Category Archives: Paranormal

Take Care: A Tale of the Abysmal Dollhouse

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Wheelchair

 

The storm clouds had moved along with the wind, leaving behind a still, grey day. The heavy downpour had come down on a slant, washing the dusty windows of shop. The glass glistened as the headlights of passing cars fractured off the puddles, the brief flashing of light creating a strobe effect on the items on display. Dollhouses littered the shelving: Victorian, Tudor, Colonial, Craftsman, and an Abbey. All stood at a slant, showing the open side, the rooms, staircases, floors. The placement also allowed the outside features to shine, the gables, balconies, bay windows, and wrap-around porches, adorned with miniature plants, rocking chairs, and welcome mats.

The bright reflective bursts caught the eye of Mark, who was passing by, but at a slow steady pace. His head had been turned to the ground, hands in his pants pockets, shoulders taught. The light drew his eye to the display, and his feet followed. He studied each house, taking in the details, admiring the color scheme of some, others the aesthetic beauty of the architecture. Mark’s wandering eyes and feet led him to the door to the shop. It was a plain glass door, wooden frame, with nothing to announce the name of the place of business. He found his hand reaching for the door handle, but he really couldn’t figure out why.

Behind the glass, behind the dollhouses, The Shopkeeper had been watching Mark as he viewed her safe houses, appraising him, the way he observed, his slow steady examination of her wares. She checked the dark corners of the shoppe and let out a wistful sigh. Some of the houses hungered, and she wished them appeasement, yet this man was not for them. The Shopkeeper shushed them before Mark had completed turning the door handle and entered, the action causing the hanging doorbell to sound.

The Shopkeeper took in his appearance, which through the window gave him a yellow/sepia hue. Inside, things did not change all that drastically. While he took a few steps in, looking around, she observed his color choices were dull, and his clothing, while well kept, was far from being stylish. He looked lived in and comfortable in what he wore, but his body language suggested more.

“May I help you?”, she asked.

Mark looked up from the Carriage House he was staring at. “No, thank you. I…I’m just looking, I guess.” He paused, his shoulders frowning, turning his head to the left, away from the Shopkeeper. “I’m not even sure why I came in. Dollhouses,” he swept his arms, palms up, around the room, “are not really an interest of mine. My ex was into it, and my daughter. Mom, too.” Mark shrugged his shoulders. “Sorry. Not sure why I’m telling you any of this. Is it OK if I just look around?”

The Shopkeeper nodded, picking up her duster, for there was always dust in the shop. The flakes swirled in the sun beams as they slanted through the windows. Today, they weren’t visible…until it settled down on top of the many surfaces. Mark brought in his own dust trail, and he was leaving it around the shop as he went from dollhouse to dollhouse. She followed him out of the corner of her eyes, marking where she had to concentrate on dusting, later.

She heard him stop walking. His shoes had been making a tap tap tapping as he walked; when he stood still to look, and he bent down, the shoes gave a little squeak, adjusting to the new stance. This time, it was a full stop. No noise from his shoes. No “hmmm” or “huh?” or just regular breathing. Stillness. The Shopkeeper turned and looked at Mark.

He was frozen in front of a traditional style dollhouse. Two floors, an attic with dormer, wide porch, shutters on the windows, wood detailing, the front door with two windows on either side and five windows on top, with the middle window directly above the door. The house in pristine white paint. Mark was staring hard. He gasped for air, realizing he had been holding his breath.

Turning the house around, he let out another slight gasp. “My house. This…is my house.” He stood up, looked around, found The Shopkeeper. “How? This is my house.”

The Shopkeeper walked over to stand by his side. He followed her as she bent down to look inside the house, adjusting it so they faced it squarely on. Mark began to point out some of the details to her. The layout was the same. The decor, the same:  paneling in the dining room, the soft blue scalloped floral pattern wallpaper that ran from the front door to the kitchen, up the stairway to the halls on the second floor, the wood floors with it’s various rugs and runners. The tables, chairs, sofa: same as it ever was.

Mark forced himself to look at the bedrooms, the ones on the second floor, and the den that had been converted to one on the first floor. He reached into his room, stopping to look at The Shopkeeper, waiting for permission. She stood, did a light dusting sweep of the houses’ roof, and moved back to the front of the shop. Mark bent back down and touched the bed. It felt soft and inviting.

His eyes and hands traversed through each room, taking in the memories each invoked. The kids room, converted from the guest room after his divorce, was as they had left it after they both stopped coming, college then marriages, ending their obligations to be there, to be with him weekly. His parent’s bedroom, full of his mothers’ things, which she valued above anything else most of the time. The walk-in closet crammed with her clothing, shoes, pocketbooks, hats. Her cane leaning against the nightstand.

Mark kept his eye on the cane for a short while. He started to reach in but stopped, closing his eyes, his right hand locked just outside of the room. He breathed in deeply, letting the air escape slowly. Three times. Opening his eyes, he moved his arm.

Piece by piece, Mark removed items from her room, placing them down on the side of the dollhouse shelf. The dressers, the rocking chair, foot stool, pictures hanging on the walls, the bed, night table, the cane. He emptied the closet of all the clothing, making neat piles on the shelf next to the furniture. He was looking at an empty room, save for the wallpaper she loved. Mark stripped that off carefully, leaving the white walls underneath without blemish as best he could.

The kids bedroom was next. It was easier to strip away everything in there, things that would never be used again. Removing everything on the second floor, leaving his room alone. Marks’ excavation, of digging down to the basis of the home, continued downstairs. He methodically removed the items and decor from the living room, foyers, kitchen.

The bedroom nee den stopped Mark dead in his tracks. His eyes got blurry, wet, forcing him to wipe at his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt. Leaning against the back wall was another cane, next to a walker, next to a wheelchair, next to an oxygen tank. The hospital bed was in the center of the room, which had been denuded, sterilized down to it’s bare bones.

Mark knelt on the floor, slightly rocking back and forth on his heels.  “Sorry, Dad,” he whispered, as he cleansed the room as he had done with the others. When he finally took the hospital bed out of the room, he held it up, examined it, had trouble putting it down, but he eventually did.

While this last task was going on, he had faintly heard The Shopkeeper moving around him. Looking down once the room was emptied, he noticed that all of the familial life pieces had been removed. In their place was new furniture, the stuff one fills a house and makes it a home. Mark wasn’t too surprised to see that it all was in his tastes, design and color.

He filled up the house quickly. Mark moved his things into his parents’ room, adding a few new things that he found left for him. The kids room was returned to guest room status, and he transformed his own room into a second. He moved to the first floor, laying down wall to wall carpeting, then bringing in the chairs, tables, sofa, big comfy chairs with big comfy pillows, large screen TV and fixings.

Mark took his time when it came to refurbish the bottom bedroom back into a den. Executive office chair, desk, computer, stuffed full bookcases and shelving. It was comfortable, and he finally relaxed.

The doorbell rang. Mark got up from the padded chair, walking towards it in his socks only, not wanting to mar the new carpeting. As he got closer to the door, he noticed a familiar face peering in through the left side window at the door. Mark stopped short. He hadn’t seen her in years, lost touch with her, missed her all this time.

He reached out and opened the door.

“Donna.”

She smiled at him, bottom teeth still slightly crooked, head tilted to her right, eyes shining. She had on the red dress and white stockings with red hearts on them, the same as she wore that one Valentines Day.

“Are you going to invite me in?,” she asked.

Mark did, watched her walk a few steps down the hall and into the living room.

“I really like what you did with the place,” she said, whirling around. “Feels like home.”

Mark smiled deeply and went to join her.

The Shopkeeper turned the dollhouse around, the front facade facing out towards the aisle. She gave them the privacy they both deserved.

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Author’s Note:

I haven’t written a “The Abysmal Dollhouse” tale in quite awhile. It has been a favorite of mine of the different story line themes that I’ve come back to explore. If you’re new to these tales, here are two links to check out:

What We Hold Onto

The Abysmal Dollhouse: Collected (sort of)

I hope you enjoy them. When I can force myself to write, I still feel there is more to tell.

Let me know what you think.

Stuck in L

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The-letter-the-alphabet-22187428-2560-2560

 

My love life has been surrounded by women whose names started with the letter L. Yes, there have been other alphabetical choices, but L’s seem to prevail. There’s been Lynette, Leslie, Laura, Lucy, Lisa, Lori, Lindsey, Linda, and even a Lola. I know I’m a man; Lola wasn’t. Boy, she wasn’t. I’m sure there were a few others who I’ve simply forgotten, but in the end, I’ve had my fair share of L. No matter. None of them ever prepared me for Lili. I can’t even begin…well, not true. How do I skirt around a cliche? My life has never been the same since I met Lili.

I was on my bike, a Yamaha YZF-R6 that I called Yaz, going home after an uninspired date. Not an L, that I know. It was two in the morning, and the Merritt Parkway was almost car free. I was going fast, keeping an eye out for speed traps; I knew where most of them were, traveling this road so often in my life. It was cop free that night. Connecticut sleeps, unlike New York. I revved Yaz up to the century mark. We whizzed along the road, passing trees and the few cars on the parkway. This more than made up for a so so date.

Until I noticed headlights in my mirror that were getting closer. Thinking COP, I slowed down, knowing it would not be enough to avoid a ticket. But, no flashing lights. No megaphone voice telling me to pull over. The lights were catching up to me, low to the ground, and then it passed me on the left. As it pulled ahead I noticed a very quick two blinks of the brake lights. The car sped ahead, slowed a bit, two quick bursts of brake lights, then speeding on. I took the hint.

We played taking lead, overpowering the other, back and forth, for miles. The car was in the lead when a new light appeared, the right blinker. The last gas station/rest area was coming up, the one that’s just before the NYS border. I clutched and braked Yaz down and followed the car to the parking area.

It pulled into the spot furthest away from the station/mini mart. I parked right next to the car I’d been having fun with, giving out a little happy gasp as I took my helmet off. Didn’t need one in CT, but I was heading to NY. The car was gorgeous: a bright yellow Lotus Evora 400. A car I’ve been drooling over. Well, one of them. We were at too high a speed for me to notice anything really more than the color, but now…

But now the driver door opened. The gasp I had for the car was amplified by the woman that stepped out. Long black hair ran down and over her shoulders was the first thing I noticed. Then the smile. It radiated a lot of things; well, in my mind, and other parts, it did. She was wearing sunglasses (2:00 am, remember) that only accented how beautiful she was, eyes or not. Black buttoned down shirt was equally unbuttoned as buttoned, and painted on looking black jeans. Boots. Goth to the extreme, but she wore it better than well.

She leaned against her car and beckoned me over. Beckoned. I’d never been beckoned like this before. We exchanged names, admired each other’s driving, me admiring a whole lot more. Lili? I’m not a mind reader, but if you judge by where we went from there, she was doing the same. Talking turned to kissing, kissing turned to other things. We were both sweaty and smiling when Lili got a serious angry face going.

“Davey, this has been lovely, but you need to get out of here. Now.”

Rude shock, but there was something in her voice that was more urgent than anything else. I backed away, adjusting my clothing, trying to adjust the very mixed feelings I was having.

“Now, Davey. Now!”

Helmet in hand, I watched her as she opened her car door. That was as far as she got before a really terrifying animal growl sounded. That was followed by the biggest, meanest looking dog I’d ever seen. Then, another one. They came out of the wooded area behind the station and lopped rather quickly towards us. I wasn’t watching Lili at the moment as one of those things came towards me.

It leapt over the Lili’s car and came right at me. Only thing I could think of was hitting it in the head with my helmet. A quick not-even-a-yelp came out, and then a very angry snarl was directed at me as it landed behind me. I was at a loss as to what to do. Bike was off and cold, I had no weapons beyond my helmet. I turned slightly to see what was happening with Lili.

What was more surprising? These two beasts coming at us, or seeing Lili holding off the one, her hands on both parts of its jaws, pulling them further and further apart. Just as I heard a squeal coming from her beast, mine decided I was game, fair or not.

The blow to my back knocked me down and almost out. I rolled over onto my back and shoved my helmet into it’s maw as it came for my face. Believe me, having a death grip on that helmet saved my lift. Jamming the piece further into the mutts’ mouth, I did the only thing I could think of: try to Mountain it.

Just saw the episode of Game of Thrones where the Mountain killed his opponent by squeezing a guys head real hard, pushing his thumbs into the eyes. Gore and victory ensured on the show, so…why not? Reaching up while the thing continued to chomp down on my helmet, I started to push as hard as I could once I had my hands in the right position.

It wasn’t easy, by no stretch of the imagination. I was hurting the thing, but I wasn’t winning. Victory was definitely not ensured. I head the helmet crack, gave a big prayer, dug in harder…and then poof.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Except, Lili was standing over me, holding a very wicked looking knife like thing that glittered. She held out her hand and helped me up. Lili gave me a once over, running her hands over me, kinda like she had before the attack, but in no way sensual. I felt OK after that, but also weak once the adrenaline rush wore off. I was just about to ask her what was going on, when another growly voice sounded, this one not from an animal.

“Mother, congratulations.” Which did not sound congratulatory in the least.

“Buzz off, B,” Lili said, still checking me out. “I’m very, very sick and tired of this game you insist on playing”

“It’s not a game, Mother, and you know that. One day, and soon, you will pay for your insults.”

Lili just smiled, waved her hand in the air above her floating hair. Yes, floating hair. No wind. Floating. But it fell down, cascading over her shoulders again. I could sense that whatever had been there wasn’t here now.

Before I could ask any “What? Huh? Who? What?”, Lili put her hand on my chest and closed her eyes. I felt a bit of a tremble inside, something clicked, and, well, things were different.

Lili got into her Lotus; I got onto my Yamaha. She pulled out of the lot, and I followed her. As I continue to do.

This was how I met and became involved with Lili.

Lilith.

Mother of Demons.

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Author’s Note:

So, hi. A to Z Blog challenge is over two weeks ago. I needed a bit of a mental break. I kept getting messages to write more, continue more Rovas & Berrak, but…not right now.

I plan to do a bit more with Lili and Davey. Let me know what you think

From the case files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

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walkinginthedark

Darkness suited ex-Inspector Khazarian Rovas. He liked the quiet it normally brought, a certain breeze that drifted through most nights except for the height of the summer months. Then he was usually drenched, having trouble breathing during the ofttimes stiffing still air. Early spring, now, and the insufferable weather was still to come. Tonight, he could enjoy sitting by his open window, lights off, breathing the coolness in, and allowing his out breath fog up the lowest corner of the window pane. Waiting.

But for the wishes of his wife, Berrak, Rovas would still be on the job. He never thought he would retire, that one way or the other the job would be where he would part this life. Berrak thought differently, and although she never demanded, he saw the clarity of her spoken thoughts. He loved her, she him, and it was that love that carried him to hand in his resignation. Forty-four years, the ups and downs of any job, acknowledgments and failures, all reduced to farewell handshakes, some drinks, rehashing of spectacular cases-solved or unsolved-and the drive home, with the few personal items from his desk in the boot.

It was the rehashing of cases that brought Rovas to his study, to his window, at 4:10 in the morning. Eight days had passed, but those memories of cases that were not, to him, satisfactorily closed, haunted his waking hours. He thought of the cases, twenty six in all, that still niggled at the back of his mind. He owed Berrak time that she was excluded from during his career, and he vowed to himself he would do his best to give her what she needed from him.

But those cases…those cases…

Outside his window Khazarian Rovas noticed a silhouette of a man briskly walking, back to Rovas, down the street, hands in his pockets, head cast down, fading down the street horizon. Ruminating, Rovas had not noticed the man until now. He had no idea where he came from, just observing this figure in darkness fading smaller and further away, until only a haze of an outline was visible. In a blink, the walking man was gone.

Rovas got up from his chair, turning it around to face his desk. Turning on the table lamb, he stared down at the pile of folders on the right side of his desk. Twenty six folders.

Sitting, he took the top file, placed it in front of him, opened it, and began to review this troublesome case file.

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Hi everyone. I’m sure you’ve noticed I have been away for quite awhile on any regular basis. Things happened in my life that took me out of the mood. I’m trying to see what I can do to mend that break within me.

I just rejoined the Blogging from A to Z challenge. Lots of positive things changed for me with the first one I was part of in 2011. Sadly, that did not last the lifetime I had hoped it would be. In either case, I am back.

“The case files of Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Twenty six case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve from this list of cold cases. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

 So, join me (and the over 1600 other blogs involved) starting on April 1, 2016. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy what I’ve got planned.

Dead End (SIGNS; A to Z Challenge)

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Dead EndHaunting did not come with a manual. That had infuriated Ana after she became aware of her new “life.” It  turned to anger, which became wearisome, and then settled into a heightened state of constantly being chagrined.

Stumbling upon things: her best friend (Di) and her husband (Tim) “comforting” each other just a day after the funeral; her son, being that “mean  bastard” she had heard but never wanted to believe; friends and relatives who stopped calling Tim less than a week after she was “gone.”

This cul-de-sac needed a good haunting. Ana was determined to give it her all.

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For the April 2014 A to Z Blog Challenge, you will find a story a day (except Sundays) from me. A to Z: Staring with A on Tuesday, April 1st and ending with Z on Wednesday, April 30th.

Signs is my theme for this year’s outing. Road signs, building signs, warning signs…Signs alert us to a multitude of messages. My plan is to use the alphabet through Signage, but not to stick to what the sign was originally intended to convey. So, the genre of story writing, and styles, of the posts will vary as my mood and interpretation sees fit. Possibly a poem or two. We’ll see.

I’m also trying something more of a challenge: each post will be a Drabble. A Drabble is 100 Words Exactly.

Hope you enjoy the stories.

Came The Wind

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leavesThe golden, brittle leaf brushed over the top of her shoe, resting  in mid air for a moment. Another gust blew, picking up the leaf and spiraling it away, under a sky filled with darkened clouds. Alice shivered in her coat, the hem overlapping her knee high skirt. She bunched the top together, clutching it closed, having already pulled up the collar. She stared down at the marble and stone work that lay around her, the past staring back up at her. More leaves blew past her and the others, milling around for a moment, then taking off to skitter across the grounds.

The side comments seemed endless to Alice. A few suffered in silence, getting hugged, heads leaning against shoulders for support, comfort. Alice drifted from one group to another, paying attention to the tone of the voices more than the actual words. The elder set, the few who could barely walk, stayed by the cars. They huddled near the aunt who always needed to be the center of attention, her husky voice talking about anything but what lay before them. A few tears, clutched tissues, and a dreary day filled them all.

The service done, the discussions turned to who was following whom, where they were going, who had to leave. Hugs and kisses were passed around, and the car doors opened, and then closed. One by one, the cars pulled away.

Alice looked on. As the last car left, a vortex of leaves swirled together in the spot left vacant, a mini tornado of golds and oranges and browns. Alice turned to watch the receding tail lights pass through the gates.

The leaves dropped to the ground.

Imprint of a Bad Dream

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Three a.m., and Rachel woke suddenly, feeling as if an arm had withdrawn, a body, light,  pressed against her. Her heart pounding, Rachel turned away from the wall and searched the darkness. She should be alone, had been alone, for a long time now. No arms draped around her, no heat generating body snuggled in such a familiar way, no touch, no caress, nothing. Laying on her back, the clock light the only illumination in the room, the only sounds the passing of a car, then others…Rachel was aware of being the sole occupant in her bed.

Why, then, did she still feel like she’s still being held?

Tossing and turning, the night crawls by. Her pulse rate takes its time in returning to a relative state of normal, chest finally relaxing where she no longer feels like her rib cage would expand to bursting. Sleep comes, but is interrupted often by a quick wake up, startled, flipping over, wrapping her sheet around her, kicking off the blanket, putting the blanket back on. Three and a half hours pass this way.

Rachel slams the alarm button, and the clattering noise stops and leaves her hearing her own ragged, panting breath. The left eye hurts, the right one not much better. She rubs them with the palms of her hands, and they tear when she blinks them open again. Massaging her temples, Rachel puts her feet in her slippers and gets up off the bed. It takes a second to balance herself.

Her morning rituals go without a hitch. Rachel is on auto-pilot, showering, dressing and completing all her needs in the correct order, as she’s done for so many years, and while this stabilizes her, at the back of her mind she can not get over the feeling of the arm, the hand, the fingers splayed upon her back. “A dream” she says to herself. “A nightmare.” Shrugging it off, Rachel leaves to, as she sees it, truly begin her day.

It is one disaster after another. Stress piled on top of anxiety on top of belittlement, with a dash of confusion, worry and angst blended in to the mix. The car that cuts her off; the boss reaming her out; the phone call not returned; the splatter of grease from her lunch on her suit; the call that interrupts; her mother; the co-worker; the bill that she thought she paid; the smile not returned; the feeling that she still has not shaken off the nightmare grope, what it meant, why it still is touching her.

She feels as if she carries around an imprint of the appendage from the night, that it is affecting her day by rippling out to those around her. Rachel sees a grasping, a clutching that cuts off anything from running smoothly, the same old same old to the unexpected. It tightens and pulls, runs strangle holds over thought processes, thumps speeds bumps into her path. She was physically exhausted from lack of sleep already; Rachel felt, by end of her work day, completely beaten up, drained of energy, worn out, worthless.

Her briefcase, shoes, stained suit, shirt, stockings, bra and panties are scattered from the front door of her apartment to the bathroom. That was not like the normal Rachel, the put together Rachel, the almost OCD Rachel, the orderly, neat and clean obsessed Rachel. That Rachel had a phantom arm around her throat, constricting her every movement.

The shower head pumps out steaming hot water, the mirror fogs up in seconds. Soon her white skin is pink, turning to red, and it gets to the point where she almost screams that she feels the limb dissolve, melting away in the heat, running down the drain with the too hot water. Rachel presses herself against the tiles, cold on her back, fiery blast assaulting her front. Closing her eyes, she stands there until the pain finally reaches her, and she stumbles to turn off the left faucet, letting icy water race down her torso, genitalia  and legs.

Eleven p.m., and Rachel has finally made her way to her bed. Before this it was  mindless TV watching on the couch, huddled in her pj’s and terry cloth robe, nursing a beer along the way while she downed a few shots of Tequila. Her normal to bed time went by an hour ago, and she knew she could not put it off any longer. Two days of little to no sleep would do her no good, nor would two days in a row of being batted around by others, and herself.

Lying on her back, eyes wide open, Rachel checked the darkness, looking for any sign of movement. Nothing. She closed her eyes, re-shifted, opened her eyes, tried to focus, closed them, shifted again, and again, pulled the top sheet and cover up to her neck, swaddled her feet, curved into a semi fetal position, and finally…finally….finally…

Three a.m., and it was more careful this time, not wanting to wake her, to distress her, to cause her any pain. It floated its caress around her,  a diaphanous embrace of the night.

Leda and the Swan: National Flash Fiction Day

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Man Ray: Leda and the Swan

A swan walks into a bar…

No, not really.

A God walks into a bar…actually, the once King of the Gods…well, Greek Gods…and not King for a pretty long time…

…and it’s not really a bar, per se, but the bar in a disco, The Metamorphoses.

He’s not really Zeus anymore, either,  having given up that name for quite a while.  Too many just don’t believe in him and his anymore.

Zeus took flight and has  lived a long time as Mr. Swan.

So…A Swan does walks into a bar…

Mr. Swan saunters to the Metamorphoses bar and his burps dissolve into the loud music; his gastrointestinal expulsion is showing  his appreciation of a fine meal. He had just come  from the Olympus Diner, where he had:  an appetizer of Spanokopita; a generous helping of Lamb Souvlaki with rice; and he followed all that by two large slices of Baklava, dripping with extra honey (the waitress was enthralled, naturally, without knowing why). His stomach was happy, well sated. But…the diner had no liquor license (he’ll fix that in the morning). Swan wanted to get drunk…and he was looking for a little bit more pleasure.

The dancers were staying alive on the multicolored lit floor, the pulsating music swarming around the enclosed room. He scooped up a double Ouzo the bartender (a lithe blonde he intended to revisit) had set down, snorted a line of coke that was offered to him, and settled in. Swan scoped the place out, dazzled by the gyrating young flesh moving to a beat that stirred him in a number of ways. Sipping his drink, a smile playing around the rim of the glass, Swan found what he was looking for.

His eyes locked on a tableau: she was tall, curvy, long legged and teased out brunette hair. She had stylish (“for this age”, he thought) earrings, was not chewing gum, and best of all…she was alone. Downing his Ouzo and taking the replacement glass that was immediately in front of him, Swan boogied on down the steps of the bar/lounge area, across the dance floor, and up to his prey’s high top.

Chatting her up wasn’t all that hard, music blaring or not. Her name was Leda, she was a Broadway wannabe, and just had a fight with her boyfriend, Ty. She came with her girlfriends to let off some steam, and why was she telling him this and more, but Leda could not stop, nor could she refuse the copious amounts of Ouzo that Swan ordered for her. They talked, she laughed, he flirted, and they took it all to the dance floor.

If you ask anyone who was there at the Metamorphoses that night, no two stories would be the same, except for one thing: that night was magic. Everyone spilled out onto the dance floor, hours upon hours of drinking and drugging and sweating and laughing, taking things to an extreme that had never been experienced before.

And sex. There was a lot of sex that night.

Leda found herself with Swan in a ladies room stall. She wasn’t the only one that evening, but she was his main event.

Mr. Swan walked out in the early hours of the next morning bedraggled but beaming. He kept the music alive in his head and an arm around the blonde bartender, heading back to the Olympus Diner for some eggs, disco fries, ambrosia,  and the still enthralled waitress (her shift was over when she paid for his bill). The three of them had a fun morning.

Leda found Ty sitting in front of her apartment door. He as ten times ten apologetic, taking all the blame and asking her not only to take him back, but to marry him. He was an idiot, he admitted, and…and…and…

Leda said yes later that afternoon, after the two of them got out of bed and got dressed. They went for lunch at the diner (missing Zeus..um…Swan drop off the waitress by minutes) then got in his car and eloped,  driving to New England.

Nine months later, they had twin girls: Poly and Helen. Leda never questioned, Ty never knew, and the both of them loved to love their babies.

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From the UK comes the first ever Flash Fiction Day (National should become International, but that’s for another time).

What is Flash Fiction? Well, you can read about it HERE or HERE or even HERE.

My working definition: It’s a very short piece of work, not normally considered a short story (which usually has word counts under 7,500 words). Flash is basically considered anything from a few words to one thousand (give or take). It cuts out meandering sentences, extra words, and run on sentences, as you, as the writer, are forced to focus on being as concise as you possibly can. Unlike this explanation. 🙂

Most of what I write here on Tale Spinning has been Flash Fiction (without my announcing or championing it). I really discovered what FF is thanks to Lisa Vooght, author of the aptly named blog, Flash Fiction. She’s also the one who let me on that there was a National Flash Fiction Day. There are many others out there, and it’s been a pleasure finding them, bit by bit. Might be a blog post just on other FF blogs to find, but again…that is for another time.

You have 16 more days to read my Swan Rise series before it comes down on June 1st. Click HERE for all the links to the 26 stories. (and no…this story is not part of Swan Rise).

Ashes

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Even after reading about all the possible side effects, Jean wore her mother around her neck daily. Others complimented her on her memorial diamond pendant, with many commenting about it afterwards, not all in a favorable light. Compressed into a stunning jewel, strung and embraced in an array of silver filigree,  the late Mrs. Deidre Ann Cabochon glared from her daughter’s chest.

Cremated only a month previously, the ashes were mixed with snippets of her hair, and all was distilled to the carbon left behind. These were sent into a press, to duplicate the forces of nature. Extreme heat, 1,000,000 p.s.i., and time…and from the passing of the deceased came a new jeweled existence.

Or so Jean thought, even though the price was high on many levels.

Her husband, Paul, disagreed to the cost, both financially and emotionally. He was never fond of Deidre, a woman he found narcissistic and shrewish, and if he had been honest with anyone he would have loudly pronounced how glad he was that his mother-in-law was dead. Paul saw how Jean suffered during her mother’s long lingering illness, how she put “that woman!” on a pedestal, even while being ordered about and verbally demeaned at every turn. Jean just turned the other cheek, said it was the woman who gave her birth and raised her, and that was that.

Paul moved out the day after the jewel was delivered.

When she got the package, Jean cried as she opened it, and cried as she held it out to examine it. Jean asked Paul to attach the clasp for her. He went behind her as she moved her hair aside and did as she asked. There was a soft “snkt” sound; Jean let her hair down and turned around to give Paul a hug. She held him, lowering her head onto his right shoulder, pressing her body against his, tears leaking down, which he felt through his shirt.

Paul also felt the diamond pendant digging into his chest. Uncomfortable as that was, he felt…more. There was something emanating, a negative grasping, and it hurt on a much deeper level then the prick of the necklace pressed against him. Pushing away was hard but Paul moved a few feet backwards, seeing the pain in Jean’s face but he found himself unable to answer her question of what was wrong.

She needed comforting the rest of the day, and each time Paul’s horrible feeling deepened. He felt lethargic, and depressive thoughts flayed him, making deeper cuts as the day progressed. By the time they went to bed-Jean still wearing “her mother”-Paul was ready to slash his wrists. In her sleep Jean rolled over to the edge of the bed, as Paul, awake, did rolled to the opposite side. There was a lessening in his chest, and things felt calmer as he went to the bathroom (down the hallway), and still when he went downstairs to the kitchen for a cold drink.

Sitting at the kitchen table until dawn, Paul went back upstairs. Each step was agony, and when he got to their bedroom door, he knew. Grabbing his clothes, he woke Jean up.

“Get rid of that necklace, Jean. Let her go, or I will…”

“You’ll what?” she said, belligerently, rubbing her eyes, up on one elbow.

“I’ll leave. That thing…something is wrong with it.”

An argument ensued, words were said, many that could not be taken back or apologized for, many that Paul had heard from Deidre’s mouth only months before. Jean came towards him in fury and tears; Paul bolted with his clothes, changing in the car before running away.

Jean grieved doubly now. She started to lose interest in eating, slept poorly, wandered aimlessly, and while all around her said she was in the grips of depression, none would say so to her face. She would talk about her mother in one breath and be scathing in ridicule in the next, tearing apart friends, family, and co-workers alike with a viciousness that was “not like her” (or so they said).

Hollow eyed, sallow skinned, Jean played with the jewel almost constantly. She shortened the chain the one time she removed it, making it a choker, in so many ways. Her belligerence became so brutal that she was told to leave her job, that she was creating an unhealthy work environment. She spat in her bosses coffee when she got up to leave, gave her the finger, and slammed the door on her way out.

Jean sat in the dark, in her living room, gripping the arm rests of the chair she had inherited from her mother. She contemplated many things, but they were about the others, what they had done to her, nothing was her fault, and why were they all crazy? She had bought a 1.4 litre of Irish Creme, Deidre’s favorite, and killed it in one sitting. Feeling queasy, Jean left the house to get some fresh air.

She thought getting in the car for a drive upstate was a good idea, at the time.

********************************************
Author’s Note:
There is more to write about Jean. 845 words is not enough, but it’s enough for me, today.
There actually is a business of putting the ashes of the deceased into jewelry. Some of it is done as described in the above story; the rest are hollow receptacles for the cremated ash. I was told about this by my SO, who loves medical and scientific things, and it has been filtering around my noggin…
until a short Associated Press piece caught my attention: “South Korea has seized thousands of smuggled drug capsules filled with powdered flesh from…”
….well, the rest would be telling where I want to take this whole thing. Suffice to say, reality is just as bad as fiction, n’est pas?

Click here to read The Complete AtoZ: Swan Rise Apartment Series

Only available for free until May 31st, 2012

Velocity

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Jim made a right turn at a red light, at a corner with two signs saying “No Turn On Red.” His tires left tread as he barreled through the intersection. No cops, just a couple of honkers annoying him.  The Beamer behind him was blistering the air with a staccato of horn blasts. Jim just gave him the finger and sped up, passing through the next light before it turned.

Previously, he had outraced four Yellow “Go Faster!” lights, blew through five Stop signs, crossed over the double yellow lines (to get around the “old farts”) three times, and came close to hitting two cars, and one woman with a stroller crossing in the crosswalk (who had the right of way, but Jim didn’t see it that way at all: he ignored anything that even hinted at “right of way” rules, as his was the only right of way he believed in).

His H3 Alpha had two and a half tons of pure motion in his hands and under his feet; a weapon of the streets, and he aimed to drive as if Hell was on his tail.

He was partly right.

After more almost mishaps, Jim made it home from his beer run. Braking hard, he careened into his spot, barely missing the cars parked parallel to his. He slammed the driver’s door shut. With six pack in hand, he sauntered across the parking lot to the apartment building. Banging open the door, he was confronted with the angry glares of the daily laundering ladies, sorting their whites and colors and silently condemning him for his loud music, his caps on backwards, his wife beater Tees, and his baggy drooping pants.

Jim sneered a Hello to them, walked down the hallway, and danced onto the elevator, which luckily for all was waiting to take him up to the seventh floor.

Unlocking his door, Jim stopped in his tracks. Envelopes were strewn all over the foyer floor. Cursing, Jim kicked the door closed, went to the kitchen and put a six pack in the fridge. He cracked one open, and while swigging it down he went back to get the “under the door garbage.”

Expecting menus or advertisements, he opened one and found a traffic ticket: $150.00 fine for going through “No Turn On Red” signs. There were pictures on the page, clear and damning, of his car, his license plate, him behind the wheel. Shouting out expletives that were heard by the neighbors, Jim picked up the rest and headed to the kitchenette table.

Thirteen more envelopes later, Jim had a stack of traffic tickets in front of him. All had high fines, all had shots of him supporting the fines. He stared at the pile, growling as he set tightly gripping the bottle of cheap lager. He looked them over one more time, then tore each one in half. Crumpling them up one by one, he tossed them into the trash. Out of character for Jim, he took this garbage pail, only half full, not overflowing,  out to the trash chute at the end of the hall. He stomped back to his studio apartment, slammed the door, locked it, and went off to polish off the five remaining bottles in the fridge.

The next morning Jim found fourteen more traffic tickets on the floor by his front door. All the fines were doubled, in large red letters. Again, Jim tore them all up. On his way out, he met the super and complained about someone getting into the building, leaving things under his door. The super waved him on while he continued to mop, having something to gossip about later with his cronies in the building.

Jim’s traffic transgressions were doubled this day, anger seeping out of every pore. When he got home from work, he was greeted by forty-two envelopes, all splayed out on the floor. He tore into them as he threw off his faux leather jacket, opening the refrigerator for the first of cold brews (having replaced the empty six pack with a fresh one in the morning).  Plopping down in his La-Z-Boy, Jim opened, read, and then tore up all the violation warnings. He threw them into the waste basket next to his chair, most of the pieces winding up on the floor. They stayed there.

Waking up from an hour and twenty minute nap, Jim though he had heard a noise by his front door. Getting up to check, he saw more white rectangles littering his floor. Jim ran over, unlocking the door and yanking it open. No one was near his apartment. He ran to the elevator, which was stopped on the floor above, then checked the stairway. Mrs. Elway, widow, garbage bag in hand, saw Jim in his frantic ways, had been going to the chute to dispose her daily waste. She quickly waddled back inside her apartment, locking it, to wait out Jim.

Once back inside, he ripped open the flaps. All the fines were doubled again. The bright red “Warning: Do Not Disregard or Tear Up These Notices” was stamped on every single one of the sheets, top, bottom and the back. Jim wanted to shred them all. They sat in a pile on the table, in place of where he’d eat.

The next morning, another round appeared. Jim called in sick (his boss not believing him and started the process of replacing Jim once they hung up) and waited until 9:00am to call the traffic division. He demanded to talk to whoever was harassing him in such a way. The phone receptionist, taking only so much bad language, disconnected him. And again, first apologizing for being disconnected. Jim called a few more times, finally realizing he was going to get no where.

His drive to the traffic court was sedate, for Jim. Only three infractions, but they grew after Jim spent two and half hours of hurling insults and almost getting arrested for his behavior. His drive home made the local evening news, as people were recounting the dangerous driver who tore through the city streets “like it was his own personal Daytona 500” (said one onlooker who said he barely got out of the way in time).

More envelopes. More doubled fines. More “Do Not…” warnings. Opening up the calculator app on his phone, Jim tallied a staggering amount of fines. His savings and checking account combined wouldn’t even make a dent in what this added up to be.

Jim put his head in his hands, closed his eyes, and tried to calm his racing heart. He heard a sliding sound, got up, and by his door was one envelope. He picked it up: white like the others, but it had stamped on the outside “Last Warning, Jim.” Looking through the peephole, the empty hallway loomed before him. One of the overhead lights went out while he was peeping.

Going to his once comfy chair, Jim plopped down, examining what he held before carefully opening it. The paper was slick and shiny,  coated so that there was a slight glare off the page, reflecting the now fading sunset. A definitive sum headed the ticket, with a list of all of his driving misdoings. Jim read them all, carefully, the bile in his stomach churning with each and every misdeed. This carried on onto the back of the “rap” sheet, ending in a list of terms. Two:

  1. Pay the full amount by 3:33 am (or)
  2. Surrender yourself for full punitive justice

Jim had to look up the word “punitive.” Looking up at the clock on the wall, he had just about ten hours to find the money, or…

Grabbing what he could, Jim tore through the building, out to the lot, and into his SUV. He hit the road, running, and made it to the highway. He drove for hours, going south, then south east, then north for a bit, taking one connective road after another. No plan, no destination, just driving.

3:10 am, and Jim found a Denny’s (it was always open).  Ordering a Grand Slamwich(r) and a cup of coffee, Jim settled back in his booth seat, staring at the clock on the wall. He was on his second cup of coffee and only two bites into his cold sandwich when 3:33 am came. He clutched the mug, not noticing it wasn’t burning his hands.

3:34 am.

3:40 am.

3:45 am, and nothing happened. Sighing, wiping the sweat off of his hands on the booth seat, Jim paid the check and went out to the parking lot.

Leaning against his ride was the biggest cop Jim had ever seen. All in blue, helmet on with faceplate down, his badge radiated golden light, pinned to a massive chest. Raising his right arm, the officer beckoned Jim to come over with one crooked finger. Seeing this, Jim turned and tried to bolt.

He couldn’t. Against his will, Jim turned and walked towards the figure swathed in dark blue. He was within a foot when Jim was spun around and hard, cold metal was clamped around his wrists. He was manhandled into the back of an official looking van, but it had no insignia that Jim could see. Before he could say a word, the van took off, tossing Jim headlong into a bench seat.

Finally getting his bearings, Jim was shoulder pushed into an open spot. He looked around: the van, larger looking on the inside, held a lot of others, both sexes, all ages…well, all above driving age (except for that one girl who looked like she was twelve). Jim tried to shout, to ask what was happening, but nothing came out. Some weakly smiled at him, the rest ignored him. He tried a few more times, but the only sound he heard was the whine of the wind as the van picked up speed as it sped off to it’s final destination.

In the morning at Denny’s, the day shift manager found Jim’s H3 in the parking lot, keys on the hood. “Not mine,” was the answer he got from all inside. The manager waited out his shift and then called for the SUV to be towed away. Two months later, the gas guzzler was police auctioned off. The funds helped, as there was a recent drop in speeding tickets.

 

You Are Mine! (A Tanka Poem)

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YOU ARE MINE!

Something comes at night
Holding breath; no creaks, no sound
Covers drawn up tight
The moon peers in my window:
It, illuminated so

Saying: “You Are Mine!
From this night forward, believe
We are meant to be.
To the underbelly, fly
Nothing wicked to deny.”

Covers off, so tossed
A soft sprinkling of dust
Anticipation…
My mattress far below me
A smile lights up my being.

Out the window, soar
Swoop and laugh forever more
Reach the stars above
Quick! The morning sun comes fast
What is left behind?

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Author’s Note:

From Wikipedia:

Tanka consists of five units (often treated as separate lines when Romanized or translated) usually with the following pattern of onji:

5-7-5-7-7.

The 5-7-5 is called the kami-no-ku (“upper phrase”), and the 7-7 is called the shimo-no-ku (“lower phrase”). Tanka is a much older form of Japanese poetry than haiku.

About 1300 years old (I’ve seen 1200 too, so..why quibble), A Tanka has been hitting the poetry rounds lately.

This is my first Tanka, and I based it on a well loved story (see the tags if you don’t see what I was playing with).

ADDENDUM:

This is what cosmic synchronicity is about: I got, on Friday morning (the day after I wrote this), an email from The Purple Treehouse that their poetry prompt to express a different poetic form,  this week  to write a “WAKA” for you to think within 5-7-5-7-7 syllables and let your love know, how much you love…  or, one of its’ forms:

Chōka consists of 5-7 Japanese sound units phrases repeated at least twice, and concludes with a 5-7-7 ending.

The Tanka, as described above, which allowed a bit more expression

“There are still other forms of waka. In ancient times its moraic form was not fixed – it could vary from the standard 5 and 7 to also 3, 4, 6, longer than 7 morae part in a waka. Besides that, there were many other forms like Bussokusekika, Sedōka, Katauta etc.” (copied from The Purple Treehouse)

So, now I’m linking this piece up to their site and poetry blog hop. Please click on The Purple Treehouse link and take a look at the other poets expressing this poetic form. I Hope you like it.