Thursday, September 30, 2010

GAME ON

I couldn't let another friday pass without contributing something to #fridayflash. This one originally appeared last October at Long Story Short. Read other #fridayflash stories either through Twitter, or by going to the mastermind of it all, Jon Strother at Mad Utopia. I'll be around commenting; now don't you leave without adding a word or two.

GAME ON

"Five dollars apiece for those," Fay told the limping old man. He sniffed, picked up the commemorative Eagle-shaped liquor bottle, replaced it and then stroked the State House-shaped bottle. Six collector bottles were set among odd glassware on the make-shift plywood and sawhorse table. She ignored him. A young mother handed off her toddler to the dad before she plopped cross-legged in front of paperback filled boxes. The dad shifted the toddler to a hip and walked to the rusty tools.

The old man cleared his throat. "Ma'am! Will you take three dollars each?"

Two hours into the yard sale and so far, not one haggler. Fay turned toward him. He pushed his glasses up his nose. Suspenders held up stained khakis; rolled-up shirtsleeves revealed a Rolex watch on his bony wrist. Game on, she thought, as she cocked her head and countered, "How about four?"

He rubbed his grizzled chin and checked the sun. "I'll give you sixteen dollars for all of them."

He grimaced a crooked-toothed smile. She frowned and turned to the woman at the books. "JD Robb is really Nora Roberts. You'll love that one."

A lip-studded, black-fingernailed teenaged boy let his bike fall to the curb and ambled to the hanging clothes. The toddler arched his back and pounded his dad's chest. The father released the child, who then ran to a box of fast-food toys. His chubby fingers grabbed a Grinch figure and threw it across the lawn, followed by a Yoda watch. "Connor, NO!" shouted the boy's father.

Fay turned when she heard an impatient exhale and nodded to her opponent. "At four dollars each, it would be twenty-four dollars for the lot. I'll take twenty-two."

The old man snorted, stomped his gimp leg and shifted his attention to the costume jewelry. Limpy's not the faux pearl type, she thought. She flinched when the toddler shrieked so she missed the angry mumble. Fay figured he wanted to tell his social club cronies how he finagled a great deal, maybe even brag: She didn't know who she was dealing with! With her peripherals, she watched him sidle to the dusty exercise equipment, his magnified eyes fixed on the Schooner bottle.

"Holy shy-keys! '77 Aerosmith tour shirt!" exclaimed the teen.

Connor and dad moved to the plywood table. Dad picked up the Locomotive bottle. The little boy raised his arms and pouted.

"Seventeen dollars!" the old man shouted. He hobbled back as fast as his bum leg would allow.

Fay ignored his offer while she gave the teenager his change. The old man tugged his suspenders, scratched his chin stubble and repeated his offer; his stare drilled her. She enjoyed his discomfort. She watched the teen pedal away before she exhaled a heavy, theatrical, this-hurts-me sigh. "I'll take twenty-one."

He "humph"-ed and glanced at his wristwatch. She checked her cell phone. Ten twenty-two. If it were three o'clock, she'd give those ugly bottles away. It was early; she could wait. Another shopper might find those bottles enchanting, and she bet Limpy feared as much. He shook his head, he frowned, but he did not leave the plywood table. She had him! Fay bit her lower lip to prevent a smile.

He caressed the Minuteman bottle with the rifle pourer spout. "OKAY! Okay, eighteen." He opened his arms, palms skyward, as if to prove sincere generosity.

"I started at five dollars apiece! No way. My dad collected these when I was a girl. They have sentimental value AND…."

"If they're so sentimental, why are they in your yard sale?"

Fay "humph"-ed, and tossed her head. The toddler's, "up-up-UP, dada" reminded her of knives sawing through Styrofoam. "Twenty-one. FIRM!"

The toddler's dad shouted to the cross-legged woman. "Wrap it up! Connor needs a nap."

"We agreed today it's my turn. Five minutes watching your son too much for you?"

The mother rolled her eyes and continued to sort books. The dad grasped Connor's shoulder and guided him towards the curb.

The old man wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "You drive a hard bargain," he complained. He pulled a worn leather wallet from his back pocket and counted out ones. She coughed to squelch a smirk as she grabbed newspaper and an empty box.

Connor shrieked and kicked his father. Dad swore, released Connor's shoulder and rubbed his shin. Connor ran back up the driveway, stubby legs pumping; wide eyes intent on the ground.

His head cleared the plywood table--

--and his pudgy body slammed into a sawhorse. Crystal glasses, chipped mugs, cloudy vases and the commemorative liquor bottles teetered and swayed... and crashed.

Mom screamed, Dad yelled, Connor wailed, Fay gasped… and Limpy snickered. A pitcher and the Eagle bottle seemed intact. The parents' accusations interrupted Fay's damage assessment.

"This is YOUR fault! Look! An egg on his forehead. He needs an X-ray!" Mom spit her words at her husband. She marched to their car, sobbing Connor squished against her chest.

"My fault? MY FAULT? If we'd left when I said, this wouldn't have happened!" Dad gestured as Mom secured Connor in his car seat.

Doors slammed, tires squealed and then, blessed silence. Fay exhaled, relieved the young family didn't mention suing. Fay stretched her shoulders and turned to see--

--Limpy hugging the Eagle bottle to this chest and lurching across the lawn.

"Hey! Get back here! Five dollars or nothing!"

He limped faster. Fay ran and jumped in front of him. He clutched the bottle tighter to his chest. Game on, she thought, and grabbed the ceramic wings.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

DIMES

Six Sentences was the first ezine to publish my stories. Thanks to the encouragment of Rob McEvily and his New York Times recognized publication, I've been on this writing journey for 3+ years now, and accept my rejections, enjoy my successes, and savor every minute of this process. Having said that...


...with my new position at my restaurant (Moonstones in case you find yourself in Chelmsford, MA) I am finding it difficult to find writing time. I will figure this all out soon, trust me, but until then I've decided to showcase some of the stories Rob accepted. This one originally appeared as part of a 6x6 collection. This is a fictional, semi-autobiographical piece *smirk*.


As always, comments accepted and appreciated.



DIMES


I find dimes, and that makes me smile. Sometimes I find them in obvious places, such as under cushions or on the sidewalk or even on the window ledge, but always dimes; never pennies or nickels or quarters.


One time a dime materialized on the kitchen counter after I sponged it clean and another time one fell on my forehead as I sunned myself in the backyard. They arrive whenever I don’t trust my decisions, to assure me, as if to say, “That’s right!”


I just came back from putting down my sick dog, and a dime twinkles from her empty food dish. Sure, the dimes reassure when I decide to play hooky from work, or when I resist the urge to spend money on a frivolity, but hell, I want -- no, make that need -- that shiny Roosevelt comfort when I wield the power of life and death in my hands.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Control Issues

This one first appeared at Six Sentences on August 11, 2009. A late addition to #fridayflash.

CONTROL ISSUES

I had the radio dream again. I'm at the control board and U2 is warbling the last 10 seconds of "Out of Control" and I look at the empty second turntable and panic. The albums are all down the hall in the record room and I didn't pull them ahead of time. I grab a cartridge for an unscheduled commercial to buy sixty seconds but all I find are ten second public service announcements. Song ends, microphone on and my mind blanks. Dead air… until I awake and realize radio is all computerized now and I'm not a dj and I never run out of things to say.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pimento Fantasy

If you haven't yet, stop by the NOT and check out Mike Solender's echap-book, The Dog Days of Summer 2010. Many #fridayflash fav's are featured (sorry for the alliteration), and an honorable mention story from my new writing buddy, Jay Thurston. Oh yeah, if you search hard enough, you may even find a 101 word story from moi. 

In other news, Barry Basden of the Camroc Press Review nominated a story of mine for the "Best of the Net Anthology 2010". It's a long shot, but I am so honored to be considered. Thank you Barry.

Here's this week's 3WW and #fridayflash.

PIMENTO FANTASY


Carl stared at the bottom of his martini glass, wondering why his olive wriggled. Air bubbles rose from beneath the olive, as if his glass held carbonated water instead of gin with a whisper of vermouth. He knew better. From some physics formula he learned in his youth but forgot in the five decades since, he understood. Movement forced air bubbles to rise. What the hell moved his olive?


"Nurse!"


"I'm not your nurse Carl."


"Would you prefer 'bar wench'?"


"Would you prefer coffee?"


"Try it and I won't tip."


Tara scrambled for the remote, pointed it at the tiny box beneath the HD television. "Did hell freeze over Carl? I didn't think you knew the word 'tip'?" Tara laughed. The news anchor's blathering replaced Journey's believing-mantra fading from the jukebox.


Carl shook his head. "With that negative attitude, what do you expect?"


Tara shushed him, turned to grab a rolled up newspaper and swatted at a fly. Carl squinted at her tight shorts, thought about how much he wanted to do her and wished he'd thought even four seconds sooner you can't handle the tip I've got. That would have topped her. He would top her. Carl wanted to gulp his martini, but he forced himself to refrain; today was the only day in the month he could allow himself a martini. Tomorrow, and for the next twenty-eight days, he could only afford happy hour beer, and linger over those until they became piss-warm.


But today he cashed his social security check, and the gin glistened and the condensation dripped and Dan Fogerty warbled about something rising as Carl felt his own something rising that hadn't risen in a very long time, not since the government suspended the contract one month before his pension and he lost his house and lost his wife and lost his confidence, but now, right now, he could savor not only the rot-gut gin but his gut-growing lust for a young girl in tight-ass shorts who should consider him a sugar daddy instead of dismissing him as a lecherous grandfather and what the hell was bursting from the pitted hole of his olive?


Carl rubbed his face with both hands, cleared his throat, clutched the wet stem of his glass. "Tara?"


She swatted at the air, then sighed. "What now Carl?"


"What's in the olives?"


"What, you think this is the capitol grille? Nothing's in the olives. And for what you pay, you're lucky you get any olives."


Carl slammed his fist against the wooden bar. "Watch it Carl," Tara warned, but he ignored her. The vibration against the bar shook his glass; the olive spun.


A tiny girl burst from the pitted hole, arms raised in a celebratory "v". Her curly blonde ringlets floated in the gin as she popped then settled, her red halter top accenting her wee-shapely breasts which settled against the smooth green. Her miniature lips formed an oh, the liquid shimmering from a diffused buzz. "Are you talking?" Carl asked.


Carl lifted his glass to eye-level, the faint pine-y scent of juniper berries tickling his nostrils. She was beautiful, proportioned perfectly, a dream woman... except for the fact she fit inside a Queen's olive. Carl snorted. It could be worse, he thought, a manzanilla olive... wish I were a pimento right about now. Carl gulped, looked around the room and wondered if anyone else saw what he was seeing.


A skinny kid sporting spotty sideburns and raging acne fed dollar bills into the jukebox. Carl heard his damn! I haven't heard the chili peppers in ages. Aggressive chords filled the room, drowning out the buzzing fly and pimento fantasy. Carl returned his attention to his glass.


The olive girl hoisted herself out of the hole and balanced on the olive-edge. She bent her wee knees and sprung, arms swimming in an upward breast-stroke as her feet kicked. Carl marveled at the tiny red dots on her toes. She rose to the surface of his martini. Before olive-bursting girl was able to grasp the glass-lip, Carl's hand shook, plopping her back through the heady liquid and into her hole.


A fly landed on the bar next to Carl's elbow. Before Carl could react, Tara swatted with her newspaper, knocking Carl's drink out of his hand. "Ah!" Carl yelped, startled by the sharp slam of newspaper and the sharper sound of shattering glass. The skinny kid sang with the jukebox, twisting and turning as the olive rolled along the bar and cold gin shocked Carl's crotch and Tara shouted "damn!" and the living pimento crawled out of her hole and Carl heard you're feelings are burning and Tara raised the newspaper and olive thumbelina shook herself and Carl shouted "no!" and the off-key kid droned you're breaking the girl as Tara smashed the bar. To Carl, the smash echoed for a very long time.


"You okay Carl?"


Carl reached into his back pocket, mopped his face with his handkerchief. "Hang on, I'll make you another," Tara said.


"Nah, that's okay. One's enough." He got out his wallet, put a couple dollars on the bar. Tara raised her eyebrows. Carl turned away before he had to explain he planned on skipping tomorrow's happy hour.