Thursday, February 25, 2010

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

Here's a character originally from a tweet tale that I keep thinking about. She worked her way into my NaNoWriMo attempt, and has been sitting in the green room, waiting for her turn to take the stage again, tell a tale or two. Not that this one is the story she wants to tell, but she'll bide her time, wait patiently for her next call-back.

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

Isadora stroked the shaft on the Bounty Hunter Quicksilver Metal Detector with LCD Display. Just the name sounded exotic, fun, adventurous. She looked at the yellow, crooked-smiley-face with its declaration of a 'roll-back' price and sighed. Rolled back or not, Dora couldn't justify spending over $300 for what would amount to be a hobby item. She turned her attention to the Bounty Hunter Lone Star Hobby Metal Detector with Free Pinpointer. Only $180. It looked cheap, a meager imitation of the more powerful, sleeker Quicksilver.

The clerk in the boxy blue vest stepped beside her. His name tag announced Billy-Bob. "That's a fine model right there. I got me the Lone Star and let me tell ya, not a day goes by that I-ah don't apree-shee-ate its powers of loca-tie-za-tion. Just last month, my wife Bessy—she just as purty now as the day I stole her from her daddy—she lost the ring I gave her for our twentieth. Not that it's the queen's jewels or nothin' but it has centy-mental value. Anyhow, Bessy gits herself in all a-tizzy, sayin' how she can't live with herself if she lost this token of our undyin' commitment and her finger feels empty without it, empty as my heart will be… you know wimin when they work 'emselves up over nothin'. Well I says to my Bessy, 'don't worry, the ol' Lone Star will loca-tie-zate your ring' and I fire it up and sweep the back yard and wouldn't you know it, as I git near her prize-winnin' Jet City tomater plants it starts abuzzin' up a storm and right there, under them there stalks is her ring! Yessirree—pardon me, yessama'am—you'll do right by the Lone Star."

Isadora nodded, a little dizzy. "Thanks for the advice, Billy-Bob. Just a-lookin'." Isadora turned from the metal detector display, stuffed her wrist into her mouth to stifle the giggle that teased her throat. It just slipped, after listening to his patios. She sighed. Ray was home, waiting for "his Dora" to bring him his Preparation H and Cherry Garcia; she didn't have time to chit-chat about lost rings or consider metal detectors, of all the frivolous things in the world. Isadora snorted, thinking about how she'd laughed at those head-phoned geezers at the beach, with their socks and sandals and dangling tote bags, digging in the sand for a meager thirty-five cents and maybe a teenager's lost retainer. Why did the instrument of the most laughable hobby in the world inspire such a sense of adventure? Because she was bored. Sweeping beach sand had to be better than sniffing 'new & improved' seaside-breeze-scented air fresheners.

When had she become the good-wife-"Dora"? Growing up, she had been "Izzy".

"Izzy" did things. "Izzy" climbed to the top of the monkey bars, even though she almost peed her pants. "Izzy" smoked a cigarette in the woods behind elementary school. "Izzy" kissed a boy at the junior high dance on a dare, before any of her friends had even held hands with the opposite sex.

The "Dora" part of her brain reminded her that "Izzy" got pregnant at sixteen, talk about adventure. "Izzy" reminded "Dora" that only dowdy women shopped for hemorrhoid creams and punny foods and spent their days generating false enthusiasm for whiter-whites and gleaming-grout and their nights living vicariously through shallow people confessing to reality show cameras.

Isadora pushed her shopping cart past a display of pepto-bismol colored shorts and thought those look comfortable. She stopped, stared at the yards of terry cloth and something inside snapped.

No more comfortable clothes or medicinal creams or bleach alternatives or plug-in air-fresheners. No more predictable. No more DORA. IZZY was spontaneous. IZZY lived in the moment; let future IZZY deal with consequences.

Isadora raced her shopping cart back to the metal detector display, justifying that she could sell her finds on E-bay, earn back the cost. She picked up the Lone Star (powers of loca-tie-za-tion!) and put it back. No. She didn't want to find lost rings under "tomater stalks." She fumbled through the Lone Star boxes stacked above the display until she revealed a capital Q. "Izzy" placed the Bounty Hunter Quicksilver Metal Detector with LCD Display in the shopping cart and hurried to check-out, before "Dora" reprimanded about melting ice cream.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

IN BETWEEN SOUND

This past week I found out six of my flash horror pieces will be included in 365 days of horror, by Pill Hill Press and E/Fiction Magazine accepted a piece. Details forthcoming on when. Now, for this weeks 3WW and #fridayflash.

IN BETWEEN SOUND

Savannah stared at the night sky, in between blades of grass. Rough ground pressed against one cheek. Light pollution glowed along the horizon. A plane's red taillight flashed before the stars. She located the Big Dipper, Orion's Belt, the dots of light against the backdrop of closed eyelids.

Hot ragged air blasted her cheek in time to grunted "whore, you like this, whore" but between, that was where Savannah tried to hide, between the clouds of sick, aside from the onslaught of sweat and rotten attraction; behind a night owl's hoot—no hoots, two times, two times—yes, Savannah could count two because the pause, a long pause between, and in between those two hoots a lifetime could occur so she listened harder and heard the chirps, the cricket chirps but that sound swelled and abated, so crickets took breaths, they had to take breaths, if she could count his breaths, her breaths, cricket breaths she could listen in between and hear the watery swoosh of distant traffic, but even tires rolled there had to be a pause and gap and if she could hear it, maybe, she could muffle the roar of blood over his pounding muscle (it's not a heart, this is not a man it is just a muscle and skin and bones—and don't go there, don't go there, listen) LISTEN and find the silence and if she could just hear the blissful silence, or not hear the silence, not hear anything for a moment, a nanosecond, a lifetime she could hide and if she could hide she could be. Again. She could be again and she could live and continue and after, after she could put this into a tidy little box and hide it in a compartment of her brain, the corner she never visited except late at night, very late at night when she thought she heard nothing but the menacing wisp of soundless screams but that wasn't silence because there was always the refrigerator hum or her jack-hammering heart or her roaring blood flow, her blood was flowing so she had to find the real silence, true silence and listen to nothing and hide inside the non-noise, the absence of sound, so she strained to hear while the rock jabbed her back and he slapped her face in time to the taillight blinks and the searing ramming and the chirping cricket and the smooth roll of tires against asphalt in between one tread roll after—

—after the nothing the crickets chirped and the owl hooted once and the swoosh of traffic rose to the blinking stars that ignored the red eye traversing the sky over her torn blouse and her bleeding back and her bruised cheeks and her raw snatch but she could breath. She could breathe and be again because inside the silence, the blissful nothing she had hid and she had survived the eternity of violation, of violence and inside the silence she hid from that eternity but found infinity and inside infinity she found she could just be. Again.

Savannah heard his footsteps recede. The grass caressed her cheek, the night breeze whispered against her skin and her sobs eclipsed the night.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Katie's Six for #fridayflash

When I began this writing journey, I discovered Six Sentences, and editor Rob McEvily was very good to me. One of my shining moments was creating and seeing my first 6x6 (six stories compiled together as a virtual book) at the site. To view the original posting, as Rob designed it (it looks so cool!) follow the link:
http://sixsentences.blogspot.com/2008/05/katies-six-by-peggy-mcfarland.html

I offer you for this week's friday flash:

KATIE'S SIX

Moving
(Katie’s Six/One)


White/gray, white/gray, white/gray. The dotted line on the highway mesmerized as Katie pressed her forehead against the cool window. Drops of rain plastered her hair against her scalp--mom’s cigarette smoke pooled into a cloud near, but never escaped through the crack. A passing sign’s letters spelled WELCOME, but Katie doubted they’d stop in this state long enough to find out if it were true. Mom mumbled it wasn’t far enough. Maybe in the next place, the boogie man wouldn’t find and hide inside mom’s boyfriend.

Stopping
(Katie’s Six/Two)


“Hey baby, we’re here.” Katie yawned, rubbed her eyes and saw her mom’s tears and a ‘v can y’ sign blinking behind her mother’s bent form. “Come on, little angel, get your backpack.” Katie stepped out of the car and into a puddle, the dirty water cold and squishy inside her thin sneakers. A thick rope clanked against the flagpole, striking a rhythm that signaled the rain to attack. She wanted mom to carry her, but mom had already disappeared in the dark room behind the dented door marked with the crooked six.

Coloring
(Katie’s Six/Three)

“Spongebob is yellow.” Katie knew that. It took almost twenty minutes and digging through three plastic buckets before she found the broken crayon. She didn’t care what color everyone else used. Tonya-with-an-‘O’, could use the sunshine yellow crayon, and the burnt sienna, and the carnation pink, and the pine green, and any and every other crayon, except one. Because, despite all the colorful names in the world, Katie knew--truth was grey.

Riding
(Katie’s Six/Four)

Katie liked the song but pressed her lips tight together, even though the bus driver hummed along and winked at her in the slanted giant mirror. The bus driver wore a sleeveless shirt. Birds’ nests filled the space under the woman’s arms, but Katie never spied a canary, or a nightingale, or even a parakeet. No, birds couldn’t live under arms. Sometimes, they lived in cages, but only if they didn’t sing. The boogie man snapped the necks of canaries that sing.

Eating
(Katie’s Six/Five)

Katie poked her straw into the thin membrane and imagined she broke the juice box’s head. She wished she could poke a hole in another head. She stared at her plate and counted. Fourteen peas. Eighteen macaroni elbows. Four mommy screams… and one more boogie man.

Leaving
(Katie’s Six/Six)

A cold breeze woke Katie. A moon beam shone on the backpack. Katie pulled on her sweatshirt and slipped on her sneakers. Mom threw the backpack out the open window and then climbed over the sill. Katie leaned into the night and let her mom pull her close. She wrapped her arms around mom’s neck, laid her head on her mom’s shoulder and hummed a tuneless song.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

MOONLIGHTING

Here's my offering for 3WW and #fridayflash.

MOONLIGHTING

"Listen. Do you smell something?" That was still her favorite line from Ghostbusters. Jen flipped through the channels, saw nothing else interesting and decided, why not, it'd been a while. She returned to Comedy Central, perched on the edge of the couch and waited for a commercial break.

"Bob" and his smiling goofy face filled the screen. Even though the limp hose cracked her up, she hurried to the cabinet, slammed a Pop Secret Bag in the microwave and poured herself a tall glass of diet coke. Wow, she was enjoying herself. Jen couldn't remember the last time she spent a working night watching television. Shoot! She was working; she better check on Dick.

Jen flipped the bedroom light switch. Disco blues and pinks, yellows and oranges swirled over the bed. Frantic, Dick struggled against his restraints. She could hear syllables between his grunts. Jen pulled her nightstick from her belt, whacked him across his chest. She yanked him by his hair and adjusted the ball gag; tightened his ankle and wrist cuffs while she stood close. Jingle notes from a local car ad mingled with Dick's pants. "Dick, dick, dick," she said as she removed her gun belt, unbuttoned her blue shirt. She couldn't decide whether to stay in her pants and tee shirt or change into something more comfortable. Absently she tickled his left sole, listened to a lizard talk about insurance from the other room.

Sweat poured off his temples. Jen yawned. "What am I supposed to do with you?" She flipped open her ticket pad, pretended to read. "Your wife says you've been naughty. You understand that right?"

Dick's eyes bulged from the bed. "Melissa hired me to teach you what can happen. Men who cruise, lose." Jen laughed; that line cracked her up, no matter how many times she used it. She sniffed. "Dick, did you just soil yourself?" The reek of his bowels mingled with movie butter whiffs, a unique and almost not unpleasant odor to Jen. The announcer's voice boomed over bright music, reminding the viewer that a new South Park could only be seen on Comedy Central.

"Usually, I like to draw these things out, but Dick, tonight, I'm just not in the mood. Let's get this over with." Jen showed the shackled man her taser, aimed for the body part his wife had ordered and zapped him. Dick lurched into an impossible arch before he passed out. Jen dropped the stun gun, closed the bedroom door and returned to her living room.

Good, she thought, I haven't missed Slimer. Jen emptied her popcorn, brought the bowl and soda to the living room and placed them on the coffee table. She tucked her grandma's afghan under her curled legs, found the remote and increased the volume. She laughed when the four ghostbusters ruined the hotel dining room. Capturing the green ghost got Jen thinking. Containment box... I could charge more.