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Keepsakes.

At dawn the grey clouds allowed for no dancing shadows and a dire mood seemed to be settling in for the rest of the day.  ” How nice and appropriate .” he thought as he dragged himself from between the sheets to schlep to the kitchen for the first shot of caffeine of the day.  The percolator was just finishing up and the smell helped to bring his thoughts into focus after what had been a bustling,  to say the least, night full of activity.

Loading his cup with some  dark liquid along with a punch of sugar for an additional boost , he made his way into the living room and frumped in his Lazy Boy to watch the morning news.  Murder and mayhem seemed to be the norm with a brief touch on fire and brimstone.  The co-hosts of the morning show always seemed to be so very happy about having something traumatic to relay, but then again he reckoned that if there wasn’t much drama happening in the world, they would be out of a job pretty darn quick.  He was glad that he was able to keep folks employed in what was currently considered a very bad economy.  He thought to himself, “they ain’t seen nothing yet”, and took a long draught from his mug, draining his remaining coffee dead empty.

He had been so tired when he got home last night after his shift that he had removed his clothes in stages, leaving little piles leading from the front door to the bedroom and he thought to himself that he really was a slob and no wonder no-one wanted to room with him. Would it be nice to have a room-mate, somebody to help with the rent and food and supplies? Pondering if he should put a personal ad on Craig’s List, he started to the kitchen  to wash and dry out his coffee mug.  On the way to the bedroom, he reached down and picked up his cloak and scythe from the floor and turning out the pockets, he gathered up his souvenirs from the night before.    A ring, a necklace, a pocket watch..he wondered why he kept them, those little pieces of humanity so very useless to their former owners now.

Opening the closet door he hung up his cloak to allow the wrinkles to shake out.  Gathering up a carton from the floor, he gently placed his mementoes from the night before inside, along with the thousands of others he had collected over the years.  He closed the box, put it on the shelf, then turned to head for the bathroom.  He noted that a long scalding shower always seemed to lift his spirits and he felt the dour mood that he loved so well begin to  settle in as time drew near for another night of reaping.

Take it away (Tuesday)

[He/She] closed the box, put it on the shelf, then… 

 — — — —

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Flash Fiction, Quick Fiction

 

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No Variations, No Exceptions.

It certainly looked busy behind the sliding glass window.  Velvet ropes defined the queue and God forbid that you should not follow that weaving path, even if there was nobody ahead of you.  Eye contact was hardly, if impossible to make and only a nasally, metallic voice, with boredom dripping on every syllable made the line move. “Next”, it  would bark out, as if the person at the head of the line was a mile across the waiting room and not standing directly two feet in front of  it.  Nothing could create  a motivation to accomplish tasks any faster as there were no incentives in place to do it better.  You stood and waited, until they were ready.  Procedures were to be followed, no variations,  no special treatment allowed.

She had been in the line since 4am, waiting her turn to get to the window.  Shuffle, stand, shuffle,stand.  If she could sleep in a vertical position, she would have had a good couple of hours rest, but no, she had never perfected that little trick, so she just waited her turn stoiclly, trying to ignore the pain in her head.

When finally “Next” meant her, she eased to the closest window.  The face on the other side leaned on a tilt, holding the phone in place with a cold shoulder and an uncaring ear.  The face had upon it, a look of total and complete uninterest.  “Uh-hum, uh-hum..sure… yes…that’s what I thought when I saw the date.” said the somewhat disembodied voice.  Since the counter in front of the face held a computer screen with the  waiting womans information printed in a very precise format, things could only be getting ready to go down hill from what was fast becoming a very deep rut in her road.

“Your insurance expired last month.”, the smooth voice stated, showing no empathy.  It waited for some type of response.  The woman began to twist in the wind and started digging through her purse.  ” No, NO,  you’re wrong. I paid that bill.  I have a cancelled check.  It’s here somewhere, give me a minute… I have to see the Doctor.  This pain is killing me and I must have some more meds”.  The face sighed heavily as if it were a personal affront that it was having to actually wait. “You must have insurance, no exceptions, no special treatment permitted” it droned.   Somewhere in the background a clock began ticking.  Time here was accounted for at all costs and while the line moved slowly, it was never allowed to stop for more than a minute.

The face was programmed for little, abet no patience, so the timer made all the decisions necessary for things to run efficiently.  The woman was really in a panic now as she dumped the contents of her purse in the middle of the floor and was frantically digging thru the mess for the cancelled check which would be her only salvation.  Ticket stubs, candy wrappers, pearl handled derringer,  grocery receipts,  hairbrush and a worn and frazzled identity card which had fallen out of her wallet, were all that she was finding.  Good Grief, what in the hell was she going to do?  The pounding in her head was now in sync with the ticking of the timer and the madness of the pain had her grasping at the pistol.

As the timer suddenly stopped with a clang, a low keening noise began to emanate from the woman. “Your place is now to be vacated” stated the face.   “Next” came its command to the queue that had been standing like stones watching the scene play out.   Time for a moment held its breath, as the pounding in the womans head took on a life of its own.  Raising the tiny gun from the mess she had made on the floor,  she fired between what supposedly were the eyes on the face.  Lights began flashing and sirens started to blare and the metallic face shattered into bits of silver electrodes and flecks of plastic shards.  “Hell with your “Next” and hell with your exceptions. Give me my Meds.”..and the line moved on.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Flash Fiction, Science Fiction

 

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Normal being Relative.

Molly was down in the basement.  No phone signal..and slow internet. Wafting aromas from the cafeteria floated by periodically yet in between the good smells she often caught what seemed to be an odor of something long gone bad.  “Rotting trash”, she thought hopefully.  “No, something much worse” she recognized with a sigh.  Molly had smelled that odor before in her own home.  Something evil-like coming up thru the vents in the floor perhaps?  She shuddered.  Buried bodies could be so very problematic.

Staff members came and went, wanting to meet with her to update their annual benefits.  The HR department had stuck her way back in this hole, having to keep everything private with those damn Hippa laws.  Not that she was claustrophobic, she just didn’t like windowless places.  Fluorescent lights casting shadows along the hallway didn’t help the atmosphere either and of course her guilty conscience only amplified the possibilities of just what could be lurking, somewhere..near..perhaps right around the corner?  God, she hated when her imagination started running amok on her.

She believed that the morgue was located in the basement of a hospital, or at least that is what they showed on TV.  “Didn’t freezing bodies eliminate odors?”  she thought. Surely they had a big enough generator here that problematic situations like a brown out would eliminate the need for plastic wrap and duck tape, which she had inadvertently discovered really didn’t work as well as one would think.

She looked at her watch and realized that quitting time was fast approaching and even better it was Friday.  She had plans again this weekend.  First, drinks and good times with  friends down at the new little pub that advertised Happy Hour Specials.  Her cohorts would be there, both ones that she liked and now with the exception of one, the others that she didn’t (those that were not so very nice to her.) 

She knew that talk would be about Harriet, the missing co-worker.  Speculation always ran rampant, especially when alcohol was part of the conversation.  She would sit quietly on the side and smile and nod, agreeing with the general consensus that Harriet had just finally quit on a whim and left town to work with another group.  The fact that she hadn’t told anyone she was leaving surprised no one really, as Harriet was the snotty type who put herself above everyone else and if you weren’t in her “need to know” group, you just didn’t get the skinny of  what she was up to anyway. Needless to say Harriet’s “holier than thou” attitude would not be a problem for anyone anymore. 

The last employee of the day had been a wrap and Molly was packing up her equipment and getting ready to shut off the lights when that foul odor once again drifted in the air.  Molly quickly did a sniff check of her clothes when it finally dawned on her that maybe that new detergent she was using had been unable to remove the unfortunate scent of death from her blouse.  “Maybe more fabric softener the next time would do the trick”, she thought, already planning a next time.  “Clorox was for stains” her mother always told her, “but you really need softener to make you smell pretty.”  She wondered if she should take the time to go home and change before going to the bar.  No she decided, she had another busy night ahead of her, places to go and people to bludgeon.  Tomorrow was Saturday after all and since Saturday was normally laundry day, she would have time to double up on the Clorox and Downey then.

 

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A History of Whoppers

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The rumor had  spread like fine sweet chocolate on her Mamma’s  two layer cake.  It was so smoothly done that sprinkles of truth could be imagined as decorations specifically made to enhance the story.  When something seems so scrumptious, everyone wants to indulge and share and there in lay the problem.  How was she ever going to retract the damage of her delicious sounding rumor?  She hadn’t meant for it to go as far as it did.  Really, she had not.  Unfortunately, as all rumors normally do, this one was developing a life of it’s own; and as lies also tend to do, things were rapidly coming back around and  preparing to bite her in the ass.

She had been raised a good southern girl, fearful of God and her Pappy.  There were few rules in her house other than the ten big ‘uns , which were hard enough for her to handle. Number nine especially tended to be a problem for her, since she was not too good at being able to distinguish between what was bearing false witness and what she considered painting a story which would make her popular.

Her Mamma had always told her, if you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.  Unfortunately she didn’t listen to her Mamma and when what had started as just a little  embellishment of a tale regarding Bubba and her sister, Olive Sue and what was supposedly seen by her of them down by Millers Pond; well it  had just developed into one walloping train wreck of a situation.

It seemed very unfortuitous to her that her Pappy had gotten wind of the tale that she, in her own mind, had so innocently  concocted and from what she could somewhat piece together, from her sister, Olive Sue, between the tears and hiccups, Pappy was headed over to Bubba’s house with the shotgun that normally hung over the fireplace (when it wasn’t being used to hunt squirrels).

Things needless to say, weren’t boding too well for Bubba, as her Pappy was a dead-aimin’ son-of-a-gun with that old shotgun and in his mind because of her so called “Saga at Millers’ Pond” was under the impression that there needed to be a wedding held..and soon… Real Soon and Pappy wasn’t one to take no for an answer neither.

Mamma was gonna have a fit when she found out what was going on and because of  somewhat, as Mamma called it, “a history of whoppers that seem to spew from someone in this family who happens to be ten years old”, she knew that the bell was tolling somewhere and it was getting louder and louder ringing out her name.

Reluctantly she took her sister by the hand and  drug her off the porch to head on over to where hopefully there would be only a Mexican standoff occurring and not blood being spilled.  Bubba was known for his running skills but buckshot was always faster.  Maybe Mamma would have gotten wind too of the ill in the wind that was a blowing and would be able to head Pappy off before any harm could be done.  Maybe the gun would jam, maybe Bubba would have the good sense to hide, maybe, maybe,maybe.  Too many maybes.

Anyway she cut it, she had started this mess and in the end would have to fess up.  It wern’t gonna be pretty.

Thinking Ten – Thursday-Spreading the Rumor.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Flash Fiction, humor

 

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The Gift

Smack in the middle of January’s brash bluster, a rare 68 degree day had cropped  up out of nowhere and she was taking advantage of the gift, one she took as a personal sign of a subtle Happy New Year greeting from Mother Nature.  The french doors were wide open allowing a balmy breeze to invade the room.  Both cats had come out of hiding from under her bed to languish in the however brief respite from the winter norm and they were tucked up under her arms,  coiled in circles, creating feline pillows emitting with each purring breath a slight hint of canned salmon.

An attempt to read had long given sway to the whisper of drowsiness which had crept up upon her.  The flannel throw was loosely draped over her bare toes, which twitched ever slightly as if imagining the feel of sandy beaches soon to be explored in the coming spring. Her eyes remained closed as her mind waxed and waned thru inconsequential  and mostly trivial thoughts settling finally on what she decided was the one true fact of the moment; that naps were truly a most under rated phenomenon.

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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Flash Fiction, Southern Humor

 

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The Fall

People watched me.  I could feel their eyes and the under the breath sarcasm.  “What a disaster.  What a mess.”  those were the nicer things I imagined.  Were those words about the broken bag with it’s contents rolling about the sidewalk, or were they directed at me personally?  One could never really know.

I rolled onto my butt and sat up slowly,  taking a long hard look at the blood starting to rise to the surface on my scuffed knees.  God, you would think I was back in elementary school, falling in the playground, feeling the tears start to well up but being too scared to attract attention of the kids who would knowingly laugh and point.  What an embarrassment.  Even back then I could feel their eyes.

My nose was running now and I started to pick the gravel bits out of the palm of my hands before I began a search thru my pocketbook for what was sure to be a non-existent tissue or even a more imaginary wet-nap.  I was never prepared for anything.

The grocery bag was split down the side and thru the bottom so everything had busted, of course.  There was pickle juice and orange juice co-existing in what was surely to become a nasty tasting brew to the line of ants that was starting to head in my direction.  Did they stay constantly alert for any sign of a food source within their reach or was it just dumb luck that they happened to be marching by?  Gods plan perhaps or they were just watching too.  It made we wonder.

I didn’t dare look up as I didn’t want to see the faces.  Embarrassment could never be hid especially when one could feel the redness creeping up one’s neck.  The rosiness in my cheeks had nothing to do with the cold and everything to do with my personal and ever present knowledge of all the inane things that I did on a daily basis.

Slowly I began to pick up the shards of glass, a stray olive here, a soggy loaf of bread there.  Of course no one bothered to help.  There were no volunteers, no voicing of concern.  Just their eyes, ever watching, ever condescending.

I slowly eased into a shaky but tolerable standing mode, smoothing my skirt and making a feeble attempt to tuck in my shirt. Desperate to display some sort of normalcy in my appearance so that the eyes would stop.  It was then that I realized, I was in the city.  The land where no ones cares or if they do, admittance is frowned upon.  There had been no need for my mortification, none what so ever.  None of this mattered as there were no eyes. No one watched…me.

Thinking Ten: Tuesday, Take it away: People watched me…

 
 

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A Little Christmas Eve Tale.

Timothy was what you could call a Free-Range mouse, since he was originally a pet for Michael, who as a typical ten-year old  boy with the attention span of a gnat,  had forgotten to latch his cage.  Traps were not allowed in the house since that breakout and even Micheal’s  mom now only rarely jumped when he skittered across den floor looking for dropped treats: a crumb for some, constituted a meal for one very small rodent with a darling black nose and grey fur as soft as, well a mouse.

Living quite comfortably in the wall behind the sofa, Timothy was always on the alert having noted that football Sundays were especially bountiful as they usually provided  him with a kernel of popcorn or a salted Planters peanut, which he would politely remove from under the coffee table, and place in his larder, for those days when Mom in a frenzy would actually run the  vacuum thus removing any potential meals within  a 12 by 12 radius of his cubby  hole.

On this evening however things were beginning to look up for the little mouse.  There was definitely something going on in the sphere which constituted his world: a tree with colorful lights now stood in the corner of the den, stockings hung over the mantle, like laundry after a Monday morning wash and a plate of cookies and a glass of milk had actually been left out on the coffee table, giving him the distinct impression  that after that man in red finished his delivery, had a polite taste of a cookie and finally vacated the premises via the chimney, there would be sufficient sugar crumbs to make his Christmas dinner a fine one.  What more could a mouse wish for on this Hallowed  Eve.

 

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