The old stove looked as if Granny would be scurrying back into the kitchen any minute. I could almost hear the teakettle hum. The house should have felt empty, but instead, it was rich with welcoming sights and scents.
I had come to sort and process the remnants of Granny’s life. But as I stood in her kitchen, where life still seemed so warm and real – and where cyberspace seemed like science fiction – I realized those remnants were treasures that could give my wayward life some meaning. So I decided to light up the stove, fill the teakettle, and stay a few years.
I haven’t played “Friday Fictioneers”in a long time, but today when I saw the picture I couldn’t help myself. I take no responsibility for the subject matter. It was the jacket hanging on the end of the banister that did it. Honestly — I couldn’t help it. 🙂 And the weirdest thing is that it came out at exactly 99 words without any editing. Go figure.
It was a unique little operation. Nothing like the “red-light” districts Derek had been used to. No money actually changed hands here. Men who used the service hung their jackets on the end of the stair banister with the fee in the pocket. Once they were ensconced upstairs, Madam Beatrice relieved the jacket of its contents, and replaced it for the client to retrieve when finished. She even included an innocuous receipt for tax purposes: “One House Special – $100.” Derek had a desk drawer full of those receipts, but he couldn’t use them. His wife was his accountant.
“What the heck are they?”
“They look like candle holders to me.”
“Hmmm, I don’t see any candles. Hey this one is open down to the bottom … and so is this one. Maybe they’re fancy vases.”
“Well, they sure wouldn’t hold many flowers. Wonder why Aunt Enid left them to us.”
“Honey, you know Aunt Enid. When she’d had her daily wine quota, she was liable to do almost anything.”
“That’s it! That’s what we’ll use them for.”
“At our next dinner party, we’ll use them as wine glasses.”
“Well, that’s one way to start conversation. Let’s get ’em washed.”
Created by feet of Shoshone buffalo hunters, the trail had eventually become a stage coach road. But today, Hiram Baker plodded it alone – hungry, thirsty, bone-weary. His horse had given out two days ago, and all that kept him going was the love of a blue-eyed woman waiting for him beyond that mountain range. Cecilia had promised to marry him as soon as he was released from prison. Eight years could change a woman’s heart … but he knew Cecilia. Her heart could feel his, and those blue eyes would see him as he crossed over the summit.
He’d done it. He smiled at the perfect job. He’d left her lying across the bed with the pill bottle in her hand. And she hadn’t even suspected that he’d doctored her drink.
She did love to drink, and that had made it so easy. He smiled again as he leaned back in his easy chair savoring his success. Leaving the lone candle burning was an artistic touch. And his fake alibi was so tight, he’d never be suspected.
Now, to call Bernard and report his success. Reaching into his pocket, he froze. Where the hell was his cell phone?
To get involved in this week’s 100-word story challenge, visit Rochelle’s site. This week’s photo is courtesy ofRoger Bultot. My story’s below the photo.
Tonight after play practice, Sheila, Janice, and I drove to Rudy’s Drive-In for burgers and root beers. We’d planned on going inside, but as soon as we drove up, I recognized Jimmy’s car. He was with Roberta!!!
I talked the girls into settling for curb service so that I could scrunch down in the back seat and watch Jimmy’s car. He and Roberta were totally absorbed in each other – laughing, having a great time. When our burgers came, I couldn’t swallow a single bite.
He crossed out the date. Two years now – and only a little crazy. The symptoms had abated, but government doctors weren’t negotiating about his exile.
“Sorry, Nigel,” they’d said at the last visit, looking through the visors of their protective headgear and patting his arm with their sterile gloves. “Lessening symptoms don’t mean anything. The disease won’t die out – until you do. There’s still no cure. Total isolation is still mandatory to avoid spreading. We appreciate your obedience in staying strictly within the circle painted around your camp. The cameras show you’ve been diligent about it.”
He sat now staring at those cameras. He’d rigged them to cover for him, and so far no one suspected a thing.
Sebastian had said, “Follow the alley until it curves right. Stop at the blue door in the wall. Knock four times.”
Okay, here was the turn. Yes … the blue door. Four short raps. She held her breath. … No answer. … She waited. … Still no answer.
Drat the man! Why all this mystery? Couldn’t they just meet at a cafe?
Lying on the floor inside, Sebastian stretched his arm to reach the door handle. But the knife in his back had done its work. He lost consciousness as the girl turned in frustration and left the alley.
I haven’t had much time to write lately, so since the Friday Fictioneers challenge is doing summer reruns this month, I took advantage of the situation. I’m “reruning” the story I originally wrote for this challenge way back in ?????
Photo copyright belongs to Rich Voza. My story is below the picture.
BUT NOT ALWAYS
He was Cherokee, she Scottish-American. But the moment they met in the airport coffee shop, they were connected. Waiting out the fog, they talked like old friends. When her plane was called, he carried her bag to her boarding gate.
A question in her eyes, she said, “Wow, Chicago and Dallas – talk about two people going in opposite directions.”
Light flared in his eyes as he realized she didn’t want this connection to end either. He traced one gentle finger down her cheek.
“Opposite today,” he said, “but not always, I think.”
A spark in her eyes leaped to his, just as the boarding line began moving, and he promised: “I will see you again, Joy.”
Hurray, I’m doing the Friday Fictioneers challenge this week. Just can’t seem to get it in every week, but I do like to take part when I can. If you’d like to join in and write a 100-word story based on this picture — by Marie Gayle Stratford — just follow the link to Rochelle’s place for the easy instructions.
Trying to look casual, he wiggled across the desk. Sherry, his owner, was on break. This was his only chance if he were ever going to connect with that hot pink number over on Wally’s desk. Wow, she was something else!
He was looking cool in his blue striped suit; she’d be impressed.
Whew! This was hard work, but he was almost to the edge. Then came the dangerous part, but, hey, a mouse had to do what a mouse had to do. Love was worth the risk.
“Okay … at the edge. Now, one big jump, and …”
“Hey, Sherry, your mouse just fell in the floor and broke into a dozen pieces!”
This week’s Friday Fictioneers photo just pulled the following story right out of me. Had no idea it was in there, but that’s half the fun of writing, isn’t it? Photo is courtesy of Madison Woods. My story is below the picture.
“Margo, you’ve been staring at that spigot for twenty minutes.”
“What?” Margo suddenly looked at Jane.
“Why are you just staring at that spigot?”
“I was … uh … I was remembering ….”
“You know … the prison camp.”
“We were each allowed only one small cup a day.”
“You were never in a prison camp!”
“I’ve known you all your seventeen years. You’ve never been in prison.”
“The Nazis ….”
“That was your great-great-great grandmother. You never even met her.”
Margo turned questioning eyes back to the spigot. “But I remember … being so desperately thirsty … and how slowly the water ran out ….”
As Cody sat on the cracked seat at the back of the bus, jostled by the jerky movement of the nearly worn-out vehicle, he couldn’t get her off his mind. He kept seeing her smile, hearing her throaty laugh at his flimsy excuse for jokes. He could still feel the softness of her fragrant hair and feel the warmth of her in his arms.
But mostly he could see the hurt in her eyes – the confusion and – yes – he was sure it had been fear. He shook his head now at those memories. He shouldn’t have taken off like that. He shouldn’t have given up so easily – shouldn’t have left her in the clutches of that family of vipers!
He’d known what their attitude would be towards him. He’d grown up in the gypsy caravans – no confirmed lineage as far as a father was concerned – and the best he’d been able to do for work was traveling tool salesman for the local company. He knew as well as her relatives that he didn’t deserve someone like her. Of course he didn’t. But then who did deserve someone as wonderful as Tess?
Besides, deserving didn’t have anything to do with it. It was love that mattered, and there wasn’t another man alive who could love Tess Montague better than he did!
But she had to make the choice. He couldn’t choose for her. And she had lived almost 30 years doing exactly what Mom and Daddy – and Granddad – told her to do. They held the purse strings, but that wasn’t what put the pressure on Tess. He knew that. No – it was the emotional stranglehold they had on her. That guilt trip they always laid on her any time she wanted to be independent in any way at all. He shook his head again. He knew she wasn’t strong enough to get free from them by herself. Why had he given up?
Well, for one thing, she had held back when he asked her point blank if she loved him. He’d confessed his love for her repeatedly for weeks, but she’d never say it back to him. She looked at him with love in her eyes. And goodness knows, the woman kissed him like she couldn’t get enough of him! But she wouldn’t say the words. And it would take words to make her his wife. It would take words to tell that lordly Brewster Harrison, Jr. that she wasn’t going to have him as her husband, regardless of Granddad’s threat to disinherit her if she didn’t marry Brewster.
But if he had stayed a little longer …. He couldn’t help but wonder if it would have made any difference.
He shifted his position sideways and stretched out his legs since the other half of the seat was empty. He sighed and leaned back thinking that his staying wouldn’t have helped. Tess just didn’t have the strength to choose him over all the rest. As the last thought weighed him down in spirit, he glanced to his left to look outside the rear window of the bus.
What the …! What was he seeing? He blinked … rubbed his eyes … strained to look again.
Was it …? Could it be possible …? Running after this bus for all she was worth …?
By golly … the woman did have the guts to do it!
He jumped up and stalked down the narrow aisle of the bus to the drivers seat. “Hey, buddy, I gotta get off!” The driver glanced in the rear-view mirror to get a look at him. “I gotta git off NOW!”
“I can’t make a stop out here in the middle of the road, mister!”
“You got to. The woman I love is runnin’ down the road after us, and I gotta go to her!” As he spoke the last words, he was already standing on the steps with his hand on the automatic door. “If you won’t stop, I’ll force these doors open and jump!”
The driver spared him a disgusted glance and saw more determination than he could fight against, so he put on his flashers and pulled over to the shoulder, shocking the other passengers into voicing their irritation. “You better get off quick, ’cause I can’t sit here!” he ordered.
Cody punched the air with a “thumbs-up” sign, and the second the door opened he and his suitcase were on the ground. A quick salute to the driver was all he managed before the bulky vehicle lumbered away, with all gears grinding and a thick cloud of exhaust fumes burning Cody’s nostrils.
But he didn’t really notice. Because as soon as the cloud of exhaust cleared enough for him to see through the haze, Tess was all that filled his mind. She had run until she had collapsed to her knees, and she obviously had no breath left to speak. But she was beautiful. And her eyes told him everything he needed to know.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like the companion story — Tess’ side of the story — which I wrote for the Friday Fictioneers challenge this week. Here’s the link to the story from Tess perspective: “Racing for a Second Chance”
This week’s prompt is a photo from Lora Mitchell. My story is below.
Exiting the board room at 6:03, she rushed to her office. The light out, she walked to her window, now gently bathed in a light shower. Aaaahhhh! Tension instantly drained away as she feasted on her favorite view — her city — alive, gorgeous, teeming with energy and renewal. It was in her heartbeat.
Brent couldn’t comprehend. Always a country boy, he insisted Kate could be happy in his world. Since his proposal, a new plant arrived daily — pressing her. Today’s lily blocked her view. Tossing it into the receptacle, she leaned against the window — happy.
Odd … the fence so freshly painted. The barn still bore silent scars from enemy troops scouring the countryside of its rightful owners and leaving all to ruin. A few lucky farmers had fled, losing all they’d worked for.
But before … before death and destruction … she and Johann had walked the length of this fence daily … stopping for kisses … planning: marriage, children, living beside this fence.
The night of the soldiers Johann had forced her to run while he covered her, and she’d seen them capture him.
20 years gone and she’d come back to remember. If only Johann were ….