“She doesn’t bark. The dog grandpop made for me. She doesn’t bark.”
“Bradford. You’re twelve-years-old. The dog Grandpop Rossi made for you is a classic. It is a hand pull-toy crafted from imported Ceylon ebony and Ponderosa pine. It is a collector’s toy.”
“I know that. But I wanted a dog that barks. One that I can go to the park and throw Frisbees with and he’ll bring them back.”
“Well, we don’t always get exactly what we want.”
“But Grandpop is always telling me stories of him and Papa when Papa was just a boy. Every night he would tell these remarkable stories of trips through the Great Forest to find just the right piece of wood. And all about how he carefully carved each of Papa’s parts. How he lovingly whittled and sanded and whittled and sanded until every piece fit just right.”
“I know the stories.”
“The stories must be true. Papa said that they were true.”
“Papa wouldn’t lie to you. But what else did Papa say?”
“Without love, unabashed love, it never would have happened.”
“Well, there you have your answer.”
“I just have to love Piddle’s, that’s his name, I just have to love Piddle’s until he is real?”
“We’ve been together since Kindergarten,” he said. “I know we’ve had our ups-and –downs… Every couple does. But through thick-and-thin you’ve always stood-by-your-man.”
“Clichés upon clichés. I know you’re a songwriter and that’s in your nature. But that’s all we’ve become,” I responded. “I used to believe sincerely that opposites-do-attract. We had that going for us.”
“We still do,” he pleaded.
“Well, we are opposites that don’t!. I’m a one-woman-man. I will not be disrespected by your lady-in-every-port perception of a grand-old-time. Once-a-cheater-Always a cheater.”
“”I’ll change.” He was on his knees, begging.
“Then you can go and work on changing and leave me alone. Momma always said, ‘Sweetheart-there-are-plenty-of-fish-in-the-sea. Why do you have to stick with the first one you caught?”
“But what about ‘Love-conquers-all’?”
He was persistent. I’ll give him that. I suspect that’s one of the things I’d always found so attractive about him. That, and he was a hunk! “No.” I handed him back the ring. “I will not marry you. I want you to leave. Now.”
“No! They say that ‘Love is blind.’ I have been blind for far too long. Your life’s pursuit of love-the-one-you’re-with’ will not cut it.”
I tried to pull my foot from him to leave …. He was prostrate grasping it. “I love you. I always come back to you. You know I do. Those other girls… They mean nothing to me. It’s my image. My public persona. Why? Why won’t you marry me? ”
Here, I could finally end it. I thought of my final reply:
I wouldn’t marry you if ka-zillionaire and you purchased Hawaii for me as our wedding gift.
I wouldn’t marry you if built like Dwayne John, the Rock, and … That won’t work. He’s handsomer than Dwayne.
I wouldn’t marry you if I were being held hostage and our spoken vows would save the world.
Which one should I pick?
Written for Sunday Afternoon Writings: A Zoom Writing Group. Requirements: Complete this story-Starter.
Carefully detaching the fleshy fragments from the canvas with tiny tweezers, the lead forensic specialist placed each ‘piece of evidence’ in the properly corresponding baggy. Then each bag was secured, taped and labeled. The labels matched the picture she had previously taken with her iPad.
As she worked she explained the splatter remains.
“Likely we’re looking at a .38 caliber. You can see where the victim’s head shielded much of this lower area in the painting.”
“Didn’t you retrieve the bullet?”
“We did. But the prospects of a comparison’s not good. The projectile passed through the frontal and the parietal of the victim’s skull before lodging in the wall behind the painting. It’s fatally distorted.”
“So no luck there.”
“Lieutenant, they is no need for an identification of the projectile. We have the gun.”
“No,” replied the lieutenant. “You have ‘a gun’. Unless we can link this gun to the bullet, the defense attorney will have a heyday on cross. There’s no good reason to have left the weapon that was used in the commission of this murder at the scene. Everything else has been too well thought out. This particular gun is a ‘red herring’. I’d bet my badge on it.”
“Lieutenant,” an officer reports in. “We have a suspect, sir. He was hiding in the crawlspace. We also found vinyl gloves with powder residue still on them.”
“Well,” smiled the Lieutenant. “Looks like he planned the perfect murder- red herring and all. But he forgot about the getaway.”
Written for (This was to be for a 100 word prompt but I misread and got two different prompt’s requirements confused.) Me.
“You gonna stand there watching me or you gonna say something?” the executioner continued to hone the edges of the sword.
“Do you know what the King has decided?” I asked.
“He is the King. I do not question his wisdom.”
“He is executing an innocent. Maybe even a child,” I continued.
“The king would never execute an innocent.”
“The entire village will be there,” I said.
“Of course they will. All of the King’s executions are in public.”
“You don’t understand.” I said. “I am to remove alphabet letters from King’s purse. After each letter, those villagers with that surname are moved to the back of the commons awaiting me to draw the next letter.”
“Why the letters?” the executioner’s curiosity was finally piqued.
“This village has given comfort and shelter to the bandits. They see them as Germany’s version of Robin Hoods. The King has decided that the village has offended him- the village should pay the price.”
“I see,” responded the executioner.
“Do you?” I asked. “After the first letter is drawn, I will continue to remove villagers according to their surnames until it is just one family remaining. Then I will draw letters for their forenames.”
“Makes sense to me,” responded the executioner.
“The last person remaining will be the person you execute.”
“I understand that.”
“Have you ever been called upon to execute a four-year-old child?” I said.
“Never. The King would show mercy,” replied the executioner.
“There will be no mercy. I am here to hold ransom your son. Should you fail to execute the King’s commands, your son will take the villagers’ stead.”
The executioner stroked one last stroke on the sharpened blade. “It seems the King has thought on everything.” Putting on his hood, he slowly walked toward the scaffolding.
Written for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: 2020: Week #46,
Curled armadillo-like in the corner of the octagon, my lifted arms were tightly wrapped around my head.
The Ragin’ Cajun had swept me from my feet after repeatedly pummeling my left calf.
I only had moments to turn this match back into some semblance of equal standing or the referee would call it.
Slowing spinning to my right, I used my leverage from the wall of the cage to allow myself to become up upright.
The crowd was in a frenzy. The Cajun was a favorite in Atlanta. It didn’t matter that the entirety of the stadium was against me; my body responded to the jeers as easily as the cheers.
Once on my feet, my arms could again block the continuous jabs and uppercuts that were assaulting me.
He was smiling.
He thought he had my number.
I knew if I waited long enough, he would try to clock me with his signature move. I had watched every match this clown had posted on YouTube. This cocky imbecile had his own channel. And in the studying, I had found his ‘tick’.
Just before he would do his patented spin-kick butterfly to down his opponent, he would always glance to his corner.
If I could wait, his eyes would turn to acknowledge his upcoming triumph, I only had to hold on.
Exhausted on my feet, I decided to encourage his victory. I lowered my hands, just a little, and allowed the Cajun to fully connect a fierce jab to my solar plexus.
I doubled over. It looked as if I had been crippled. I seemed to be gasping for air.
The deception worked.
The Cajun instantly turned and smiled to his corner.
From my hip, I threw all my weight for a right-handed uppercut straight to his left jaw.
The Cajun went down.
I stepped back.
The referee looked at me.
I just motioned for him to begin his count.
This had been written as a prompt for The Fabulous Free Versers Club @ FanStory. Then I realized, this was far more a flash story than free verse.
“I thought you’d like it.” Grandpa was smiling. “But the surprises aren’t over yet.”
Sarah was already running passed the “Careful. Slippery When Wet.” signs the get to the new boat. Grandpa and her brother had been working on it during the winter as their ‘togetherness project’. She was surprised when Fredrick told her that the maiden voyage of the craft was supposed to be just her and Grandpa, but it was a good surprise. Sara loved to waters. To spend a day with Grandpa was always a plus.
Sara was barely able to contain her bubbliness and stay on the dock as she waited for her grandfather to catch up.
Grandpa stood beside her as they silently marveled at the magnificent work that he had Fredrick had completed.
“Well,” Grandpa looked had her. “Ready for the unveiling?”
“Sure. Every worthy craft has to have a name fitting for it majesty. Fredrick and I decided on the name for this one’s christening. We thought you should have the honor of revealing it.” Suddenly, as if from the shadows appeared Fredrick and Sara’s mother and father.
Father was carrying a small basket. “Wait. Before this solemn evert occurs, we need to have our toasts ready.” He went to one knee and opened the basket. Swiftly handing out glasses to each of them, he handed a bottle of OceanSpray Cranberry-Grape to Fredrick. “Prepare us, please. Sir Fredrick.”
Fredrick’s smile was ear-to-ear. He twisted the top off of the chilled OceanSpray and filled each of their plastic goblets.
“To Grandfather and Fredrick,” Father toasted. They all took one small sip. There were to be more toasts.
“To the ‘Togetherness Project’,” Mother was quickly following in line.
“To a family a man can be proud of,” was Grandfather’s toast.
Before Sara could say anything, Fredrick busted through. “And now, the time we have all been awaiting. Sara, would you removed the silk covering draped across the bow of our magnificent vessel.”
As Sara stepped onboard the craft to remove the silk cloth masking the port of the vessel, Fredrick boldly announced, “To the Sara Anne.”
There was much hugging and handshaking as Sara stood stunned at this turn of events. Then, ever true to Sara, she let out a squeal of joy that would have awakened dead sailors.
“Now, let’s give’er a spin.” Grandpa loaded the poles and boxes he had been carrying onboard joining Sara.
“See you for supper,” father said as he handed Grandpa the basket that the family had brought.
“Start her up, Sara,” said grandfather. “The fish are awaiting us.”
“We’re going to spend our day fishing?” Sara was taken back and just a bit pale.
“Sure, lassie. That’s Fredrick’s and my favorite pastime on the waters.”
“Grandpa, I’m not Fredrick.” Sara tried to be very polite as she was suddenly filled with incredible hurt.
“Oh. That’s right. You’re with me today.” Grandpa was smiling. “That must be why your family gave us this extra basket. Go ahead. Open it.”
Sara lifted the lid from the basket and found sandwiches, chips, and several chilled waters. “Look under the linen napkins,” said Grandpa.
Sara lifted the napkins and there were two large pieces of red-velvet cake.
“Grandpa!” Sara giggled as she reached starboard to give him a hug.
“Let’s wait ‘til we get to my favorite fishin’ hole.” smiled Grandpa. “Today, dearie, we just feed the fishies.”
“It has to be. The old man said follow the river. There’s not a lot of ways to mess that up.”
‘I don’t know but from what I’ve read in most books, they talk about ‘There’s gold in them there hills.’ and we’re going down from the hills and not up into the mountains Just sayin’”
“I know.” I replied a little spitefully. “You’re the one with the brains. We’re just like pack mules to you.”
“That’s not what I mean at all. I’m just wondering if maybe that old codger was pullin’ a fast one on us.”
“You just don’t trust people. Why would he do that?”
“First- The $25 each we gave him for his mining rights. He just happened to have the deed in his wallet. Second- If there is gold, as much as he implied there was, then why isn’t he havin’ his grandsons go on this grand adventure?”
Just then, there here was a shout up ahead from the lead hiker. “Look! There’s a town just around the bend.”
As we approached the town, there was a freshly painted ‘Welcome’ sign for all to see. Behind the sign, three small one-room cabins.
I started laughing.
“Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Even if there is no gold here… and the old man did swindle us … At least we have great places to sleep for the night.
Standing in front of me, with me clutching my bathrobe slightly more tightly than needed around myself, was a slender, pleasant-faced officer holding a sausage-linked, lackadaisical dog on a stout leather chain. As soon as Yowzer saw me, he started yodeling.
“Shush, Yowzer,” I said immediately, kneeling to give my roommate immediate affection- digging a little extra under his tags and collar. I was hoping to assist in silencing him before his yodels awakened the entire neighborhood. “Yes, officer.” I stood back up. “I had not noticed he was missing. As you can see, I am just getting up. I usually take Yowzer for a morning walk … but not this early.”
“Well, ma’am,” the officer was smiling at my discomfort, I hope as a way to make me feel a little more comfortable. “This morning it looks like Yowzer had the ‘up-and-at-ems’ before you were ready to start the morning.” He paused. “We received a disturbance call about four a.m. this morning. When we arrived, we were surprised the disturbance was being caused by this small dog. We found him howling and a jumping at the dumpster behind McCrainy’s Butcher Shop. We found you by the address on his tags.”
“McCrainy’s,” I said. “We often stop by there on the way home from the park. Mr. McCrainy finds a bone or meat scraping for Yowzer on our visits.”
“How well did you know Mr. McCrainy, ma’am?” Immediately, I noticed the past-tense turning of our conversation. The officer blushed. I suspect that he had just realized he had revealed more information in his question than he had first desired. “Is everything O.K. with Mr. McCrainy?” I asked.
“I’m sorry ma’am. I should have been more careful with the wording of my question.”
“How is Mr. McCrainy?” I asked again.
“He is deceased. Ma’am.” The officer hung his head and ceased making eye contact with me. “We found him … or rather, Yowzer found him lying behind the dumpster behind his establishment.”
“Oh, my.” I knelt once again a stroked around Yowser’s collar. A sight like that should not have to be seen by man or beast.
“May I come in?” the officer handed me the leash holding Yowzer. “There are some questions I hope you can assist us with in our inquiry.”
And with that, Yowzer and I lead Officer Stanford into the back kitchen, clicked on the percolator for a warm cup of coffee to ease the tension, and I began to hear the sordid details that Yowzer had discovered.
The local officer the doorman had called sat patiently with me as I dried my eyes and held Snickers.
It had been three hours since I had awakened and took Snickers, my four-year-old Australian terrier, for his morning liberties. Dad and I switched off weeks for Snickers routine. Dad worked the night shift at Belleview Metropolitan. He was the head of trauma center.
Snickers was mine. Dad and I had wrangled and wrangled for months before I was able to convince him to let me get Snickers. (Being in my thrid-year at Cornell, I thought I deserved my first pet.) He had finally agreed to Snickers after I had promised I would take the main responsibilities for the dog.
Snickers nuzzled his collar under my hand again for attention. I scratched him under his neck. You could hear his safety tags and the silver key clink when I stopped. Snickers let out a small yelp. “Shhh… “ I whispered. Snickers was anxious for my morning breakfast. So was I.
Picking up another post-it, I wrote…
Me again. Wake up.
Daddy, I’ve locked myself out.
Pop, open the door.
I aligned it beside the other eleven notes. “I’m sure this one will stir him.” I smiled at the officer sitting across from me. “You have so kind to sit and wait with me.”
“Ma’am, do you lock yourself out often?” the officer asked.
Embarrassed, I set my eyes to the floor. “Truthfully, it happens more frequently than I care to admit. Even in high school I was a little absent-minded. Dad thinks I’m rather scatter-brained, but I had thought we had worked out a fool-proof system. Dad placed these Post-its and the pencil cup by our doorway so anytime I have need to tell him something, all I have to do is jot a note to him before I forget it. He is real good at seeing it every afternoon when he awakens. We have the same correspondence system right by the refrigerator.”
“Has that helped?” the officer smiled as he asked.
“It sure has.” I was proud of the progress I had made in keeping my life in order.
“Couldn’t you two have found a way to assist with an extra set of keys for the door?”
“Oh, Dad did,” I said. “He wired an extra house key right to Snickers’ collar just in case I ever locked myself out again.” Snickers let out another small yelp as he pressed my hand to his neck.
The officer rubbed Snickers under his collar. “You’ve got a smart dog here with you, Miss.” I heard Snickers’ safety accessories tinkle again. “I’m sure this will work out.” The officer patted me on my head as he rose. “My shift is over in fifteen. I’ll send another officer around to check on you soon.”
FYI: This is a haibun. A haibun is when a writer combines proses and haiku to tell a story.
Written for P.A.D. Poem-a-Day: Writer’s Digest … Day 18: For today’s prompt, write a message poem. You can decide the medium: Message in a bottle, postcard, or voice mail. Of course, there are text messages, telegrams, and letters. My wife loves to leave me messages on Post-It notes (and I love to find them). So write a message in a poem today!