Laundromat

Always thought the laundromat would be good for writing. In a dark poetry, seedy underbelly, Tom Waits kind of way.

But, there is scant sad beauty to be had in that one sock left behind at the bottom of the machine.

The dryers aren’t hot enough to burn away your sins. Not at six minutes for a quarter anyway.

It’s been weeks and I have yet to hear any secret, sobering wisdom from the mouths of crazed junkies, if I’m lucky enough to find one.

Shame how life won’t imitate art.

Guess I should be used to disappointment by now.

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Spring is Here | Happy Monday, March 20, 2017

Today is the first day of spring here in the northern hemisphere. That is of course a matter of the relative angle of The Earth to The Sun, your individual weather experience may vary. Traditionally it’s a time for clearing out the cobwebs and looking forward to new beginings.

I’ve not been well lately, either physically or mentally. One most assuredly has to do with the other, though it is hard sometimes to tell which is the chicken, and which the egg. The details of this are not interesting to me in the least, so I won’t go into it I have been finding glorious unproductive solace in playing video games, which have long been a favorite on the escapism front. Now, by some small coincidence of time, I’ve decided to poke my head out of my den, examine what I am looking forward to and maybe shake out the clutter a bit.

I recently found it in my budget to finally replace the computer that died some months ago, which has facilitated my recent foray into Sunless Sea, and Long War 2. This also means that I am able to pursue my sideline interest in game development. I have been making a small hobby of learning a bit of C# programming and using the Unity engine for a while now, which got benched when the old computer crashed. Now I have in mind a long but, manageable project that I am quite excited about working on in the coming months.

A coworker purchased a large number of role playing game books, with the intention of getting into the hobby. He has, however, found it hard to find a jumping off point. I have been convinced/ magnanimously offered to run a short campaign for him to get his feet wet. So I can add that to the list of projects for the coming month. It has been a some years since have sat around a table menacing people with a set of dice, so it seems like it should be quite enjoyable. The group I’ve tentatively assembled is fairly in experienced in gaming so it should also be educational, as well as very geeky.

There are a scant few weeks left of the school year and, my daughter will start summer vacation relatively soon. My work schedule is opposite her school day and I don’t get to see her much most of the year. I’m thinking about a couple  of passes to the community pools and some ice cream dates to catch up with each other. Maybe we’ll get around to building some slingshots in the back yard too.

Lastly I am just glad to see the back of the cold, erratic, and sunless weather of winter. It will be nice to enjoy my late morning coffee and journaling from the comfort of my front porch enjoying the sunshine and warm breezes, watching the flowers bloom.

That’s what I’m looking forward to anyway. I am sure that I have plenty of upcoming things to dread, but it’s nice not to focus on those for a bit… For a change.

How about you?

Happy Monday.

P.S. As a bonus, because I’m in such a good mood I’ll leave you with one of my favorite spring time tunes.

 

 

Dream of Her

He dreamt of her last night. Her death, and then attending her funeral. Waking in tears.

He didn’t cry when it happened. Not when his father could see.

The sadness had belonged to the old man then, more than himself. It had been his turn to be strong. To soldier on. For his father. For the other mourners. Maybe a little bit for himself, just to see if he could.

For years after, he had forgotten to grieve. Never really learned how. Never took the time.

This morning he wept, the memory of her face lost except, in that dream.

A Little Less Feeling

Xalthus looked down perturbedly from the branch he perched on. He stared at the smoking crater, and tried to figure out if his situation could be worse. When this got too depressing he instead considered ways his life could be improved. Maybe if he were some other animal?

He had put some thought into this before and, on the whole he enjoyed being an owl. He had sometimes thought about what his existence might be like as some other creature Maybe a cat, they had the advantages of stealth and grace. Perhaps a bear, good hardy creatures, strong, intimidating. Bears, like owls were also seen as fonts of wisdom, in certain cultures anyway.

He often had reason to review a long list of other things he could have been. In the end he was usually grateful that he was not Guillaume.

Guillaume was the young man lying in the crater, looking slightly bewildered, heavily singed and smelling mostly of ozone. He was nice enough fellow, Xalthus supposed, hard working, friendly, eager. Just perhaps a bit too timid and nervous in ways that spoke to something in Xalthus’s owlishness and reminded of a mouse. At times Xalthus found himself fighting the urge to swoop down on the boy and snare him in his talons. All in all though, he was a decent sort, if you were into the whole consorting with mortals thing. He could take it or leave it himself, except having been forced to take it and forbidden to leave. Guillaume’s major fault was that he was a bit too uncertain of himself. Yes, that was it, under confidence. Also he lacked sufficient concentration for his given profession.

Given was the operative word, Xalthus conceded. Guillaume was not offered a real choice in the matter. Rupert needed an apprentice and Guillaume’s parents needed one less mouth to feed so a bargain had been struck. The boy was too honest to run away. Not Rupert that was cruel master, he was just easily frustrated. Rupert wasn’t a particularly patient teacher either. Eventually their combined shortcomings made the the boy’s training untenable.So, the old wizard summoned Xalthus, and bound him him to the form of an owl, which again was not overall an unpleasant experience, and essentially said, “You there. Show him the ropes and, make sure he doesn’t get in too much trouble.”

Xalthus sighed, he supposed neither one of them really wanted to be here. Still neither had much of a choice. He let himself ponder this for a bit longer, then stretched his wings.

“Alright lad, “ he tried with an encouraging tone, “let’s try it again. Once more, from the top. This time with, perhaps, a little less feeling.”

This story was written in response to a Flash Fiction Challenge issued by Chuck Wendig at his blog Terrible Minds. You can check out the other entries in the comments there.
The random photo I received as a prompt for the challenge can be viewed here, and I hope I did it some justice.

Useless Update about a Plant

Henry, my desk plant, was repotted today as it was getting a bit root bound in the small terracotta I had initially used. The blue-grey plastic one Henry now resides is nice but I feel it may not match the rest of my desk decor. My wife has advised that Henry will definitely outgrow the desk plant status eventually anyway.

Such is life I suppose.

On the issue of Henry versus Henrietta, other than the fact that it is an asinine question in the first place,  it turns out that Henry is a plural noun.

With two smaller plants becoming evident now that Henry has had a chance to stretch out a bit.

This is very important information because I am amazed I am actually able to keep the damned thing alive and, I thought I’d share it with you all while I wait for the child to get out of her chorus practice.

Shame About the Roses

Edna sat in her study listening to the wind howl. She peered out at the garden with disappointment. The flowers had just started to bloom when the weather suddenly changed. She watched with dismay as the snow and sleet beat down the plants. They had just gotten the levels in the soil right, and finally solved all the problems with the CO2 saturation. Everything looked perfect for their first planned spring. Then the blizzard happened.

What a waste, she thought.

There was a nervous cough behind her.

“Well, what happened?”

“Faulty regulator in the climate system, ma’am.” The ensign replied nervously. “Engineering can get it sorted out in a day or two. Lieutenant Carlson says he will be able to roll back the cycle once that is done and we’ll be able to replant right away.”

“I hope so. I really am looking forward to eating something other than nutrient paste at some point this year. Have them send me their full report.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Edna ignored the young man until he decided to leave on his own.

She got up and walked to the window and placed her hand on the thick glass. The roses were really the biggest disappointment. The colony had plenty of seed stock for food stuffs. The roses though, she would have to requisition new bushes from command back on Earth. That was sure to be just like pulling teeth.

It was such a shame. She really thought the roses would have finally make the place feel like home.

This scene was written in response to a prompt by Today’s Author

The Porcelain Cat

It was recess. I was standing under the sycamore tree, feeling woozy. I’d spent too long hanging upside down on the monkey bars. I was just about sure I wasn’t going to ralph when she walked by.

New kid, I didn’t know her name. Parents just moved here from out-of-state. Seemed a friendly, girl. Today she was all sniffles and tears. I hated seeing a girl cry, it took the fun out of recess

“What’s wrong, kid?”

“I lost my cat.”

“It ran away?”

“No,” she sobbed, “not a real cat. A statue, made of porcelain. All white with a little pink bow, playing with a ball of yarn. It was my grandma’s. My parents told me I couldn’t bring it to school but I did anyway ‘cause I wanted to show someone. Only now it’s gone.”

That’s when the water works really got going. I didn’t know what to do, so I tried to sound helpful. “Hold on now… what’s your name anyway?”

“Matilda.”

“Alright Matilda, I know my way around the schoolyard. Where’d you see it last?”

“Miss Marshall’s class, she made me put it in my cubby. I was gonna get it out to bring it to recess to show it to Jenny. I told her about how cute it was and she begged me to bring it in so she could see it.” She wiped her nose with a sleeve and snorted hard trying to get a hold of herself.

“Which Jenny are you talking about?” There were three Jenny’s in our grade but I was pretty sure I knew which one she was going to say.

***

Jenny Billings. Everyone in our grade called her Miss Kitty, and she didn’t mind it either. Everything she owned had cats on it. From her Hello Kitty back pack to the homework folder printed with glossy pictures of kittens all over it. Kids said she even brought her own bandaids from home. So she didn’t have to wear the plain ones the nurse handed out when she scraped a knee. We never really got to be friends, mostly because I liked dogs.

I found her by the slide. She got all snooty when I asked he about the cat.

“Matilda told me about her kitty statue. It sounded so cute. I asked her to bring it in for me to see. She never showed it to me though. She said she couldn’t find it, that it got lost or something. I couldn’t tell she was too busy crying. I don’t even think she really brought it in. Maybe she just made it up so I’d be friends with her,. New kids are always telling lies so people will like them, but I don’t make friends with just anyone you know. They have to love kitties as much as I do.”

“C’mon Jenny, you sure you ain’t seen it. I bet you’d do anything to get your hands on a thing like that. Matilda says you begged her to bring it in.”

“I never begged.” she put her fists on her hips and huffed. “She said she’d show it to me and that’s all. Besides, I haven’t been anywhere near Miss Marshall’s class today.”

***

I could tell I wasn’t getting anywhere with Miss Kitty, so I headed off back to the shade tree where Matilda was waiting. She looked so hopeful when she saw me coming. That look went away when I told her that Jenny was a dead end. I even check with my friend Jimmy, the hall monitor. He hadn’t seen Jenny on that side of the school all morning.

“So it’s gone, forever?” The tears welled up again and she started to wail.

I never could stand to watch another kid go all rubbery. So, I made faces at her till she couldn’t help but laugh, and she slugged me in the arm to get me to stop.

“Look, Matty, it that bad yet. Think, when did you check on it last?”

“Just before reading.”

“Do you stay in Miss Marshall’s for that?”

“No, I have reading in Mrs. Dillard’s room.”

“And, that’s right before lunch right? So now all we got to do is think of someone who stays in Miss Marshall’s for reading. They might have seen if someone took it.”

“You really think someone stole my porcelain cat?”

“I doubt it walked away. Now who do you think might have seen something?”

“Jeremy,” she said excitedly, “and his desk is towards the back. You can see the cubbies from there.”

***

Jeremy Reynolds, was the type of kid that would eat just about anything if you promised him whatever you had lying around in your pocket. Especially if it meant grossing out a few of the other kids. He always drew a crowd. I waited for him to stop chewing before I walked up.

“You’ve got reading with Miss Marshall. You see anyone messing around over by the cubbies today?”

“Why should I tell you?” A smile crept across his face “I mean, what’s it worth?”

I didn’t like some schoolyard sideshow trying to get smart, so I got mean with him.

“Listen doofus, I ain’t got all recess. If you know something helpful, there’s a couple of Garbage Pail Kid cards in it. But, if you keep messin’ around the next thing this playground is gonna watch you eat is a knuckle sandwich.”

Jeremy swallowed hard. “Mickey, Mickey Donnelly. I don’t know about cubbies but, he kept getting up to sharpen his pencil, three or four times. Teacher fussed at him.”

“That’s it? That’s all you saw?” I turned to walk away, “Thanks for nothing.”

“What about those cards.”

“I said two cards if you could help, and you can’t. You’re lucky I don’t give you a wedgie for wasting my time. Tell you what here’s one for your trouble, now scram.”

***

I found Matilda over by the merry-go-round. Poor thing, she thought that if she got dizzy enough her problems would just fly away. I couldn’t blame her. We’ve all taken a few extra spins when the chips were down. I sat on the edge of it with her as it spun to a stop, and told her that Jeremy didn’t know anything.

“Maybe he took it?”

“Nah, he might be a greedy, bug-eating creep but, he’s too much of a fraidy cat to steal something.”

“So, there’s nothing else we can do?”

“We can not use the same pencils as Mickey Donnelly.”

“What?”

“Jeremy said he kept getting up to sharpen his.” That’s when it hit me. The thing that didn’t add up. “Wait a minute who needs to sharpen a pencil three times when you’re just reading?”

“My cubby is right under the pencil sharpener” Her eyes widened with hope.

“Come on Matty, Recess is almost over.”

***

We bolted across the playground. Mickey was the tallest kid in our grade, it wasn’t had to spot him at the sandpit, hanging out with his knuckle head friends. They liked to act like they owned that place. Jenny Billings was there too. The sandbox seemed a rough place for little Miss Kitty .

“Fancy seeing you here Jenny”

Jenny stuck her nose in the air and looked away. “Mickey and I are old friends.”

“Friends? Sure, you both like cats. Maybe porcelain ones?”

“Go away before I pound you runt” Mickey slammed his fist into his own open hand.

“You’re not pounding anyone. Give me the cat. We can all walk away. No one gets in trouble. You don’t want to get into trouble do you Mickey?”

Mickey lunged forward swinging. I was used to dealing with angry oafs from being punched on by older brothers. I stepped aside and stuck my foot out. Mickey tripped and fell over catching a mouthful of sand.

Something white tumbled out of his pocket, the soft ground breaking its fall.

Jenny grabbed it and started to back away..

“Give it here Jenny, we can all just go back to class.”

“No,” She screamed. “The kitty is mine now.”

I started to move towards her but Mickey had got back to his feet. He grabbed me, throwing me to the ground. I tried to roll away but he landed his knee on top of me. This is where I get clobbered, I thought, shutting my eyes.

There was a shrill sound and everything stopped. Hall monitor Jimmy came running up with Coach Davis waddling behind him tweeting on his whistle. Mickey got off me and just sat in the sand. He knew the drill. Jenny didn’t, she turned and ran.

Straight into Miss Marshall.

First they tried to blame me. When they couldn’t keep the story straight they blamed each other. It didn’t matter.

Jimmy already told the teachers what was going on, like I asked him.

When the day was over, Matty got her porcelain cat, and the two of them got a trip to the principal’s office.

This story was written in response to a Flash Fiction Challenge issued by Chuck Wendig at his blog Terrible Minds. You can check out the other entries in the comments there

Lost Letter

 

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“Dammit!” he hissed, hopping on one foot, looking for what he banged his toe on.

An old bottle lay there. Inside was a scrap of paper.

He thought back to summer of his fifth grade year. Pirates were his fascination then. He’d read about marooned sailors sending messages off in bottles in hopes of rescue.

All summer he’d write notes, stuff them in empty soda bottles, screw the caps tight, and set them adrift. Not out of need for rescue. Just in hopes they might reach some distant shore. That someone might send back a reply in some exotic bottle from parts unknown. He would chase every bit of detritus that glinted as it bobbed in the surf just in case.

It never was.

Later he grew up and learned about ocean currents, weather patterns and how unlikely that his messages ended up further than a few miles down the shoreline. He also learned about global marketing. That anyone in parts unknown probably had the same boring coke bottles that he did.

He grabbed the bottle by the neck, and hurled it back into the Atlantic, once again off to parts unknown.

He hoped the weather was nice there.

 

This story was written in response to a photo prompt at Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Too White Shoes

 

There’s this one thing
I can’t seem to do,
That’s stop looking down at
Those too white shoes.

They didn’t quite fit
On some other guy’s feet,
And were given to me
‘Cause they’re something I need.

They’re a real brand name
And look strange I suppose,
When worn with my thrift shop
And bargain store clothes.

They’re not really me
And it looks and it feels,
Like someone else’s feet
Have been attached to my heels.

Out of place they may be
But they’ll just have to do,
And I’ll make my way out
In those too white shoes.

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Not Tonight, Honey

I should be cold, he thought lying there on the pavement as the rain fell lightly around him. Instead he felt a warmth creeping along his back as blood oozed from where the bullet had gone through him. He felt that he should be scared, he was. The terror of the moment had stricken him so completely it overwhelmed him, leaving an odd stat that seemed to be a horrifying mockery of calm and clarity. He couldn’t see, not with that security guard shining his damned flashlight in his eyes. He opened his mouth to shout at him it to get it out of his face, but he couldn’t catch his breath. So instead he just laid there listening to sound of his friends footsteps running away on the wet pavement and the sirens in the distance.

He started thinking about her.

He had only met her a couple of weeks ago. They had only gone out a few times, she was always busy. He thought she had promise, though. She was smart and funny, he didn’t know if he’d call he gorgeous though. He remembered the first time he got her to smile, it was a great smile, but he couldn’t help notice her teeth were just a little bit crooked. Her nose was slightly misshapen too. She had told him once, maybe cause he was staring, that she had broken it a bunch of times dancing at shows back in her punk rock days. That she’d always wind up, later on in the night, drunk in the bathroom of some bar looking in the mirror trying to set it back into place.

He liked that image of her though. Some tough girl in a mosh pit. How it didn’t quite match up with the woman he knew. The one that had to stop and make baby talk at every dog they passed by. They always fell for it too. He had seen her walk right up to some mean ass dogs that roamed around the neighborhood and, after a minute or two they’d be on their backs getting belly rubs. Then she would say some nonsense about how they had always been a good dog, they just needed someone to come along and remind them. He wondered if she felt the same way about him.

So yeah, maybe not gorgeous but she was definitely beautiful which was a lot better.

He had known some gorgeous women in his life and somehow, after a while, the polish would wear off and there would always be this filthy, petty, mean spirited person underneath it all. Not her though, she shined all the way down to the bone. Yeah, he’d take beautiful over gorgeous any day.

He was sorry when he had to disappoint her. They were supposed to have dinner to night. She had made reservations. Someplace nice, she’d gotten that promotion she’d been chasing, and wanted to celebrate. He had just gotten off the phone with her when Nicky had shown up at the shop and told him about the job.

He didn’t want to do it. He was trying to be done with all of that stupid bullshit. He owed Nicky though, owed him big. More importantly, as Nicky was kind enough to point out, he owed someone else. The kind of person you didn’t just say no to.

So he had sat there at his workbench for a bit. Trying to figure a way around it. Until he finally called her back to cancel.

“Not tonight, honey,” he told her. “Something important came up.”

This story was written in response to a Flash Fiction Challenge issued by Chuck Wendig at his blog Terrible Minds. You can check out the other entries in the comments there