When that little voice inside your head says, go ahead, have another beer, it’s not even eleven, but drink it fast, don’t enjoy it, just get to that point, you know, the one where it doesn’t matter if you’re tired or not, just lay down, fall asleep, tomorrow morning get up, drink two glasses of warm water, but not too fast, take slow, constant swallows, and if there are any tylenol, swallow three, eat something, anything, brush your damn teeth and then get a strong coffee, with three sugars, and a bacon grilled cheese and things will likely be ok.
The three of us lined up in the field, standing in pockets of half-melted snow, the tall grass bowed under our boots. I was in the middle, always, each of them on the edges. I could tell they looked past me at each other, trying not to see me, trying to get closer, but not knowing how, orbiting around me on an elliptical path.
She stood under the afternoon sun, her shadow stretching across the meld with mine, and mine did the same, straight to him. We stood that way, facing the sun, a long black line connecting us, forever.
“Those are between fifty cents and a dollar,” the old woman said before shuffling away to deal with another of the customers at her yard sale.
“So, what do we do, just go rubbing each one?” Raccoon asked.
Owl looked at the rows of dusty lamps, looked at his friend, looked at the people buying old knickknacks, novelty mugs and hand knit sweaters, and walked away from the table.
“Hey, what’s up?” Raccoon asked, pulling at Owl’s arm.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It kinda feels like we’re just doing the same thing over and over and over, doesn’t it?”
Bernie Dubé lay in his narrow bathtub, knees rising out of the water like two pale, knobby icebergs. His head rested on a rolled up towel and he had a wet cloth draped over his eyes as he listened to the faucet drip and echo, smoked a damp hand-rolled cigarette and sipped at a bottle of beer.
Every few minutes he’d hum a tune, some love song from his younger days and remember how a certain girl smelled, or the colour of her eyes, or if she chewed her fingernails or not.
The cherry fell from his cigarette and the small hiss woke him from his daydreams. He pulled the cloth away and saw the man standing bathroom doorway.
“Dubé, mon ostie,” the man said, pulling a gun from his overcoat pocket.
Bernie slipped trying to sit up, sending a wave over the edge of the tub onto the grubby bathroom floor.
“Reste la,” the man said and walked in closer. He looked down at the naked man. “Crisse, t’as pas plus que ça? Tu dois manger comme un affamé, d’abord.”
Bernie laid his wet cloth over his crotch.
“What the hell is going on? What’s the big idea here?”
The man with the gun threw his head back. And then shook his pistol at Bernie.
“Ridicule.” The man said, spitting his words. “T’es effronté en tabarnak me mentir en plein face comme ça. Tu l’sais très bien.”
“Listen, Jacques, I swear I have no idea what you’re talking about. None.”
“Ma femme. Ma jolie Isabelle,” Jacques said and fired three times into Bernie’s chest. The sound was deafening in the small room.
He put the toilet seat down, hiding the four or five yellowed cigarette butts floating, and sat to watch Bernie bleed out. The water turned a murky reddish brown colour, like the river sweeping away all the garbage in the first spring thaw. When the ringing in his ears stopped, Jacques could hear someone was banging at the front door and the faint yowl of police sirens growing closer.
“Ma jolie Isabelle,” he said, softly, before putting the gun against his temple and firing.
Prompts courtesy of Cake.shortandsweet‘s Wednesday Write In.
He handed the conductor his ticket, tucked the now-perforated stub into his breast pocket, pulled his hat down over his eyes and fell asleep before they had even crossed the river into the next county.
When he woke up, someone sat across from him. His eyes started up her legs, but she caught him staring before he could drink the rest of her in. He gave her a dishevelled and apologetic smile that she did not return. And then spent the rest of the trip staring out the window, hoping, with the right kind light, he could see her reflection.
Prompt courtesy of Velvet Verbosity‘s 100 Word Challenge.
The flashing red and blue lights slipped in through the window and left the messy bedroom glowing. Mrs. Harrow woke up clutching her open neckline. Her husband was still asleep, and lay there with his arms wrapped tight around a pillow, a cruel parody of how he used to sleep with her.
Her feet found the tattered slippers, a mother’s day present from years ago, and shuffled to the window. Drawing back the flimsy curtain she saw the police car in the driveway and a what had to be, but oh my no, it couldn’t be, she wouldn’t do that to us, she’s much too sharp for this kind of behaviour, in the backseat.
The knock at the door stripped her delusions away. She put on her house coat, a birthday present, from just last year, made her way across the dark house, turning on lights as she went, and opened the door.
“Mrs. Harrow,” the officer said, making it sound like he knew and it wasn’t a question and he had every right to be waken her up in the middle of the night, no matter if now, she wouldn’t get back to sleep. Mrs. Harrow looked at him and noticed just how mean his eyes were.
“Yes,” she said, clutching her neckline. “What is it?”
He shoved her daughter into the house, as if she disgusted him. Mrs. Harrow instinctively grabbed her daughter and held her tight against her chest. Her nervous fingers running through her child’s matted, tangled auburn hair.
“We found her passed out on the library steps. She should be spending the night in the drunk tank, we even brought her down to the station, and had her halfway booked but the desk sergeant cut her loose and told me to bring her here.”
The officer looked at Mrs. Harrow suspiciously.
“Was it….,” Mrs. Harrow said, hesitant to use his first name. “Sergeant Phillips? I’ll have to call and thank him. She really is a good girl. Thank you for bringing her home, officer?”
Mrs. Harrow waited for him to give his name, but all he did was give her a sick little grin out of the side of his mouth, tip his hat and walked down the concrete steps. He started his car and drive off, much too quickly if you asked her, they were really nothing more than cowboys some of them. She closed the door and walked her daughter to the front room and had her lay down on the chesterfield.
The girl fell asleep right away and Mrs. Harrow spent the hours between then and dawn stroking her face and gently combing her hair and wondering if maybe this time, maybe this time…
prompts courtesy of Cake.shortandsweet‘s Wednesday Write In.
Streaked with dirt, tired, hungry and with throbbing feet, they stood at the bottom of the hill, and looked up at the hermit’s home.
“No smoke,” Owl said.
Raccoon squinted. “He’ll be there.”
They started up the narrow, twisting path. A breeze rolled down the hill and the tall grasses growing over long forgotten vegetable gardens swayed along with it. Receiving no answer to their knock, they pushed the door open. The room was covered in a thick blanket of dust and cobwebs.
A glimmer of light reeled them in. Leaning against the rear wall was an immaculately clean mirror.
He kept talking while she dug in her handbag. Keys, a handful of change, a dog-eared small paperback, two plastic sabres from that night with Evelyn last month, lipstick, crumpled grocery store receipts, one of the dangly earring she thought was lost, a pretty much empty matchbook, but not what she was looking for.
She heard him call her name.
“I’m sorry,” she said, snapping the purse closed and pushing it to the side.
“I almost got lost in there.”
Prompt courtesy of Lillie Mcferrin‘s Five Sentence Fiction.
Dzinski leaned on the fence, smoking, and watched the four men in hip waders stake out a yellow-ribboned square in the gray water. The sun came up over the far pines and a mist rose from the swampy river run-off.
The body was exactly where the anonymous caller said it would be.
Dzinski crushed the cigarette against the wet gravel of the path. Something about the caller’s voice kept gnawing at him, something familiar. The men in the bog lifted the body onto a stretcher and started carrying it to the path. The mud sucked greedily at their boots.