.” In case you was wondering, we’re driving. Not sorry about that bump in the road. Anyways, we’re almost there.”

It took a moment to process. “Where is ‘There,’ Lisa?”

Silence, again.

“Lisa, please, talk to me. We’ve always found a way to talk things through.”

A barked laugh. Samantha hoped it would be followed by something more.

Silence.

A different tactic. “Lisa. Can you help me understand something?” She waited for a moment. “I have been going over our last enc…session. Can you tell me why my leaving affected you so?”

The horn on the car took a staccato beating. When it stopped, Lisa still said nothing.

“Lisa. My decision to move was nothing against you at all. Not one bit. You said I was trying to throw you away as others have. I wasn’t. I’m not. I wouldn’t leave until I had the right person to take over for me.” Nothing. “Lisa…”

“Stop saying my name,” Lisa growled. “Shut up already. Just shut up.”

The vehicle they were in drove on. Uncomfortable on so many levels, Samantha wanted to get up off the car floor. Asking for help did not seem like an option that would get her anywhere. She began rocking from side to side, finally forcing enough to roll her onto her side. Her back met a hard surface. It wasn’t comfortable, but at the moment the pain that lanced through kept her there.

Looking around, she saw why she had the space to move. She wasn’t in the back of a car. They were in the cabin of a VW Microbus. She knew what it was. Vanessa bought a used one in San Francisco, sending her over a dozen Polaroids, inside and out, with circles and arrows punctuated with exclamation points. Lisa didn’t own a VW. She drove a beat-up Dodge Dart; a hand me down of a hand me down.

“Soon. Soon,” Lisa quietly said.

Samantha was pretty sure Lisa wasn’t talking to her.

~~~

A quick right turn onto an even bumpier path. Lisa was doing a lot of weaving now; the jerky movements were sending small waves of pain through Samantha.  With some straining, Samantha could see a bit out of the windows at the top of the van. Trees. Lots and lots of trees.

The VW stopped, idling in place, then moved on at a crawling pace. The weaving continued, but not as ferociously. A “Yes!” was followed by the Microbus being turned off, brake set, and the opening and closing of the driver’s door. Samantha could barely see the top of Lisa’s head through the windshield. She was standing still, both hands behind her head, fingers knotted together. Samantha imagined that Lisa had her eyes closed, muttering a prayer, or a condemnation, to whatever brought them to these woods.

Looking around the cabin, hoping to find something that could help her, she wasn’t prepared for the wall she was leaning on to slide open. Samantha tumbled out onto the ground. She missed hitting her head on a pointy rock by inches. Her breath was knocked out of her for a moment. She looked around once she settled, and then up.

Lisa was standing over her, staring down. The meeting of their eyes was not a pleasant experience for Samantha. All of Lisa’s anger tells were on full show: the flexing in and out of her fingers; the clicking noise she made with her teeth; the angle she held her head, just off to the left; and her eyes, bulging more than she had ever seen before. Danger dangled off of Lisa. Danger and hatred.

Lisa bent over and lifted Samantha, grabbing her upper arms and pushing her backward, leaving her upright leaning against the VW. Taking two steps back, Lisa squatted down, facing Samantha. But, her eyes were moving all around, resting on one location, then another. Lisa was looking for something, and Samantha had no idea what it was. Fear shot up when Lisa locked eyes on her.

“Y’know, you haven’t asked once about your mom and dad. What does that say about you, Dr. Sam?” Lisa sat. “Mind elsewhere? Anyways, as I was putting you in the VW, I saw them both moving in their car, trying to get out, to get to you. I could tell by the blood on their faces they were hurting. Yet, they still tried to reach their darling.” She leaned in close. “And you can’t even ask about them.”

Sitting back up, Lisa continued: “Dr. Sam, you think you know everything. You’re a bit distant, did ya know that? A bit?” She snarled out another laugh. “You’re with me in the room when we meet, but not all the way. Something was occupying you. I felt you pulling away, and as it took you further and further, it made me angrier and angrier. Until you went the whole distance. You’re leaving. I don’t care about any other kooks you ‘take session’ with. You were leaving ME! People leave me all the time. Use me. Toss me aside. Drink makes some of it fuzz away; fucking and fighting take the rest. And then, you.”

Samantha was reeling. Lisa of the three-word sentences, the constant silences: this wasn’t what she expected. Not one bit. She was this wrong?

“Still got nothing? Let me fill you in on a couple of things. The gossip chain went around about how strong I was, getting the upper hand on the Sheriff and his men. Then slipping so fast out of their reach, and staying that way. I heard; practically no one knew me too well. Shades, a hat covering my hair, different clothing; they paid no attention to someone nursing a coffee or a beer.

Have you wondered, Dr. Sam? Miss Ph.D.? How could I do those things? Well, time I filled you in on some truths.”

Samantha stayed silent, listening.

“Not everything you ‘know’ about me is completely true. Yeah, I had one shitty young life. Won’t even call it a childhood. Nothing childlike about it. All that family stuff? True. But my juvie records? Even unsealed they weren’t telling the whole story.

See, my doings pissed off the wrong people. I screwed, then knocked some teeth out, of the wrong guy. I’m in a jail cell, fall asleep, and the next thing I know, I’m waking in a different cell. All glass walls and empty of anything ‘cept me. Empty of my clothes, too. Everything is dark outside of this cage. I screamed, pounded on the glass. Nothing. Not for a long while.

Then the testing began.”

~~~~~

Present Day

It wasn’t pretty, the testing.

It went on too long and way too far.

Lisa wasn’t the only test subject.

Lab 4 was brutal.

There was a car in the woods.

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

Author’s Note:

Hey.

I wasn’t planning to extend this one more day, but…taa daa…this story goes one more day. A story amidst the larger story theme.  Some, and only some, threads start getting pulled together. Some. Not all. Ramifications still need to ensue. Things still need to be discovered. Others may have to kick the bucket. We still have two weeks to go before all is laid out before you.

Shhh. It’s ok. Here’s a nice cup of tea and a plate of cookies.

Tomorrow is another day.

 

 

 

 

 

If You Come To: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

Standard

A Car In The Woods: Chapter Seven

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

AtoZ2019I IF YOU COME TO

 

1967 (continued)

The VW Microbus was idling, the driver focusing the binoculars on the back bedroom window. There. Movement. The curtain was open. Just like it had been for the past week. There was a clear view inside the room. At the angle the VW sat, three-quarters of the room could be seen: the bed, dresser, and door to the hallway.

The redhead walked by the window, stopping just beyond the panes. Ah, the neck brace was gone. This brought a grimace to the driver’s face. Inside, she was taking off her pajamas, getting dressed for the day. No shower, this time. The driver kept watching until the woman opened the room door, walked out, and closing it behind her. Something new came into view: a suitcase came into view. It had been obscured by the door.

The two-tone Bus backed up out of the brush shielding it, turned down the hilly dirt road, and made its way to the house. No one could be seen in front or around the sides. Another plus. They must have given up on patrol. Looking through the bay window, there were three figures sitting down to breakfast. The driver finally paid attention to the grumbling, growling sounds just below. The VW picked up a little speed and left.

“Food first. Then, her,” Lisa thought. She turned the Microbus away from town, heading down the interstate to a diner where no one knew her.

~~~~

“It’s fine. It’s fine, Mom. Just a little sore, that’s all. I’ll live.”

Samantha had been rubbing her neck, which set her mother into protective overdrive. She sat with her parents, at their insistence, staring at the cup of coffee in her hands. They had breakfast in front of them. Her Dad ate sparingly; her mom just moved things around the plate.  She knew her parents were still afraid for her. She was still afraid for herself, but things had to move along. The Sheriff finally calling off his deputy watchdogs didn’t help.

The manhunt for Lisa Davies came to a big nothing. The Davies family lived a county over and had a reputation for hunting out of season, going places they were not supposed to set foot on. They taught Lisa well in that if nothing else. The State Troopers felt she had left the area completely. The Sheriff thought so too and told the Wander family the same. He apologized, again, for not coming through. He’d keep an eye out, meaning his men would drive by every now and then, but there were other matters that had to be seen to.

She laughed, and cringed when he said that.

It didn’t matter, much. Tomorrow she’d be leaving for San Francisco. Vanessa was jumping out of her skin elated. Samantha had to let her be excited for both of them for a while. She felt numb inside when the fear didn’t take over. At this point, she wished she was already on the plane.

The day was spent packing. Samantha had to remind herself that this wasn’t just a trip. She was leaving. Moving. Samantha sat on her bed looking around her room. The piles of clothes, her books, her LP’s, all her things. Her mother, who stayed home to help her and spend as much time together as possible, came in with an old camp trunk. The one suitcase wasn’t enough. It was all too much, too overwhelming.  Her mom sat down next to her and hugged her. They shed tears together as they leaned into each other.

Things changed in a New York minute once evening settled around them.

Samantha’s dad insisted they go out for dinner; a celebratory and farewell gesture. Reluctantly she agreed. She chose a restaurant a few towns south simply because she did not want to rehash anything from the incident. The people in town meant well, but.

The night was chillier than she thought. As her parents walked to the car, she stepped back inside the hallway and took a jacket off of the coat rack. A honk, her dad, got her out of the house, putting the jacket on as she walked to the car.

A squeal of tires sounded out from just beyond their yard. She couldn’t see anything, the streetlights not yet turned on. Then it got louder as it got closer. It was a Hippie Van, and it was heading right towards them. No. It was on a clear path towards the family car.

“Mom! Dad!” Samantha yelled in vain, as the Microbus T-boned their Pontiac. It backed up, coming closer to Samantha. She was frozen to the spot. The driver’s door was flung open, and the driver sprang out, running towards her.

Lisa. It was Lisa. Samantha was having trouble processing what was going on. Her thoughts were strangling any cognitive information. It was only seconds, but they were gone in a flash. Lisa wound her arm back and punched her in the face. Samantha collapsed into unconsciousness.

It would be some time before she came to.

 

Present Day

If only Samantha heeded Dylan Thomas.

“Do not go gentle into that good night” he wrote.

If only she had said: “No, I don’t want to go out.”

Would it have changed the outcome?

We’ll never know.

There was a car in the woods.

 

 

Deviate: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

Standard

 

A Car In The Woods: Chapter Three

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

 

AtoZ2019D       DEVIATE

1963

“I’m sorry, Mom. Deb’s coat and stuff were all over my things,” Timmy whined in the back of the station wagon, twelve years old but sounding like he did when he was seven. Schatzi sprawled over Timmy’s legs, panting while her head was scratched. The family’s German Shepherd was watching out the window, her head resting on Timmy’s shoulder.

Up front, fourteen-year-old Deb yelled back: “Shut up, Dweeb. It’s your fault we missed the bus and Mom has to drive us to school.”

“Debra! Enough. The two of you. The roads are treacherous enough without you two bickering.”

Deb crossed her arms and threw herself back against the seat. She hated her full name, ever since her Bobbsey Twins started stretching her sweaters. “Hey, Bra,” the boys called outgoing from class to class. Since the name game, it lessened a bit, until one teacher or the other called out her full name.

Shaking her head, Patricia kept her eyes on the road. The snow from late yesterday hadn’t been too bad, but it was wet snow and turned to ice by the time morning came. Timmy couldn’t find his boots, then his gloves, while Debra. Deb. She had to remember so there wouldn’t be any more hysterics.

Deb had been taking her time coming downstairs. After the third call, Patricia went upstairs, knocked and opened the door, and froze in the doorway as Deb was finishing putting makeup on. A bit of yelling, tears, enough “but everyone is doing it” claims, confiscation of said makeup, the siege of the makeup removal, the door slam as Patricia went back downstairs, with the worst to come: the first “I HATE YOU!”

The bus had come and gone way before either of them were ready to leave the house.

Patricia had let the Impala warm up before she started to honk the horn. Timmy came out first, Schatzi following, and the two of them jumped into the back of the wagon and settled down. Deb followed, head down, taking her time. Patricia honked the horn one more time, to little effect.

The roads were slow going as it was; Patricia eased the Impala along, making time add up as she slowed around the bend. She heard a bark from the back, then another, with Timmy trying to shush her. Deb just let out a drawn-out sigh.

Schatzi’s barking increased, ricocheting through the wagon’s cabin. Patricia eyed the rear view mirror. Schatzi was standing, muzzle pressed against the rear window. Timmy had scooted over, the attempt to calm her a losing battle.

“Shut that dog up,” yelled Deb, turning around to glare at her brother.

Just before she had a chance to say anything, a large Poplar tree came crashing down on the road, its heavy top hitting the end of the station wagon. The impact sent the Impala spinning, three full revolutions across the iced road surface. It spiraled off the road a distance away from the tree, and then slid down into a shallow ravine. With a hefty “THUNK” the front end became embedded in a huge slushy drift of snow.

The snow saved their lives.

She and Deb had hit their heads, thrown forward when the wagon met snow. Timmy yelled that he was OK. Schatzi whimpered a bit before she started barking again.

Patricia tried to start the car, but nothing happened. Inside, she was cursing, words she had heard from her father and Eddie, her late husband. She’d never said them out loud before until an explosive “Shit!” escaped from her lips. Deb smiled. Timmy’s mouth dropped open just enough. Schatzi tilted her head one way, then the other.

“You got her to stop barking, Mom,” Deb piped up.

Getting out of the vehicle and slamming the door was the only retort she felt safe in giving. Walking to the front, Patricia tried moving some of the snow out of the way with her hands. She barely made a dent. Continuing, Patricia heard two doors open and closed behind her. Deb and Timmy joined in, both on the other side. Looking back, Schatzi was still inside, barking her head off.

They were able to clear away enough snow so the hood could be opened. The front was pushed inwards, bending the radiator. Timmy had been looking under the chassis and found a growing pool of oil.

As he stood, he noticed the hands on the hips posture his mom took when she was very angry. He kept quiet but realized there was something else going on. Deb was just being Deb, so he ignored her. But mom was shaking just a teeny-tiny bit, biting her lips that were pulled inwards. This frightened him just as much as the crash did.

Looking beyond the wreck, Patricia came to a decision.

“We are not going anywhere with the Impala. The sun is warming things up enough so we won’t freeze to death. Yet.” Deb rolled her eyes to the sky. Patricia noticed.

“Deb, you and Timmy stay inside the wagon. It’ll warm up under the sun enough.” She looked at her son who was just on the point of opening his mouth. “Yes, Schatzi stays with you.” Mouth closed again. “You both have your lunches. Please share some with her, but not enough so you don’t get enough. Am I clear?”

They both nodded.

“I’m going to go back to the main road and flag anyone who is out driving. If we are lucky, Dave and his plow truck will come by, looking for  snow removal work. Timmy,” she said, “Schatzi will need to be walked. Do NOT go far from Deb and the Impala. Understood?”

He nodded, looking a tad guilty. Of course, he wanted to go exploring with his dog. She hoped he’d listen this time.

“I’ll come back in an hour if no one is on the road. If we have to, we’ll hike it into town.” With that, she zipped up to her neck, wove a woolen scarf that had been left in the car around her face, and pulled the hood of her parka over her head. A quick goodbye and a “listen to your sister” saw her climbing up the ravine, her feet and hands using exposed tree roots for a ladder.

Then it was quiet.

Schatzi had lain down in the back and Timmy joined her. She wasn’t asleep. He noticed she was very alert. Waiting. Some sub-vocal growls wafted out here and there. Timmy joined her, dog cuddling, and closed his eyes.

Deb had come back inside. It was too cold still, sun or no sun. Like her mother, she zipped, tugged, and folded herself into her winter wear. Every five minutes she’d glance at her Timex. Fifteen minutes had passed. She felt like she wanted to scream. Or cry. Or both. Timmy started to snore; Schatzi joined in. Deb smiled and closed her eyes.

The closing of the back door woke her up. Turning around, she could see Timmy through the window. Holding something high, he was laughing as Schatzi jumped up and took something from his hand. “Goofball is feeding him. Good,” she said to herself, yawning. Looking at her Timex, she jumped out of the seat and out of the wagon.

Coming around the back, Timmy lost his laugh when he saw her face. Schatzi went stiff, her tail drooping between her hind legs.

“What’s up, doc?”

“You idiot. We’ve been asleep for almost two hours. Have you seen Mom?”

He shook his head, looking around.

“Take your lunch. I’ll get mine. She should have been back already.”

For once, Timmy didn’t argue with her. He grabbed his lunch box, giving some more food to Schatzi. He’d lost his appetite.

“Come on. Let’s go find her.”

“But,” was all he got out before she started to climb out of the ravine. He followed, taking one last look at the wrecked Impala.

Present Day

Schatzi found something.

There’s more to this story.

There was a car in the woods.

An Ear For It

Standard

An Ear For It7198618-abstract-illustration-of-a-grunge-g-clef

“Ladies, gentlemen, Willkommen! And Bienvenue! Welcome! I am your hostess, Ginny Sinclair.” She paused for applause, or some recognition. “Thank you. Well, you are all in for a treat tonight, and I am glad you have taken that step, that chance, to fill your hearts with the music of love among those who love music. Welcome, to our twelfth “Speed Dating for Songbirds!” If I may paraphrase Pablo Picasso: “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

“Our previous get-togethers have helped many of the participants find their perfect duet partner; Contraltos find their Altos, Bassos harmonious with the Sopranos of their dreams. Tonight, I’m sure many of you will get to star in your own Musical of Love.”

Ginny looked out at her crowd. Many were obviously nervous, with a few more put-upon faces dotting around. The smiles of anticipation filled her enough. She hoped. Each gathering drew smaller crowds. Ginny smiled with outer confidence as she walked in the light of the room, her red dress’s sequins casting out tiny bursts, her idea of enchanting them all. Herself as well, as her insides were wavering and withering, counting how many First Seating envelopes she was passing out to the men and women.

Brave face on, she continued her spiel. “I’m glad, so many of you partook of the lovely Italian buffet that Mrs. Chang laid out for us tonight.” A smattering of applause went round, as Mrs. Chang went into the kitchen to take a nap. “Just a reminder, the food is included in your admission price, sadly the wine is not, but…” She looked around, making sure to make eye contact with all, “…but, your hearts, ears, and voices, they are the main course.

Please open your envelopes. They have your Opening Numbers seating. The first of your heartstrings to be plucked. Let the beautiful music of this night begin.” As the assemblage started to make their ways, she added: “Break a leg, but not a heart.”

Charles still had his small plate of linguini with, he thought, clam sauce, in his right hand. The left held a glass of red wine and the envelope. He fumbled a bit, trying to spill or drop anything, finally managing to open the envelope. Pulling out and unfolding it, he looked at a musical notation sheet. Charles saw that he had to find the Middle C/Treble Clef table. It was clever, he thought, and frustrating at the same time. The lighting had lowered when the hostess finished her into.

He was hoping to find the compliment to his clean Tenor. Looking around, he didn’t notice that he was walking right towards Ginny until he bumped into her, spilling some of his wine, dropping the sheet of paper, and almost dumping his plate of linguini. Her red sequins glittered across his face, hiding his blush, as they both knelt, gingerly, to retrieve the seating invitation.

Their heads bumped into each other.

His “ouch” came at the same time as hers, causing them to hold. There was a melding, a perfect counterpoint to the other, rich and, he felt, melodious. They grinned, stood, and Ginny pointed Charles in the correct direction. He nodded his thanks and set off to the table that had been right behind him.

Charle’s first partner was already waiting at the table. Leaning away from the table, he noticed the amount of black she sported, from hair to makeup to dress to fingernail polish. It was those nails that took in his attention as he sat and introduced himself. Silence, except for the drumming of her right hand’s nails on the tabletop, a staccato version of Mahler’s “Ich bin der Welt Abhanden Gekommen.”

“Yeah, I’m lost to the world, too,” he thought. He introduced himself again. A long rest took place as she stopped tapping, placing her hand flat down. He waited for the return name. Instead, she took a deep breath, held it, and then purred belted out part of a musical number from “Damn Yankees.”

“Hi, Lola,” Charles answered, glad she forewent the Kinks song. So, he wanted to keep this going, took his deep breath, and sang out “I am the very model of a modern Major-General, I’ve information vegetable, animal and min…”

“DING! DING”

Ginny had rung the bell by her side. “Gentlemen, please move to the table to your right.”

As he got up to move, Charles saw Lola look over to her next. He didn’t say anything as he moved along.

The rest of the evening proceeded to fumble along. Every opening number was met with an interlude, some dialogue, a parting, and the next act would be dinged to change scenes. Some of the women there was really nice harmony going on, meshing but falling flat by the ring of the bell. Others were audition nightmares. Off tempo, musicals versus opera, pop versus blues, folk versus death metal; world apart styles.

In the end, he was a solo act again.

Charles realized he still had his plate of linguini, ice cold now and congealed. He had brought it table to table, losing the wine glass somewhere along the way.

A shrill “You leave. Now!” brought his attention to Mrs. Chang by the kitchen, bus bin on a table to her right where she was flicking ashes from her cigarette as she pointed to it.

Charles quickly moved to deposit the plate and food. At the same time, Ginny, who had been busing the tables at the end, came quasi-running with a single glass that held no wine, not even a drop.

They bumped into each other again. Again, their “Ouch!” rang out true, blending and moving into laughter. Apologizing to each other they continued to laugh.

Mrs. Chang harrumphed and moved them along, locking the door to her restaurant behind them. If they had looked, they would have seen her mouthing something that could have been a song, but in reality, was a string of very inventive curse words.

Ginny and Charles stood there on the sidewalk, smiles plastered on their faces that were slowly starting to fade. It was late, very little foot or car traffic around them. The awkward silence that dropped around them was broken by squealing brakes caused by the traffic light turning red. The glow from the headlights surrounded them.

Charles mouth quirked shyly upwards. Looking at Ginny, he thought of a song by Chicago that had held him ever since he first heard it. “Nothing to lose,” he thought, and began to sing:

After all that we’ve been through
I will make it up to you, I promise to…”

Ginny’s smile resurfaced as he sang. She picked up the next two lines:

And after all that’s been said and done
You’re just the part of me I can’t let go.”

They finished the song together in perfect mellifluousness.

“Greetings To You, Whoever You Are” : #FridayFictioneers

Standard

jhc-asylum

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Greetings To You, Whoever You Are

[*The following BabbelFish translation: EstProcul; Dwarf Planet; Temperat System]

Hover Hold set. Primary observation mode enacted.”

“There’s something not seen every day.”

“What is, Supreme Commander?”

“These. Jumping on each other, rolling, making noises, [untranslatable].”

“Disgusting, Supreme Commander.”

“Quite.”

“Supreme. That one moved. It has inserted a tube in the other.”

“Feeding?”

“So it appears, Supreme. Data lacking. Wait; they’re [untranslatable] again.”

“My OralArms [best translation] writhe. This gives a feeling of [untranslatable] and [untranslatable].”

“Home, Supreme?”

“Yes. No. Wait. What the [untranslatable]? Jaunt now. Jaunt!”

“Jaunting, Supreme. Passing Heliopause…now.”

“Deviants. ‘Greetings to you, whoever you are’ my [untranslatable]. Ha!”

*************************************************************
Author’s Note:

OK: I saw the thing outside the window, and this is where my mind went: alien spacecraft. BTW, they are undocumented, so shhhhh.

The title is one of the greetings on the Golden Disc inside Discovery, launched 1977. Where it all winds up, no one knows.

It’s #Friday Fictioneers prompt time, as always created and hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog, Addicted To Purple.

The rules are simple if you’d like to join in:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt (goes up on Wednesday).
    2. Write a 100 word story, complete with beginning, middle, and end.
    3. Make every word count.
    4. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor of the photo credit.
  1. Add the InLinkz button (below) so your readers can find the dozens of other bloggers who have taken up this challenge.

Djinn Can Only: #FridayFictioneers

Standard

nick-allen-from-sandra-c

PHOTO PROMPT © Nick Allen

Djinn Can Only

“You said my wish is your command!”

“No, I did not.”

“Did!”

“I did not. Obviously, you misheard.”

“DIDN’T!”

“I said: ‘YOUR wish is MY command.’ Very clear. Wording, you know.”

~ ~~ ~ ~

“Yes?”

“Then grant my…um…the wish.”

“Sorry. I can not.”

“What? You just said…”

“I can not grant unlimited wishes with your one wish. Beyond the scope of Wish Granting Regulations. One wish for one thing.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Umm…”

“Think well and true.”

“One wish?”

“One.”

~~~ ~~~ ~~

“I wish…my life was sweetly pleasurable! HAH!”

“As you wish.”

Djinn savored the pastry cream and shell.

*************************************************************
Author’s Note:

It’s #Friday Fictioneers prompt time, as always created and hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog, Addicted To Purple.

The rules are simple if you’d like to do this:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt (goes up on Wednesday).
    2. Write a 100 word story, complete with beginning, middle, and end.
    3. Make every word count.
    4. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor of the photo credit.
  1. Add the InLinkz button (below) so your readers can find the dozens of other bloggers who have taken up this challenge.