Sunday, April 29, 2012

Still Lifeless

The Sunday Flash Factory 5 to 50/55 challenge prompt words in bold.

The guests invited to his studio considered his sculptures anything but ordinary, the features so real, so precise. Many asked if any were custom designs. He smiled and answered they all were. How could they not be, he thought, when the model for each one was encased within the work.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What's a Girl to Do

The Sunday Flash Factory 5 to 50/55 challenge prompt words in bold.

It was not how Ella imagined her debut. No strawberries and cream. No slow ride on a tree-lined avenue at sunset. No magical moment. Instead, she felt like the only passenger on a mythical train. Even the damn slipper refused to fall off, no matter how hard she kicked.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Draftee

Jubilee Jones was a loan shark, an unusual job for a woman, most agreed. She was also the de facto Baptist in this all-Amish town. You're probably wondering how much business a loan shark would get in a place full of people who shunned money.

It turned out she ran one of the most successful money laundering businesses on the east coast. And why not? What cop would think to look here. Well one did, and I was his mole. I'd been drafted after my arrest for getting drunk and peeing in an alley during my Rumspringa. Once the elders found out what I was doing back here, I was certain to be shunned from the community. But it didn't matter. My plan was to do this one task and then disappear.

Jubilee stood looking out the window when I entered her office. A boulder of a woman, she wore a yellow kaftan and a red beret, an obvious insult against the rest of the women in town and the drab colors they wore. She turned to me and grimaced. When she did, the skin on her right cheek wrinkled and formed into what could have been a small pond.

"Ms. Jones?" I said.

"Yeah, what do you want?" She looked at me as if I was a bug waiting to be squashed.

"I have a delivery for you." I pulled a brown paper bag from my jacket pocket.

"Don't know what you're talking about, kid." She turned back to the window. "You must be in the wrong place."

"Enrique sent me."

She coiled around to look at me.

"You're not the usual guy."

"He's uh. . . He had a problem with Enrique." I twisted the bag's neck and wondered if the cop had been truthful with me. "I don't think you'll see him again."

"Enrique would have told me."

I shrugged my shoulders. "All I know is I was told to bring you the money."

"You live around here?" She waddled to her desk and held out her hand.

"I used to," I said and handed her the money.

I rocked from toe to heel while I watched Jubilee count, a low grunt coming out of her mouth as she flipped each bill.

"What're you waiting for? You ain't getting no receipt." Her faced turned into one big scowl.

"Um. . . Enrique said you'd pay me."

"I don't pay the mules. He does."

"He said he was a little short and that you'd take care of it. Said he'd pay you back in the next shipment." I tried my best to say this without shaking too much. It wasn't part of what I'd been told to say, but having been raised a pacifist, I needed some way other than using a weapon to get enough money to leave a life I no longer wanted.

Jubilee glared at me and drummed her fingernails on the desk. She puckered her cheeks and tossed a bundle of money at me. "He better."

I caught the stack of bills, put it in my pocket, and headed out the door. I didn't know how long it would be before the cops busted Jubilee. I hoped they'd wait until she did whatever she did next with the money. By then, I planned to be far, far away. At least that was my plan.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Uncle Puppet

The Sunday Flash Factory 5 to 50/55 challenge prompt words in bold.

Uncle Puppet

Aunt Bell called him Puppet Man because he couldn't make a decision. She understood. It was the way he was raised. She'd asked him out on dates, picked out her engagement ring, named their children, took videos of graduations. Now, fifty years later, he sat next to her coffin, not frantic, but unable to move.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Saving His Marriage

This story first appeared at Near to the Knuckle.

Tony sat at a corner table, his fingers laced around a glass of water, and watched the man traverse the room. He wore a grey suit, blue tie and brown shoes; and except for the limp, the man looked like a basketball player. He sat in the chair to Tony's right, the one facing the door.

"How long you been sober?" the man asked.

"What makes you think I'm an alcoholic?"

"Who else would sit in a bar with a glass of water?"

Tony spun the glass in his hand. Stared at the water. "Three months, twenty-six days."

The man saw Molly crossing the room and waved her off.

Tony raised his glass and smiled. "I'll have another."

"You like her," the man said.

"She's my daughter." Tony spun the glass some more.

The two men sat in silence while Molly deposited a full glass on the table and took the empty. She smiled at Tony. She didn't smile at the man.

"I got stuff to do," the man said. "You want to hire me, or what?"

"My wife is cheating on me." Tony's tone was as flat as a club soda that'd sat out all day.

"And you want me to find the guy. I charge one fifty a day plus expenses."

Tony lowered his hands into his lap while the man watched Molly slide a quarter in the jukebox. After a few groans from the relic, Hank Williams' voice filled the dusty air.

"Not exactly," Tony said. "I know who it is. A friend saw them coming out of the Super 8 in Smythville."

"How long has she been cheating on you?"

"Four months and thirteen days that I know of."

"So why am I here?" the man asked.

"You ain't figured it out yet?" Tony shook his head. "Man, you're stupider than concrete."

"She's your wife." The man looked toward the door. "I didn't know."

"Now you do," Tony said.

Before the man could make a move, a gun burped under the table and a bullet enter the man's gut. He raised a bloodied hand as a second bullet joined the first. His hand dropped like it was weighed down. His shoulders slumped, and his torso bent to one side.

Tony walked to the front of the room and placed the gun and a Benjamin on the bar. The bartender put the bill in his shirt pocket and the gun under the counter.

"I'll see everything gets taken care of, kid."

"Thanks, Uncle Frank. See you around."

Tony nodded three times to Molly and left the bar to go home to his wife.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Together at Last

The Sunday Flash Factory 5 to 50/55 challenge prompt words in bold.  

Scented candles lined the walls of the refrigerated room. The flickering lights echoed off the ivory inlaid on the sides of the open casket. Raymond had fantasized about them frolicking in a jacuzzi, but this would do. They were together, and once it'd become a reality, he lost his appetite. (50 words)