Friday, September 24, 2010

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #174 for Sept 24th, 2010

The Prompt this week was:

Use this lyric from Shore Leave to flavour your story: "Hong Kong drizzle on Cuban Heels" ~ You don't need to know or even hear the song - just use that lyrical imagery.  

Henrietta took a very long pull at the 'old fashioned' she had specially made in a highball glass. She blew the smoke from the pistol tip with relish.

The glisten on her painted lips gradually faded to be replaced by a trembling half smirk of irony. Tasting the remnant tang of gun smoke imprinting itself on her memory, she began a languid descent of the grand stairway feeling a great consanguinity with Mae West. Except there was no longer a man coming up the stair to see her anytime soon.

“I'll have to get the carpet cleaned” she observed, stepping across the blood soiling the last three treads. Stepping over the crumpled figure of a man, she let the revolver fall from her fingers and drop bomb–like onto his right cheek. Without looking back, Henrietta walked out the front door, slid into the driver's seat of the '56 Lincoln convertible, and drove away.


Lewis sat up slowly feeling like he'd been hit by a bus. He's right eye wouldn't open and feeling around he realised it was caked with dried blood. Exploring further, he was amazed to find that a graze across this temple and bruising around his chest and collarbone the only damage. He tore his shirt open and released the fastening of his bullet-proof vest, amazed again at what a lousy shot she was. Luckily.

It was raining again. He hoped the convertible had filled with water. She would have no idea how to raise the top, the dizzy bitch. A pity though, it had taken months of work to restore that white leather interior panel by a panel. By now she would be halfway to Atlanta if she had any sense, though somehow he knew she would have had to stop to buy clothes, or a hat and gloves. The lure of all that cash would be too much for her and he was certain she would be caught in no time.

Stepping to the veranda Lewis looked at the long wooded driveway, imagining himself trudging through the wet afternoon. He'd be lucky to reach town by dark and he began to wish he had worn better shoes; this pair he picked up in South America were strictly for show and will be lucky to last 20 minutes soaked in the roadside slush. At least he was finally rid of her. She who had stalked him across four continents claiming to have borne his child in an attempt to weasel her way into half his old family estate.

Lewis bent carefully, feeling every battered muscle, and gathered up his Chief Petty officers cap from where it had landed on the mouldy stoop. He never seemed to escape the rain, everywhere he went it was wet. On his last tour, bearing down through the South China Sea he had thought to retire to his old place in the South, imagining the warm sunny days of his youth. But the reality of this deserted old plantation was a far cry from those halcyon days. The bubble was burst and the dream over. Some shore leave this turned out to be!

With a sigh he stepped off onto the wet moss pocked gravel, too heart-sore to care about the rain as his mind swung to plan B. “I should've stayed in Hong Kong” he mused, his feet falling into steady rhythm, the shush of gravel in time with the aching pulse in his head forming their own blues riff. In his thoughts he was already back in the grey streets of the old city, the irony not lost on him as he found himself in a Hong Kong drizzle on Cuban heels.

Friday, September 17, 2010

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #173 for Sept 17th, 2010

Prompt: Why did the Tooth Fairy fail to deliver coins one evening? (follow the link to [Fiction] Friday's other responses! 

With a splintering crash the Tactical Response Group brought the operation to a close. Through the haze left by smoke grenades, James could barely recognise the interior of his newspaper's press room. Embedded with the local TRG he never thought his reporting would take him back to his own office or that he would face the possibility that anyone he knew could be embroiled in such an incredible tale of organised crime. In fact when he first took the assignment, he thought it would be a bit of excitement to keep him from a boring week of reporting banal suburban life and trivial small-town gossip.
Ainslie Buxton, chief editor of the Oldstown Herald was the quintessential newspaperman with half spectacles teetering precariously from the tip of his crooked nose and the piled up ash tray by his elbow bearing the weeks old butts looking for all the world like a small pyramid of animal droppings. The musty aroma surrounding Buxton also left much to be desired and any way you looked at him he was not in the running to win a popularity contest. He did however have one redeeming feature; the uncanny ability to spot a good story and sniff out the possibility of a scandal from 100 miles. As editors go he was decidedly old school and though the reporting team were terrorised by his constant screech for copy and his obsession with deadlines, there remained the grudging respect given a senior journalist who could wring a headline from thin air if necessary.
At precisely 5 AM every morning Buxton pushed his chair away from his desk, stubbed out his last cigarette of the night and donned his rumpled old hat, before heading out to the stairwell and making his way to the basement where he kept a private corner amid the floor-to-ceiling stacks of archived files. A leather chair, a cigar box and a small beer fridge had been fitted in around the assorted detritus of 110 years of newspaper production looking for all the world like they were growing there. 

On Friday the 17th however, he didn’t slump into his seat or prepare and light a cigar, or open a Guinness stubby from the fridge as was his custom. Upon entering the basement, instead he turned left and exited through a fire door into the narrow alley filled with the smells of inner-city garbage collection.
James came to the corner of the building and did his best to become an imprint in two dimensions against the rough stone alcove where he waited, etched into the shadow like a duotone graffiti print; just as cold and just as still. Then a movement at the far end of the alley, where the disused backdoor of The Herald discharged a weary, disheveled figure looking very much at home among the discarded rubbish and empty boxes.  James was jogged from his revere by the sound of a BMW that  coming to land like a Learjet, blocking even more of the light from the cross street to his right. Four Jag-clad thugs disembarked and made their way down the alley in the jingle of gold chains and glinting Rolex.
To James' surprise the four paid deference to the rumpled figure, then passed over a slender black briefcase which the surprise Don opened quickly and, glancing at the contents closed again with a snap. Peering through the muted halftones of the streetscape, James struggled to recognise the old man. Even when he disappeared back into the building he could not make the leap to consider it to be other than a strange intruder. It was when slipping back toward the side street that the resemblance struck him with a blow more devastating than if he had actually suffered violence. Mr Buxton.
Surely not, he thought. Then the pieces fell into place. It had shocked him when the sting's location was disclosed. The authorities had revealed little, despite his probing questions. He was mystified by the task-force code name “tooth fairy” - their droll name for the gangland figure who was rumoured to be ordinary by day and a ruthless autarch by night. If this were true, James wondered where the devil he found the time? Of course, he did have a small army of reporters to send off on information gathering expeditions, and he had great contacts inside the local police. In fact, all things considered, it was the perfect position of power. With a jot of his pen he could end a career, choose what was published, and what the population knew. He could rule the history of the town by wit and publicity. But not today. James broke into a run as the black SWAT van arrived and he followed the helmeted and kevlar swathed cops into the stair well, then onto the second floor. The door was locked from inside. A battering ram came forward. Two sharp pops of grenade launcher and then with masks down and automatic weapons leading, the squad stormed in.
On the floor, like the spill from a charity bin, lay Ainslie Buxton, AKA The Tooth Fairy and former chief editor of the Oldstown Herald. A fortune in gold coins, recently stolen from the museum, spilling across the floor from the briefcase in a luminous cascade.

Friday, September 10, 2010

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #172 for Sept 10th, 2010

Pressing the button more firmly this time, Jose waited nervously breathless, knees knocking inside her pressure suit as the portal's corroded servos began screeching their protest into the void. The facets of the sphincter finally begin a laborious expansion into their housings, protesting their arousal from retirement by the few solar cells still working. 
Jose could feel the torture of the alloy vibrating through the superstructure and braced herself against the shift in pressure to fight the drag of cold space while beginning her decent with practiced grace through the wreckage. This old crate wouldn't have been worth squat if the price of copper hadn't spiked again but now that the 2000 credits per kilo price point had been reached, every scrap-rat and scavenger in the solar system was scouring the junk in near earth orbit for the priceless metal.
Of course Jose was no exception. After all, who was she to judge those who were now her peers? She had secretly bargained, bluffed and plundered her way across every inch of known space in the five years since the united world council was overthrown and the corporations had finally taken charge. Now it was every capitalist for herself and Jose fully intended to be one of the winners. 
But this was no time for sky dreaming and she was brought rudely back into the present in a blast of compressed air and hydraulic fluid as the overstressed rams burst spewing their intestines outward in an embrangle of torn wiring, tubes, conduits and lines of razor-edged lagging. Jose was punched brutally into the framework and pinned in the writhing springy mass now caught precariously in the crook of an outer strut of the forward bridge of the abandoned hulk.
Quickly running a systems check for vital signs and peripheral damage, Jose gingerly brought two of her arms forward into the light of her photoluminescence visor. A gash as long as her forearm leaked plasma and alkaline film in a stream of droplets drawn outward in frozen ovoids. Damn but that hurt. Still, not the worst she had suffered and nothing a soak in her cocoon wouldn't fix but for now it was all she could do to free one more prehensile limb and get the medikit out to apply to the wound. 
The cool liquid feel of the nanos flooding out into the exposed cells to mesh in a chemically synthesized response to the damage was almost erotic in the wave of relief it brought. Jose glimpsed however briefly the world of the med addicts who lived only for the thrall of pleasure and pain as they at once severed then healed themselves in evermore narcissistic search for higher sensations.
There she was, sky dreaming again. Better check the… ah, there it is, of course, the increased blood endorphin levels from her extremely physical day had not only reduced pain but provided a euphoric high. "Ah, snap out of it" she said to herself out loud, then chortled at that as well before getting back to work stripping the threads of copper from the dangling veins of the old space station. Her first million credits wouldn't earn themselves.

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #172 for Sept 10th, 2010
Use one or more of these words  in your story (but resist the temptation to look them up first!)
  1. Periapt
  2. Vilipend
  3. Embrangle

Friday, September 3, 2010

[Fiction] Friday - #171 Albert is Dead

Ryan rolled over and kicked the sheets off his tired limbs. Feeling the lead in his legs as he sat wearily on the edge of the bed and clasped his head in his hands at the sound of King's bark. It was hard enough coping with being a single dad since Sophie died, but with their poor old dog continuing to bark because she had not come home from work, the pain was all the more intense.

The girls were coping well enough, in the resilient way of the very young. Ryan could not help but wonder how things would be for them as they grew older though, without their mother. He had no idea how he was going to cope once they reached their teens.
“King! King, knock it off” he yelled, and the dog finally came away from a fly screen door, padded down the hallway into his room and leapt heavily onto the bed beside him. “Good boy, good dog. There's a boy.” Ryan patted the big square head affectionately and found his tears flowing again.

“See you Mister Dunn” called Amy, their babysitter as she clattered out the front door. “Tomorrow” Ryan called back as the sound of flip-flops disappeared down the drive. "Afternoon shift isn't too bad" he thought, "at least it means I can spend more time with the girls in the daytime". Still, he really missed tucking them into bed the way he used to.

“Woof” said King, charging down the hallway again to scratch at the screen. He got up and followed King down the hall way shuffling his way past the kitchen door while rubbing his sore eyes. “Come on mate” Brian took the dog by the collar and lead him into the kitchen to make some breakfast, “thank God it's Friday”. Although with some reluctance Ryan remembered that he agreed to go to the local karaoke bar tonight with neighbours Marco and Alana Torreisis, and Linda, the quirky blonde from across the road.
Linda was sure she was being watched but continued the pretence of walking to the shops to please her husband and though it made her quiver with every fibre of her being, she went over her plans for the evening one more time. She felt bad involving poor Ryan like this, but there was no other way and her therapist assured that he would suffer no lasting damage. It it just had to be done. As she rounded the corner the police car door opened and she sat down into the back seat. The day had finally arrived and she would soon be free. She watched through a haze of tears as the SWAT team crept its way through the shrubbery toward her house, three officers splitting off from the rest of the team to approach the back.

There was a bang, and a flash followed by lots of shouting. Sounds of shelves falling over and a cascade of clattering plastic that she knew to be over 1000 DVDs. She could imagine them sliding like an avalanche across the floors. More shouting, then she heard Albert bellow like a bull in rage. The shouts rising to a crescendo followed by three very loud shots! Linda grabbed the door frame “Oh my God” she began to run.
“Missus, wait!” called the young officer behind her, but her mind was in a spin as she tore down the pavement. She stepped through the splinters of her smashed front door and pushed her way down the hall through the heaps of plastic canisters filled with years of receipts and other 'important' documents her husband hoarded. Everything was quiet in the house now but this made her even more afraid. “ Take him in for questioning” they said, “help us with our enquiries” they had said.

She rounded the corner into the kitchen and there was blood, frothing on his mouth, spattered across the wall and pooled like shiny resin flowing out across the vinyl. But worse, the stench of piss blending with the metallic tang of gunpowder and blood. The black-clad police standing guard and holstering weapons.

Sound of running. “Is everyone all right!” Ryan called pushing past the police, followed closely by King's shaggy form. “Holy shit” he exclaimed coming to an abrupt stop before the huge corpse. 
"Yes" said Linda in a daze. Before he could be stopped, King began lapping at the edge of the sticky pool. Linda collapsed into Ryan's arms.

Story inspired by the Fiction Friday response at

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Love in Spring

Spring is back with budded head flaring
Bare ground aroused with colours soon blaring
Broken stem and close pruned roses
Exploding outward in outrageous poses
Crusted bough under lichen and mould
Softened by green as fresh leaves unfold
Sap running tide-like through stems newly hatched
Blossoms appearing with honey bees attached
Time when young boys grow more gallant inside
And Gals feel a buoyance their faces can’t hide
For great loves begin slowly the way this year’s buds will
From the stems of old roses that are blossoming still

A Date With Cinders (An Elizabethan Style Sonnet)

Get in my car with me, I’ll take you out.
We’ll have a super time till midnight’s chime,
when you should go, you mustn’t hang about.
When you’re half naked there lies six months grime.
We’ll leave the dance and get you back home quick;
I wouldn’t want step-mum to catch us here.
You know the sight of me will make her sick
Now that the prince’s wedding’s gettin’ near.
Oh Cinders, curse that stupid little fairy
who waved her wand to get you to the ball.
She got you hitched up with that lisping Mary;
A prince or not, he’s got no brains at all.
I’m sorry love to make you feel so bad,
My first love lost, I’ll always be this sad.

Under Stones

Lonely together
In orderly terraces
They commune in silence
Across the discarded slope.
Gravely they ponder the hours
Awaiting visitors who
Arrive in dribbles of conscience
Or just to steal the roses.
Her moss is coating the words
Her lichen has changed
Her middle name
To smith.
His special text
Has succumbed to the decay
Of sixty winters of frost
And is forgotten.
Laying there
Under their bleached stones
A whitewashed memory
Has a name and a life.
They are watching us
Argue with our time
Believing what we do
Is so important.
They can smile
When we forget them
They understand
In a heart beat
We will be them.


While sipping Beach House brutt the other day
I dreamed of mundane things and their beauty
My nefarious past drifted by on clouds
Like boats and bikes and stripy topped bathers
Of splish splashing children’s heavenly smiles.
My father’s picture in fair haired tight curls
hung over the doorway of Gran’s parlour
telling of his childhood just like mine; where
his father told him of his fathers time.
Their history unnerves me, their home is lost.
The wine lowered slowly, shortening the
rise of its bubbles the same way our time
for living is lessened with each passing
of the clock’s hand by twelve. I live in short
bursts of inspiration; champagne foaming
to be consumed by time’s lips, tounge and teeth.
My ancestors rejoice, their bain cast off
as I am swallowed; “fitting end for fools.”
late arrives to break my fearful mood
Its taste reminds me of days yet to live.
Chef’s specials waft into my deep revere
The wine has gone where temporal things go
swelling my stomach with its glowing buzz
because it does that for me when I dive
too deep into the past. I reach for
the strong coffee to quell the allergy 
I have to my history and its faces
like asthma it takes away my breathing
unlike coffee, which hits me as a wish
granted by the genie of the future.

Safe Hands

There it all is, some would say,
The oyster filleted and spread before you,
The whole man encapsulated in the contours of wear and tear.
Where do we view the secrets of the inner self?
Are they so displayed somewhere?
Do pathologists read them on your brain tissue at the autopsy?
These leather-some lines of interest we live in:
Are they chosen?
Or are they the serendipitous residues of a diverse experience?
It is something to ponder though isn't it?
How the lines on ones hand can tell our most intimate details,
Yet we stumble around in insomnia-ic shadows.
I'm certain there is a book on it in our library.
A baby boomer with a thing for crusty skin and silk head-kerchiefs,
Ensconced in a fairground tent can tell you all your mysteries.
Now I'm afraid to do anything that might injure my hand.
I sit with it propped upon a cushion in the lounge surrounded by jars of moisturiser
Afraid the lines will be damaged. Afraid they may even be broken! Oh God!
If the lines on my hand tell the past and present,
And if what you do with your hand determines your future, I won't last till next week! 
I have my son's nappies to change!

If I Wake

Inside there is a burning, a wasting of inner strength like fat burning as I run in a fitfully asthmatic sprint toward the ever lengthening corridor with steps falling like a metronome in time with a my fast beating heart.
Feet slipping backward as the heavy linoleum floor tilts forebodingly above me rising into a circle and still I run. Round and round towards the door of 308. Something not done, something not done, something important forgotten.
I sweat buckets of salty drops which fall slowly toward the floor as slow-mo movies in late night television show snow.  Never slowing and heart pounding painfully harsh breathed molten hot gusts of thick gas like blacksmith bellows melting steel.
Whirling soupy pool of dread, sucking at me, drawing me off the floor, slewing side-long into the well of despair as the door comes in sight, slow, so slow that I can feel the shift of its molecules while head pounds in time to strange music. A chanting of familiar phrase.
A vice-like pressure on wet temples.  Clothing stretched tightly round, holds legs and arms, pain.  Arms responding too late and legs leaden and useless, I fall and fall turning over and around.  The door goes past in a drugged blur as I reach desperately for the jam to no avail and the moment is lost.
Keeping the flood of watery gel around me from entering past my teeth and sipping air through tiny bubbles rising from doorways, I swim toward the light below the door.  Drawn in torture towards that which I fear and know it is my only hope of escape.
Every fibre screams for release and with the very last of my strength I drag in a breath of watery spittle to cry out a final cantrip powerful against death and ….my hand passes through the doorway the water subsides and I open my eyes. Awake. Its my birthday today.  Blog due today!  I haven't prepared!  My dream will have to do.


Decided to open up and talk of life.
Not the peripherals this time
Only what makes a connection
Between heart and head
Synapses join, creating fresh links.
In time, a new pattern may emerge,
Forming bridges 
Between what I perceive and what is.
A fear grows of being the only one
For whom that strange music plays
Splinting my soul.
Do you hear it too?
Does the noise of misconception
Jangle your cochlea, 
Making you spin tumbling
Inside your skull?
Shake the box
Letting your dice drop onto the dialogue
What do you find?
Gather them again
Throw harder and faster
Building a stack of comprehension chips
You can bargain for a peace
You will never have without the gamble.
High odds and fearsome opponents
For best results.
I'm game if you are!
All I need now
Is a little loose change to begin.
My pockets seem empty
I shared with you my deficit and you
Found a small coin 
In a lint-filled corner of my stitching.
Place your bet.
What do you see here in the dust?
A winner, or a lamed dogger
Waiting to be glue?
With a little polish
I find the coin is a dollar
Then two
Overwhelmed that there is
Still value to be found
In the pocket of my mind
I'd like to keep the coin
Realising that only sharing it
Will have the chance to grow.
Now waiting for the season to change
Ready for the planting.
I guess I can wait till then.
Till the end of winter.
Spring is coming.