The Sky is Crying

Paul stared out the windows from behind his desk in the study.  The mist that had been threatening all day began to fall in earnest as a steady rain.  The gloom of the afternoon crept into his sanctuary making it difficult to see the diary in front of him.  He took out a match and lit the candle.  The small flame chased away the darkness from around him, but it still gathered in the corners of the room.  Outside, sheets of rain fell across the fields.  A small herd of deer slowly made their way through the soggy grass; backs hunched, legs stiff, ears drooping.  Occasionally one would stop to shake the water from itself; the spray joining the rain suspended in the air for a moment before returning to the grey coat.  A gust of wind blew up, catching the raindrops.  They danced and swirled with the air currents.  Paul let out a deep sigh, picked up his discarded pen and began to write, “The rain comes down in a torrent sweep . . .”

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Another great prompt from Jeremy’s Hello Wednesday Challenge.  I would like to imagine this is the scene that Paul Laurence Dunbar saw when he wrote that line.  What images come to you when you read the prompts?

This week’s lines of poetry are:

  1. let me paint a thank-you on my palm – Welcome Morning by Anne Sexton
  2. The rain comes down in a torrent sweep – Summer in the South by Paul Laurance Dunbar
  3. Till thought on thought drew downward tear on tear – Flush or Faunus by Elizabeth Barret Browning

If you use this prompt please link back

Posted in Fiction, Jeremy's Daily Challenge, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Take Down

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, 1942. Public Domain

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, 1942. Public Domain

So there I was, sitting at Phillies, having a cuppa mud.  It had been a long night of tracking down leads that wound up at dead ends.  Seems Stella didn’t want to be found.  And if there was one thing I had learned on this case, is that whatever Stella wants, Stella gets.

Anyways, Jimmy was behind the counter finishing his cleanup work.  Nice enough kid, always polite, but something seemed off.  His eyes were always darting up and down the street outside the large glass panes that encircled the diner, searching for something.  So, as I motioned for a refill, the front door opens.  And would you believe who walked in; Stella and her current paramour Slick Willy.  This guy was a piece of work.  Nothing happened in this part of town that he didn’t have a finger in or a say in how it was run.

Stella briefly looked up as she settled on the end stool, caught my gaze briefly, then began an inspection of her manicure.  This dame was a knockout.  The red velvet dress really set off her hair and made her already pale skin almost translucent.

Jimmy produced two cups and set them in front of Stella and Willy.  Funny thing, he didn’t pour anything from the pot he used to fill my cup, but their mugs obviously had liquid.  Could this joint be one of Slick Willy’s fronts for bootleg?

The phone rang up beside the cash register.  Jimmy wiped his hands dry before walking over to answer.  After a brief acknowledgement he held the phone up, “For you, boss.”  While none of us flinched at Jimmy referring to Willy as “boss”, the term did solidify my theory that Phillies was a front for his operations.  I was getting close to cracking this ring wide open.  I just needed the last piece of the puzzle to fall into place and thus far Stella was refusing to play along.

Willy slid off his stool and strode to the front of the diner and picked up the phone.  When he spoke it was in such a low tone I couldn’t make out what was being said.

Stella lifted her pocketbook up to the counter and began rummaging through its contents.  Presently, she pulled out a compact and tube of lipstick and began making up her face.  Watching her slowly apply the color to her lips brought a flush to my face so that I pulled my hat further down on my brow.  Boy, she had all the moves.  She then pulled a napkin out of the dispenser next to her and dabbed lightly at her lips, taking away any excess wax.  She then continued to rummage through her purse before she put it aside and stood up.

“You gotta cigarette machine around here?” she asked Jimmy.

Without looking up, Jimmy jerked a thumb to the front of the diner.

As Stella slowly floated behind me she brushed my jacket ever so lightly.  A poor slob who was completely taken by her charms might have missed the actual tug as she slipped something into my pocket, but it wasn’t lost on me.  After procuring her smokes she came back to her stool and sat down.  Again, very briefly, our gazes met.  I gave her a quick wink that was hidden from Jimmy and Slick Willy.

I fished out some change from my pocket and threw it on the counter to cover my tab.  I readjusted my hat and headed for the door.  Willy gave me a quick once over, but continued his conversation.

Outside the diner, I stood with my back against the building and fished out the note Stella had deposited in my jacket pocket.  There, on the napkin with her red lipstick kiss was the final piece I needed.  In her distinctive hand it read, “Everett Warehouse, 6 AM, shipment due.”  At last, Stella had come through.  Cracking this case was going to be the feather in my cap.  I shoved the note back into my pocket and made a beeline back to my office.  Only a couple hours to get all the finishing touches done before the notorious Slick Willy would be sent to the big house for good.

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In today’s writing challenge, you’ll choose a scenario (or invent your own) and write a poem, a short story, a vignette, a scene, or flash fiction based on Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

I couldn’t pass up this week’s challenge.  I have always been intrigued by Hopper’s  Nighthawks.  So full of storytelling possibilities.

Posted in Fiction, Weekly Writing Challenge, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Oh, Good Grief!

 

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I love this time of year.  Why, my Northern Hemisphere brethren might ask with the shortening days and the polar vortex winding itself up in the Siberian Steppes?  Very simply.  This is the time where the BEST Charlie Brown television episodes air here in the U.S.  Today I treated myself to “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”  Next month will be “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”, and in December, “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!”

These stories all came out in the 1960’s and 1970’s, when I was a little girl.  They spoke to me about the issues of culture, religion, fitting in, bullying, and being true to oneself.

So, which characters in the Peanut Gallery do you identify with?

First and foremost, I relate to Charlie Brown.  He is the eternal underdog.  He is always on the outside looking in.  He always hopes for that party invitation that never comes.  He questions all existence.

After that, I like to think of myself as having a little of Sally’s unquestioning romanticism.  When I love, it is with every fiber of my being; and when it goes all pear shaped, I am vengeance personified.

Then of course there is PigPen.  While I’m not quite to the level he is, I have been very close.  Not to mention, he is so eloquent when defending his personal hygiene choice.

Finally, I have to say I am a little bit like Woodstock.  Someone who dances to a different drummer, but who is always caught up in the doings of others.

I don’t think it matters what stripe, spot, scale or feather you come from; there is something in all of these episodes that can be related to.  If you have the opportunity, see if you can’t find these tales online and then ask yourself, “Are we so different?”  Then see if you can get Vince Guaraldi’s music out of your head.

Posted in Creative Non Fiction, Stream of Consciousness, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A View Off The Porch – Coming Home

When I imagined doing this post, I thought about how to tell about all the trials and tribulations Poncho and I went through to get back into our home.  But now that we are here, all those issues just seem to wash away.  Because no matter the problems one has with building a home, or remodeling a home, or reclaiming a home, they all are moot once the last piece of furniture is moved in.  At least that is how it is with us.  Once the last three large heavy pieces were moved in, all the stresses and sorrows and hurts just floated away.  We are home.  We are where we are suppose to be.  So, instead of a tirade, I thought I would just show you where “here” is.

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There is still much outdoor work to be done, but this is what it looks like to come home.

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And a view of the living room.

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No matter how hard I try, the kitchen is always a mess.

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And the solace of the bedroom.

Words cannot begin to convey how happy I am to be back in this house.  It speaks to our interests, its warm glow lightens the darkest parts of a Pacific Northwest winter, and the wildlife that can be seen and heard out the windows reminds one that we are all part of a bigger world.

Cheers, from the Columbia River Gorge.

Posted in A View Off The Porch, Creative Non Fiction, Photography, Stream of Consciousness, Writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The El Rey Club

Margaret looked up at the flickering neon sign above her. It flashed “The El Rey Club” in red with white lightbulbs surrounding it. She smiled faintly at the repetition in the name. Even if she was having trouble writing, she could still be an editor.

Deciding this would be a good spot to get out of her head space and hopefully relieve some of her writer’s block, she pushed open the grimy oak door with her forearm. The interior of the bar was as dark if not darker than the nighttime city that bustled outside. Amber colored lights illuminated the bar and the half dozen or so booths at the back. Except for the bartender and three patrons sitting on stools the place was empty. Not much of a club, Margaret thought as she took a seat along the length of planking, keeping a few seats distance from the other customers.

The bartender strolled over after putting a cigarette out in an overflowing ashtray. “What’ll ya have?” he drawled as he wiped the bar with a dingy rag.

Margaret had to think a moment. It had been a long time since she had ventured out on her own and didn’t know how to answer. The barkeep waited patiently, rubbing the same spot with the rag. He was in no hurry. No one here was in any hurry.

“A rye old fashioned,” Margaret finally blurted out, remembering that it had been Howard’s favorite drink.

“Coming up,” the bartender replied. He turned to the bottles and glasses behind the bar and began on the concoction. In short order, he returned and put the old fashion glass with amber liquid in front of Margaret. She pulled some money from her purse, but he was already off doing other tasks.

She took a tentative sip then a larger draught. The sweetness helped alleviate the alcohol burn as the liquid eased down her throat. A warmth began to emanate within her and she took another swallow. She put the glass down and let out a pent-up sigh. It had been so long since she had been out and relaxed, Margaret didn’t realize how much stress she had been carrying. She picked the glass up again and brought it to her lips.

“You’re not a regular here are ya?” The question stopped the glass from reaching Margaret’s lips. She turned to look at the trio at the end of the bar. Two men and a woman. All on the backside of middle age and never seen better days. Margaret smiled and shook her head. The bartender had retuned to the bar and refreshed the regulars’ drinks.

“Come on over and tell us about yourself,” the woman invited. “Don’t mind these two. They don’t bite.”

Margaret looked up to the bartender to try to get a feel for the situation. His gaze met her’s briefly and he gave a short nod.

“Come on deary,” the man furthest from her cackled. “Come drink from the shallows.”

Margaret exhaled a short breath, got up with her drink in hand and joined the trio. The other old man tipped his hat to her. “So, tell us about yourself. We don’t get many new people here, and these two are tired of all my stories.”

The request was simple enough, but it opened a door that was long barred. Margaret regaled her companions with her life story. They sat in rapt attention at her life, her loves and her losses. Even the bartender stopped what he was doing and stood nearby listening.

At the end, the woman drained the contents of her glass and stated, “You ought to put that down in writing. It’d make a helluva book.”

It felt as if she had been hit by a bulldozer. Margaret had never realized that her own life could be inspiration. She downed the remains of her own glass and ordered another. While she didn’t want to lose any time not writing, she also saw that she had found her muses. This time instead of her talking she listened as they each told her their stories and experiences.

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Yikes!  Has it been two months since I’ve written anything?  Well, I do have a pretty good reason, and hopefully I can write it all down to share with everyone.  Anyway, thanks again to Jeremy’s Hello Wednesday Challenge for getting me out of my head space.  It’s a little raw and unpolished, but it is words on paper and I need to get back in the habit of writing again.

Posted in Cocktail, Fiction, Jeremy's Daily Challenge, Writing | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

I Can’t Post Comments

Help me please!  I’ve not been able to post comments today.  In addition, when I tried to post a topic at the forum, when I hit the submit button, my topic immediately said closed for something like 44 years.  Is anyone else having problems?

Posted in Writing | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Chasing Ghosts

Matt stood in front of the gravestone with a bouquet of iris in his hands.  The marker was new, less than one month old.  Yet he could close his eyes and already trace every grey vein in the rose colored granite.  He bent slowly down, his knees pillowed by the wet leaves of the late autumn afternoon.  The receptacle already held a bunch of iris that were barely wilted, but Matt pulled them out and replaced them with the fresh ones he just brought.

Clouds, chasing each other across the sky, cast shadows that fell on the silent flowers.  Matt closed his eyes again, not in prayer, but to concentrate on remembering every feature of Vicki’s face.  The sun warmed his back and he smiled sadly as he remembered how much Vick enjoyed being outdoors.

He felt, more than he saw through his closed eyes, the chill as another cloud came between him and the sun.  When the darkness passed he opened his eyes and he could almost believe that he saw her shadow on the grass.  He dared not turn around and have the spell broken.  Instead, he let his eyelids fall again as he held out his hand to the spectre.  A gust of wind blew through the cemetery, kicking up leaves.  A couple brushed his outstretched hand.  He gasped when he felt the caress.  Then in the trees a whisper came, “I’m here.”

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Okay, I know it’s still the height of summer here, but I couldn’t help writing a little ghost story.  And I couldn’t help using all three prompts (in some fashion).  What feelings or images come to mind when you read these prompts?  As always, thanks to Jeremy’s Challenge Wednesday.

This week’s lines of poetry are:

  • Men on the wet leaves kneeling – Spring Song by Sherwood Anderson
  • Her shadow on the grass – Song by James Joyce
  • Falling on silent flowers – A Light Left On by May Sarton

If you use this prompt please link back

Posted in Fiction, Jeremy's Daily Challenge, Writing | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments