Category Archives: Carry On Tuesday

Two Men and a Lady

Saturday Scribes: Theme – Complicated

Carry on Tuesday

Three Word Wednesday errant hanker murky
Sunday Scribbling : interview

It was almost too easy.  Sean had typed up his notes on the interview and now he had a hankering for one of Joe’s pulled pork sandwiches.  He went to the coffee pot and stared at the murky dregs.  This pot had been made hours ago and looked like it. He dumped it in the sink and got a fresh filter and filled it.  He wiped up some grounds that had spilled onto the counter.  He thought about the conversation he had last night with her.  She would certainly be hired once his report was turned in.  The moment he pushed send on the email with that report attached, he would be committed.  They had been dating for a few months and he looked back in wonder.  Meeting her was  an accident.  Pursuing a relationship was done with purpose, in fact, with a vengeance.  Now he had to think about the future.  Could the relationship survive working together?  Danielle had promised that her support would move him up and that she would be right there helping him. He was already working on a plan for her “departure” if she didn’t follow through.

Danielle stopped in the ladies room before her next appointment.  She knew that Sean was in the office below making his little plans, but she had a few of her own.  She touched up her make-up and pushed an errant strand of hair back.  She smoothed out her skirt and took one last backwards glance in the mirror.  Smiling in satisfaction, she followed the hall to the corner office where the head of purchasing worked.  She smiled at his secretary and gave her name.  As she stepped through the door and quietly closed it behind her, Sean’s boss stepped from around the desk and took her hands.  She kissed him and smiled.  “You should be getting the report on my interview any time now.”  George was in his seventies and the last stroke had caused him to limp a little.  He smiled back at her.  She was covering all her bases.  It would be tricky balancing the two of them but George never left his floor and Sean could be handled.

George knew that any reason a woman like Danielle would be interested in him would not be his good looks and charm.  He had passed that stage long ago.  Whatever the reason was, she had a few talents and he intended to take advantage of those.  He read the message behind those carefully made up eyes.  She had her own agenda and thought she held all the cards.  He knew she was stringing along that idiot downstairs. He figured she was planning to play them against each other.  What he lacked in stamina, he made up for in experience.  He knew directions to take this game that were not even on her map.

The Long Walk

Three Word Wednesday : karma, obey, wither and two days of one word: amber and shield with a little fiction in 58 thrown in with just a pinch of Carry On Tuesday.

He carried her for two miles.  She weighed next to nothing. She was his Amber and now she was gone.  He tried it the worlds’ way. He obeyed every rule he knew.  He did nothing to have karma spit on him  but here he was, with nothing to shield his heart that would wither and die without notice.

One Word Can’t Cut It

One Word: Scissors, Three Word Wednesday: incubate nightmare vanity and a little bit of Carry On Tuesday.  Mixing all the flavors tonight.  A little Halloween something…

there was just enough light to see the glint, the shine, the oh my God they are sharp.  I tried to shrink back into the corner but I think she heard me breathing.  Nowhere left to go.

It started with a stupid idea. Just a drunken conversation one night and it had been sitting there, in the back of his mind incubating.  Now here he was in the middle of a nightmare.  It was nothing but vanity to think that she really liked him.  She was way out of his league and he knew it all along.

He knew he should have left before it got dark.  The stories always say they come out at night.  Always.  Just like the silly girl that hears the noise in the basement and goes to check.  You just know it’s a bad idea.  So why was he here?

It doesn’t matter why.  He thought it was the scissors that would get him but that wasn’t all that was gleaming in the dark.  Cold hands reached from behind to cover his eyes.  That silky voice, crooning now “Guess who.”

He stiffened.  He could try to run but where would he go?

Anger

Sunday Scribbling #180, Carry On Tuesday #17, Three Word Wednesday, One Word: Corner

Piled them up and this is what I sifted out, with a little inspiration from posts by Quin and Paschal.

Disarmed by
the sudden guilt
anger dissolved
this time
just now, this minute
don’t speak
but later
no grace, no forgive, give
me mayhem mr. sandman
ain’t no sleeping tonight
voices engage
the shots fire over heads and
sometimes
hit the mark
hit the heart
play a  tattoo
beating on, beating up
beaten down
the poets rhymed it
the storytellers made it
their own
we all live it
danger, falling bricks, rocks
stones and sticks
and names can hurt, can paint
themselves on our skin
til only a faded shadow scar
barely seen
but heard round the corner
round the life

Let It Ring

Carry On Tuesday prompt from City of Glass by Paul Auster and One Word Constant

It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night.  I was awake and while I tried, I could not go back to sleep.  Five minutes ago I was snoozing away, blissfully unaware of the noises coming from the neighbor’s garage.  Now those constant noises were all I could think of, hear.  They pound and bang right through the walls, the feathers, the blankets.  What is he DOING?  I got up and walk the familiar path to the kitchen in the dark.  Water from the faucet and peer out the window, trying to catch a glimpse of, nothing to see but the dirty yellow of his window with the naked bulb letting light but little else through the stained and bug splattered window.

Where is his wife and kids?  It had been a few days since I last saw them.  How can they sleep?  She was a quiet, big-eyed little thing and the two little boys with spindly legs and clothes that didn’t fit.  I felt sorry for them.  We spoke occasionally, chance meeting at the curb, dropping off trash.  We met at the mailbox the other day and she looked sadder than usual.  He had lost his job, she said.  Budget cuts come home to roost, no bacon coming home with this one for awhile.

He was a big guy with one eyebrow that always seemed about to land on his nose that looked like it might have been broken more than once.  He stepped out of the house and she clamped her mouth shut and walked away, but not before I saw the fear that made her eyes even bigger for just a moment, then she was gone, me standing there with my mouth open.

Now he was banging and hammering and it was three in the morning.  “Sorry you lost your job mister but some of us still have to work in the morning!”  I thought as I stepped out onto the porch, hugging my arms around myself because of the damp chill.  Should I go look? I was barefoot but I knew there was nothing but grass between me and the window.  Maybe I could just knock and explain that the sound was carrying.  He would apologize and stop for the night and we could all go back to sleep, thank you very much.

I quietly stepped off the porch, onto the wet grass and made my way to the garage.  I was watching the ground to try to avoid stepping on something sharp when a shadow seemed to pass before me.  I looked up and his face was in the window.  He was holding a large hammer and his stare, at first annoyed turned into a grin.  Not your friendly hello there, lets have coffee grin.  No this was your turn and run you idiot kind of smile but my feet were locked into place and my knees while shaking, were not planning on walking anytime soon.  Only my mind took in the details of the tableau behind him and screamed silent, as terror took my voice.  At least I knew where his family was.

This Is What It’s Like

Carry on Tuesday #12

Our prompt this week is the opening sentence from The Open Door by Elizabeth Maguire

suzirosenberg

The story is in
the journey,
not the destination

left foot
right foot
breathe in between
this is what it’s like

sometimes all you can do
is all you can do
the universe moves on
while all you can do
sometimes is all you can do

this is what it’s like
breathe in between
right foot
left foot

The life is in
the journey,
not the destination

The Quest

I’m having a twitchy, can’t think of anything, don’t like it if I do week.  This is for a pile of prompts including One Word Shallow, Sunday Scribbling, Where in the world, Carry On Tuesday, and Three Word Wednesday.

Every inch of the back wall in the little room was tiled.  Thousands upon thousands of little bits of multicolored pieces of glass and pottery.  A mountain of rainbow chaos where someone had reached in, swirled their hand about, and caused a fantasy of ethereal beauty.  There was no way this was done by human, it had to be fae and even so over a long period of time.  There was power in it and a history before time was counted.  How I had even managed to get to this room had to be accidental and now that I was here I wanted to back away before they became aware that I had seen it.  It would not be something they would want me to know about.  I wanted to back away, but couldn’t.  The magic in the color held me spellbound and I felt as though I were falling into it.

A jerk on my arm brought me back to my senses.  I shook my head and turned to see Fin pulling me backwards shading his eyes.. “Come on Nissa, don’t look!”  I pulled my self away with no small effort, back into the darkness outside the doorway.  “What was that?” I asked Fin.

“I don’t know but as soon as you stepped inside I could almost feel a hum in the air.  Made the hair on the back of my neck stand up!  There is strong magic in there.”  He said.

The picture was still in my mind though many details were missing. I could still feel it’s powerful hold, though it weakened when out of view. It was too much to take in all at once.  The flowers were colors not seen in nature and words were swirled through the design “Love is a flower that grows in color” in purple and gold.   When I stepped inside it seemed at though lights bounced from a place far above and reflected the mosaic in a shallow pool in front of the wall. Even now I was drawn to it.

“Nissa, you have to control yourself.”  Fin said.

“Don’t patronize me.  I’m in control and you know it.  I feel the pull but I know it’s the magic.”  I pulled away from him, rubbing my arm where he had gripped it.  He was tall and wiry with dark red hair and he forgot how strong he was sometimes.  I was glad in this instance but I’m damned if I would let him know.  He grinned at me as if he read my mind which he nearly could.  “Lets find a safer place to sit and see if we can figure out where this is on the map.”

Some of the corridors in the caverns were in complete darkness and others were dimly lit from skylights.  There was a main room off to the left that we had traveled through to get here that contained illuminats left by mages.  Illuminats were spelled rocks that held light from the sun for years.  At least I hoped it was years. I had no desire to run into a mage.  We sat down on a rock and Fin pulled the map out of his pack.  “That room doesn’t show up anywhere on the map!” He said.

“Well then where in the world were we?”

“I don’t know” Fin said, “But it must be important to have so much magic.  The Fae have protected it so well that it doesn’t show up on the map.  I bet if anyone has found it before, their bones are in that pool at the base.”

“That’s it!”  The artifact is in that pool!” I was sure that was the answer.  We had been searching for so long.  “Now we just have to figure out how to get to it!”

“Is that all?  Nissa, if we go back in that room we might never leave it!”  Fin said.

“You know  the Fae like riddles and puzzles!  We just have to unravel this.  Simon sent us on this quest for a reason.  Think back to his exact words.  Maybe there was a clue in them somewhere.” I told him.

“He said for us to stick together no matter what.” Fin remembered.  “and to not be afraid of darkness, it is just a mirror of the light, then there was something else.”

“Something about using what we have to get what we need. So lets take stock.  We have rope in your pack.  What if we tie it outside the door to anchor us.  We can tear blindfolds. If we can’t see the mosaic it won’t have as much power.”  I said.

“It’s got to work.  It fits.  You hold me and I will go to the pool.”

“Fin, I’ve already been close to the wall – you haven’t been under it’s spell and besides, you are stronger.  I will need you to pull me out.”  I knew he was going to argue but he also would have to admit that my way made the most sense.

We tore strips of cloth for blindfolds and some more to bind our wrists together in case I tried to let go.  Fin tied one end of the rope to an outcropping of stone outside the door.  He wound some of it around his waist, giving himself slack.  We tied the blindfolds on, leaving them down til we were ready.  Fin tied his wrist to mine and I felt a tingle of fear.  What if I ended up nothing but bones at the bottom of the pool?  Simon wouldn’t have sent us here if it wasn’t important.  Whatever was at the bottom of that pool could help everyone in our valley so we would get it for Simon!

Fin grinned at me, fearless. “Ready?”

I smiled back at him. “Let’s go.”

We pulled the blindfolds down and entered the doorway.  We moved slowly with our eyes covered.  I tried to remember what the floor of this cavern room was like but I had been so mesmerized by the tiled wall that I didn’t pay it any attention.

“Are you okay Nissa?”  Fin called to me.

“I’m fine.  Just easing forward.  There is something on the ground here. I’m going to pick it up.”

I reached down and picked up a piece of glass about the size of my hand.  “ouch!”  I cried. I had cut my hand.  “It’s okay Fin, I just cut myself a little on a piece of glass.”  I moved forward some more.  My toe edged ahead and felt the beginning of the pool.  “I’m going to wade in slowly.” I told Fin.

“Just take it easy, I’ve got you.” He said.  “Just go slow!”

I was a little nervous walking in to the water.  What if there was a trap or a deep hole?  I just had to trust that Fin would get me out.  “I don’t feel anything, Fin.  I’ve gone all the way across and there’s nothing!”  Now what?  We had to be right.  Maybe we were doing things wrong.

“I’m going to take off the blindfold, Fin.” I told him.  I was already pulling it down, I knew he would say no but I couldn’t stand coming this far and then leaving and maybe what we needed was right there – I just couldn’t see it.

Fin was yelling at me to leave it on.  “It’s already off Fin – just make sure that you get me out of here!”  I felt his grip on my wrist binding tighten as he braced and I felt my eyes being pulled to the wall.  Instead I looked at the piece of glass in my hand.  It was a piece of mirror and now there was blood all over it from my cut.  Without thinking, I bent to wash it and as I got close to the surface of the water, the mirror picked up the light from the opening somewhere above and was bent and flashing from a million tiny tile surfaces reflecting the light from the mirror.  It lit up the pool and I could see something at the bottom.  It was a stone but not like any I had ever seen.  I picked it up and Fin started yelling.  “I’m all right!”  I said. “I’ve found something and as long as I only look at the wall’s reflection it has no power.  As I picked up the stone, a drop of blood from my cut fell on it and it began to glow and pulse.  I nearly dropped it.  I was warm as though alive.  “Hurry Fin!  Let’s go.  We’ve got to get back to Simon!”

Outside the room we removed rope and blindfolds and wrapped the stone and put it inside Fin’s pack.  We stared at each other for a moment and then headed back the way we came, map in hand.  Simon would be waiting for us.  As we crossed the great room, the room we had just left, lit up as daylight and then the door disappeared as though it had never been.

Two coins

Sunday Scribbling prompt: plans, Carry On Tuesday #10, and One Word: Coins

Fixed some glaring typos thanks to hubby editing.  Apologies to all.

The Day

She had taken the clothes to Goodwill,  the furniture was sold, what little anyone would have.  The flowered upholstery on the old rocker he sat in everyday was worn clean through and the footstool had been nailed back together so many times it was more nails than wood. His side table was covered with cigarette scars and water marks from his beer bottles. She had pulled the old drapes down and threw them in the trash.  They were so full of dry rot that they came down in pieces with her coughing and sneezing. He had gotten so mean the last years, no one would come over to the house and he stopped caring what anything looked like, or smelled like for that matter.  Most of what was left when he passed was hauled off to the dump and the house would be sold for taxes.

She just couldn’t bear for folks to see how he lived so she did her best to clean out.  She wiped down the shelves in the living room and kitchen, scrubbed the bathroom, and was making one last walk through before she gathered up her cleaning stuff and walked home.  She couldn’t afford the bus and as tired as she was, she didn’t want to try to sleep on the floor here with the ghosts and grime of the past.  Mama had been gone for years and he had just grown more bitter with time.

As she walked through the bedroom to the front of the house she spied a box on the closet shelf.  “Wonder how I missed that?” She thought.  She set her bucket and rags down and reached up to pull it down.  It was an old boot box, crumbling and faded.  She could just make out the lettering and the picture of steel toe work boots.  She sat down on the floor with it and pulled off the top.  Inside was a treasure.  Mama’s bible and a few pictures, an old lace trimmed hankie that Mama had embroidered, and a little red plastic coin purse – the kind you squeeze to open.  Inside were two coins.  They were odd looking with markings she couldn’t read.  She put them back in the purse and covered the box and set off towards home, hugging the box to her chest.

She trudged up the stairs, unlocked the door of her apartment and flipped on the light switch.  There wasn’t much to see and it needed painting but it was as clean as she could get it and it was hers as long as she kept the waitress job at the diner. It paid the rent and she got a free meal.  Tips bought a few little necessities.  It kept her off the streets and out of the shelter anyway. She put up her cleaning supplies and opened up the box.

She dug out the nicest dish towel she had and smoothed it out on the little box she used for a table.  She laid the bible gently on it.  She folded the hankie and placed it inside the cover where her Mama had signed her name and the date she had been given the bible.  It had her and daddy’s wedding date and the date she was born.  Another lifetime ago.  She closed the cover.  She took the pictures out of the box.  There were her parents, young and smiling.  Another showed her mother holding her when she was born, smiling and proud.  She slid them inside the back cover of the bible. She put the little coin purse inside her tote bag and set the box on the counter.  Stifling a yawn, she headed to the shower and got ready for bed.  She was tired and slept almost as soon as her head hit the pillow.

Day Two

He walked purposefully down the street glancing neither right nor left.  He knew exactly where he was going.  He carried his leather briefcase close to his side and held himself with the dignity of a British royal, even though he was actually a glorified messenger boy.  He turned at her apartment and climbed the steps, debating on whether he should use his handkerchief to knock on the door, this place was back alley seedy and not to his liking at all.  He sighed and raised his hand and rapped on the peeling wooden door.

She washed her breakfast dishes and as she was putting them away there was a loud knock on the door.  She peeped through the little hole and didn’t recognize the man outside.  He definitely wasn’t from around here.  She cracked open the door, peering from behind the chain and timidly said “Yes?”  The gentleman removed his hat and said “Miss Lydia Rose?”

“Yes, that’s me.  But who are you?” She asked.

He passed a business card through the narrow opening.  “Here is my card.  I represent a firm of solicitors in London.”

“England?” She asked.  “You must have the wrong person, Mr. uh, Mr. Brown!  I haven’t done anything wrong!”

“Yes Miss.  That is correct.  My employers wish for me to speak to you about some coins.  If I may please come inside?  I feel a bit uncomfortable discussing this through the door.”  He replied.

She fumbled with the chain, finally removing it and held the door open for him.  “I’m sorry.  I don’t get many visitors.  Please come in.” She said.

“If I may?” He said pointing to the table and chairs.

“Sure” She said.

He placed his briefcase gingerly on the table, flipped it open and took out a stack of papers. He set the papers down and reached into his inside jacket pocket and took out his glasses and put them on.

“Miss Rose, just to clarify, you are the daughter of one recently deceased, Johnny Rose?” He asked her.

“Yes I am, but I don’t understand how that’s any of your business.” She replied.
He raised an eyebrow at that.  Maybe she wasn’t as much of a pushover as they thought.  “There is the matter of Mr. Rose’ estate and we have to verify your identity before we can release it to you” He told her.

“Estate?  My dad?  That’s a laugh.  If this is some kind of a joke Mr. Brown, it isn’t funny.  You need to go back and tell your bosses that they have made some kind of mistake.  The have the wrong Johnny Rose!  My dad didn’t have anything.”  Politeness was wearing thin.  He had a look on his face like he had eaten something sour and she had the feeling that he thought that just because she was poor she must be stupid too.  She had noticed the way he looked around when he walked.  Like he was afraid to touch anything in case he caught poverty like you caught a disease.  She worked and she paid her own way.  She might not have much but she stood on her own two feet and she was proud of it.

“Miss Rose, this is not a joke and I assure you that I wouldn’t come here without a good reason.  If you allow me to explain I think I can prove my story.”  He said.

“Well, then let’s sit down.  Sounds like this will be a long tale.”  She said, pulling out a chair.  He frowned, looking at the other chair and then shrugged and sat down.  “Your mother was Glory Rose, maiden name Jackson?”  He wasn’t really asking her, but she nodded anyway.  “She came to possess two coins.  My employers have been hired by a man who wishes to remain anonymous.  It is his desire to purchase those coins.  If you are able to produce the coins there will be a very generous compensation.  We are assuming that you now have the coins?”

“So estate is not exactly correct. How does this man know my mother had some coins and why are they so important to him?”  Lydia decided she might need to learn a little more before she answered any more questions.

“The coins belonged to his father many years ago.  Your grandmother was working as a housekeeper for his family and she and this man fell in love.  His parents did not approve of course, and sent her away.  He, being young and foolish,  gave her the coins before she left.  He told her to sell them to help her get a start somewhere and he would come for her when he could.” He explained.

“What do you mean ‘his parents did not approve, of course’, Mr. Brown?”  She was getting more than a little tired of this stuffy little man in a too tight suit, who obviously looked down, not only on her, but everyone related to her.

“I don’t mean to be rude, Miss Rose.” He said.

“Well you are, Mr. Brown.  I’m not sure we need to go on with this conversation!”

“Oh. Goodness. I am sorry.  Please let me finish. I think you will be very glad that you did.” He said.  He used his handkerchief to wife a little sweat from his shiny red forehead. It occurred to her that his employers might not be too thrilled if she threw him out and refused to talk to him anymore.  She tucked that knowledge away for future use.  It was always good to know where you stood and what you might be able to use.

“I take it mister young and in love rich boy, never went looking for my grandmother.”  She said.

“On the contrary.  He searched but was never able to find her.  It has taken me years to locate her and by the time I found her, she had passed away.  In her belongings was a letter that she never mailed to him. In it she told him that she kept the coins to remember him  and that she ended up with so much more. She had a child.  That child was your mother, Miss Rose.” He finished triumphantly.

“How did your ‘employers’ end up with a letter that my dead grandmother wrote?” She wanted to know.

“By the time your grandmother passed, your mother was married to Mr. Rose and as I understand it, the two of them didn’t get along.  Your grandmother had been dead and buried for several months before your mother found out.  Notices were sent but she never responded.  We went to her house and there was a box of her things in the garage that the new owners were more than glad for us to take off their hands.  The letter was in that box.  She also wrote that she had given those coins to your mother and told her that they would lead to her father’s family someday.”  He told Lydia.

Lydia stood up and walked around the kitchen, pretending to wipe the counter which was already spotless.  Trying to give herself a little time.  She had known her dad had a mean streak but not that he would have been so cruel to keep her grandmother’s death from her mother.  Even as she thought it she new that it was true.  He was a strange and insecure man.  He didn’t like her mother to go anywhere without him.  It must have been like a prison all those years but she wasn’t the type to get a divorce.  She stuck it out until it killed her.  Did she know about the coins?  She must have known they meant something or they wouldn’t have been in the box with the bible.  It’s a miracle that her dad didn’t find them.

“I’d like to see a little more proof that you are who you say you are, Mr. Brown.  She said.

“Certainly” He said “He pulled out a sheaf of papers with the letterhead to a firm of Solicitors in London.  The address matched the one on Mr. Brown’s business card. “Here is a photocopy of the letter your grandmother wrote to your mother.”  He handed her another piece of paper.  He had a lot of paper.  She took the copy and read through the letter.  She felt the pressure of tears but was determined not to cry in front of this stranger.  “How much are these people willing to pay for this little keepsake my mother left me?” She asked him.

Well, well, he thought.  Now we are getting down to it.  He could almost taste the nice commission he was going to get if he could just bring this to a close.  “You will be very well compensated Miss Rose.  We are prepared to pay you a fee of ten thousand dollars up front and then another ninety thousand when we have the coins in our possession.” He looked smug as he said this and she found he was really starting to get on her nerves.

“You have that much money on you now?  In this neighborhood?” She asked.  “I’d like to see that!”

All I have to do now is reel the fish in, he thought.  He reached for his briefcase again and dialed a combination that opened a bottom compartment.  There were stacks of cash, all neatly bundled.

She walked around the kitchen, shocked at what she had seen.  She had never in her life seen that much money.  “So what do you get out of this?” She asked.

“Well I get a small commission, of course.  For my trouble you know.  I’ve had to do a lot of research to track you down Miss Rose!”  He was smiling now, certain that his money was as good as in his hands.

Lydia leaned up against the counter and took a deep breath.  When she turned around, the lid was off the box and there was a gun in her hand.  Yes, the box held a treasure.  A wonderful treasure.  Mr. Brown’s eyes were wide and he was stuttering and spluttering and his fancy handkerchief wasn’t going to help him now.  “What are you doing?” He asked.

“Mr. Brown, I’ve decided to accept the offer from your employers but I have a different plan that does not include you.” She told him. “I guess you thought you were going to be my hero today.  I think I’ll be my own hero thank you!” She squeezed the trigger.

She went to her closet and put on her best dress and got out her coat that she saved for church.  She put the bible and pictures in her tote bag along with the bundles of money.  She took the papers she would need to identify herself to the solicitors.  Everything that had to do with him she put back in his briefcase along with the gun.  She would make a little stop at the incinerator on her way out.  She gave a little wave in his direction.  “Sorry to leave you like this Mr. Brown, but I’m sure you would understand.  We don’t want to keep your employers waiting any longer!”

She carefully locked the door on her way out.  The incinerator door was almost too small for her bundle of garbage, but she managed to shove it through the hole.  No one would look for her.  She paid cash for her rent and no one here asked questions or bothered to get to know their neighbors.  They were all too deep into their own misery to notice and by the time the smell from her apartment attracted attention, she would be long gone.  She did a little turn and dance step as she moved down the sidewalk toward the bus stop.

Lydia was lost in dreams of future comforts.  Clothes that fit, plenty to eat, no more crappy waitress jobs!  She never saw the car that came barreling down the sidewalk behind her.  She was dead on impact and hit so hard that it knocked her shoes one direction and her tote bag the other.  There was paper and money all over the sidewalk.  Deserted just moments ago, now there were people pouring out of doors grabbing up cash and stuffing it in their pockets.  The local cop shop would have a busy night as the liquor flowed and the unaccustomed windfall brought disagreements.  No one noticed the little man in the coat with the bullet hole in it as he walked by and scooped up the little change purse.

His chest would be sore for weeks, but the vest had done it’s job.  He had told them he could get the coins for fifty thousand and forty was already in a special account.  Ten thousand wasn’t too much to pay for the coins and no loose ends.  The car driver had medical bills that would be taken care of by the life insurance policy that he had taken out on Lydia a year ago.  He hated losing his favorite briefcase.  He strolled down the sidewalk whistling.  The Widow’s Mites, once delivered to his employers, would find their way into a very private collection and he would get his next assignment.

Post Five Hundred

Carry On Tuesday #8 on a Thursday and Sunday Scribbling #171 Indulgence

I re-worked this a bit.  One paragraph had the word listen in it six times – that’s what happens when I write late at night 🙂

This is my FIVE HUNDREDTH post.  I have lived here in the blogosphere since March 2006.  That’s  40 months, or 160 weeks, or 1120 days, or approximately a post every other day.  Who knew I had that much to say.

This little place has changed since the beginning.  I’ve had several themes (getting bored with this one so a change is imminent) , and the focus has changed depending on where my eyes happened to be pointing at the moment.  I’ve written about my opinions on whatever.  Thought out loud, which can be a bit dangerous!  There were the dark times when Dale was so sick and I poured it all out here and held on by my fingernails.

I’ve posted little computer notes on things I’ve learned, I’ve talked about my faith, chronicled “The Great Kidney Transplant”, recipes, pictures,  thoughts about books I have read, whatever sparkled and caught my eye – it landed here.  Thanks Tony, for setting up the blog, for encouraging me to write, and for always patiently answering my unending questions.  This one is for you.

Tomorrow Light #2

It’s been a month since I crept up to the barn and saw the computer under the floor.   If it gets weird here, I’m gone. These days things are crazy.  You just never know.    Glenna and Tom had been kind and I help with  chores.  Glenna has been teaching me how to knit and a little cooking.  This week she  started teaching me how to play the piano.

There was  no lesson today though.  The house was clean from top to bottom and I was helping Glenna in the kitchen.  There were people coming and they would be hungry she said.  I thought it was crazy for others to know where we lived but Glenna smiled and said sometimes we have to trust folks or we might be safe but there won’t be much point to being alive.  I’m not sure what I think about that. I saw some pretty bad stuff happen before I came here and I’m not jumping in and trusting anyone.

Tom has been out in the barn all day putting benches out. Some, he built this morning out of logs.  He set up some sawhorses and boards to make a table to set food on.  Glenna says some folks will bring food.  I’ve been chopping and peeling all day.  We are using fresh vegetable out of the garden that won’t keep anyway.  That at least makes sense to me.

Most everything is done and Glenna said I should take a nap.  People won’t get here till after dark.  I’m not a baby for Pete’s sake.  I climb up to the loft just to make her happy.  I like it up here.  There’s a little window to let in some sunlight and a quilt that has reds and yellows in it.  Tom let me have some blocks and boards up here for a shelf, and Glenna gave me some books.  Ain’t. (I mean ‘I haven’t’, Glenna says I need to stop saying ain’t) had books for awhile and when I did they were mostly hunting and fishing books belonging to Pa.  My favorite right now is Jane Eyre.  She is a poor kid staying with rich family and they are mean to her but she has this whole other life going on in her head.  The rich kids are hateful and think they are so much better than her because she doesn’t have money.  I like her a lot more than her stupid cousins.  I laid down with my book and the sun is warm coming  through the little window.  Next thing I know, I’m waking up and the lanterns are lit downstairs.

I climb down the ladder and see Glenna setting out the bowls of food to take to the barn.

“Well hello, sleepyhead!” She says.  I’m glad you got some rest.  Do you want to help me take these out to the barn?”  Before we start loading up the bowls there is a sound at the door.

Is there anybody there?” said the traveler, knocking on the moonlit door.

My heart’s pounding and I am ready to run out the back but Glenna smiles and says “I’d recognize that voice anywhere!”  She opens the door and hugs the stranger as he steps inside.  “Come in Tony. It’s been too long!”

He has dark shoulder length hair, pulled back in a pony tail and he’s carrying a guitar case.  Glenna had told me he came when they gathered and he would play his guitar and sing. Tthe music was important.  “Hi there.” He said to me, smiling.  He had a kind smile.

“Was your trip hard?” Glenna asked?  He looked a little tired.

“I had to stay off the roads during the day.  North of here there was a group of people on foot that looked like they hadn’t eaten in awhile.  I hid out in the woods until they passed.  They didn’t look friendly.”

Glenna looked concerned. “Which way were they heading?” She asked.

They were on the east road that heads out of town. Soldiers passed in a truck and I didn’t see them any more after that.” He said.

A look passed between them and then they looked at me and got that look grownups get when they remember I’m in the room.

“If you want to clean up a bit, you know where everything is.  We are going to take these to the barn and we’ll be back for more.” Glenna told him.

“Sounds good! I’m hungry and those look like vegetables from your garden.” He said.

“There is plenty. We’ll see you in a minute.” Glenna said as we went out the door towards the barn with bowls and serving spoons.

The barn was transformed! There were lanterns hung around the walls and people were all smiling and hugging and talking at one time.  There were already plates and bowls on the makeshift table.  People took the bowls from us and put them on the table and there were kids giggling up in the hayloft. They were all hugging and greeting each other.  Finally we headed back to the house for the rest of the food.

“Do you remember everything I told you about tonight?” she asked me.

I nodded.  She had told me that we didn’t ever mention the computer but that tonight was important because we would get a new password.  I had heard about the internet and how before everything changed, anyone could talk to anyone else and pass information back and forth.  Now the N.U.S.A. had control and when people can’t talk to each other, they have no way of knowing if what the government tells them is true. No one says it out loud but everyone knows they lie.  You don’t need a computer to figure that out.

Glenna told me that now they had small groups of people that could only talk to each other and then only if they had the password.  There were a bunch of these ‘darknets’, she called them and each group could only talk to the people in their network.  When I asked her how they could connect to each other she smiled and called me ‘one smart cookie’.  She said before the world lost it’s mind, cables were laid all over the place.  If you had to dig a hole and put one cable in, it wasn’t much extra trouble to put in several cables.  There were thousands of fiber cables that were never used and mostly forgotten. They were being used now.

We went back to the house and got the rest of the food and Tony walked back to the barn with us.  When we set the food on the table, Glenna smiled at Tom and he put his fingers to his mouth and whistled.  Everyone stopped chattering and Tom said a blessing, thanking God for letting everyone get there safe, for providing food, and good friends, and asking Him to keep blessing us.  Everyone said Amen and started filling plates and passing them around.  I got me a plate and found a seat on a box back in a corner so I could watch.

The flickering lantern light threw shadows around the barn and reflected in smiling eyes. Men talked about weather and traveling. Women talked about their kids and food and health as they ate.  Kids finished eating first and ran around the barn or hid behind mothers who fussed at them to settle down It wasn’t mad kind of fussing because they would smile indulgently. I didn’t run with them but it was nice to see them having fun  Kind of made me sad about my own mama.  Silly, how can I miss someone I don’t even remember.

Empty bowls and plates were stacked in a metal washtub for later and Tony pulled out his guitar and started to tune it.  Everyone settled down and got quiet as he strummed a few chords.  He played a few songs that some of the older folks must have known, because they sang along.  They asked him to play one of his own songs. I watched Glenna sit quietly as  he began to play.

He picked out the first chords and I heard the word ‘dark’ and my ears perked up.  Glenna sat quietly with her head leaned toward the music and  as he sang the chorus  the second time through she sang it with him.  She had  explained how  the password would be in the music.  I was just beginning to learn but I knew there were eight notes in an octave.  At some point the lyrics would mention the word  ‘dark” and those who knew what to listen for would memorize the chorus and later transcribe the notes in the chorus as numbers.

Just a group of folks getting together, eating and enjoying some music. No law against that.  Tony played a few  more songs after that as families loaded up and started  home.  I helped Glenna start cleaning up and Tony packed up his guitar.  I was walking next to him going back to the house.  I looked up at him and said “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure” He said.

“How did you figure all this stuff out?” I asked.

He smiled. “Music is just math out loud.” He said.

Glenna asked him if he could stay but he said he had to move on.  There were others to sing for and miles to go. He looked at me and grinned. “I think I’ll be seeing you again.”

I hoped so.  I wanted to learn more.
To go back to the beginning : Part One

Return Of The Reluctant Wizard

Carry On Tuesday Prompt # 7 and Sunday Scribbling # 169 Toys

“Our year is up” she said. “Will you go then?”

“I cannot stay and cannot go” He said.  His eyes filled at the thought of leaving her but he missed his home and he knew he was needed.  Could he deny himself and go?  There was nothing but pain in this decision but he would do what he must.

He smiled at Nuala and held out his arms to her.  The music was playing and they began to dance slowly, swaying with it.  She laid her head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat.  “You will be old again and in pain.  I can’t bear it.”  She sighed.  “I know” He said softly.  “You know my heart.” He hummed softly and began to sing with the music.  “The red rose whispers of passion and the white rose breathes of love.  None can compare with the beauty, of my lady and the moon above…” As he sang the last words she found her arms empty and wept.

He was in the cave again and his body that had been young and healthy for his too short time with Nuala had aged and the feelings, the aches and pains, hunger, thirst, all came upon him in waves.  He slowly opened his eyes and looked around.  The wall was covered with runes of protection.  He knew that the cave would have been hidden by magic and so undisturbed until he returned.  There was no fire and he was cold but more he needed nourishment.  There would be nothing til he made his way down to the valley, to his home.

He slowly got up, saw his pack and staff, laying where they fell a year ago.  He opened the pack and sprinkled the herbs that were left on the floor of the cave in gratitude for the gift of the last year and for returning him safely. He pulled on his cloak and once again took up staff and pack and set off.  He had forgotten how painful each step was and he carefully and slowly climbed down from the cave, wishing for the path to be easier, but knowing that everything has it’s price and the cost for a year with Nuala would be great.  His breath became labored and he was shaking from weakness but he kept going.  Holding to branches, and clutching his staff he continued, nearly weeping from the struggle.

At last the ground evened out a bit and the going was not as tedious. The sun was coming up higher.  He had been traveling in the half light of early dawn and was grateful for the light and the warmth.  How he had missed the sun!  The morning birds were waking and singing in the trees and the sounds of earth animals coming out of their burrows to greet the day.  He walked on, weariness slowing him and yearning for home moving him forward.  He finally reached the edge of his beloved valley and smiled as he walked just a tiny bit faster.  Home was waiting.

Finally he reached the path that led to his house and as he stumbled forward, the sun was kind to him and warmed his bones, the same old bones that had dreamed of a lady in the moon.  He staggered to his door and with barely enough strength to push it open, thankfully entered the home he had missed.  He dropped the pack and staff and loosened his cloak.  He drew some water from the old pump and drank thirstily.  He toyed with the idea of eating but it would have to wait.  He all but fell on his bed and slept til the sun set, knowing nothing for those hours.  He woke with the moon and stepped outside his door to gaze up at the glowing iridescent orb that held his heart.  It might have been his imagination, but he could have sworn that Nuala wept a tear that became a shooting star.  It lit up the night sky over his valley for just a second and then as quickly as it appeared, was gone.

shhh – I’m back…

This post brought to you by the music of John Mayer:

Down to the wire
I wanted water
but I’ll walk through the fire
if this is what it takes
to take me even higher
then I’ll come through, like I do
when the world keeps testing me, testing me, testing me…

There is a storm coming in and it meant cloud cover at the track this morning so I got an extra lap in and then came home and helped finish mowing the lawn.  Perspiration seems to equal inspiration 🙂 Come on sweet rain!

Like the reluctant wizard, we are never completely happy.  We want and wish, and when we get, it doesn’t satisfy.  We think if only…

Sunday Scribbling Vision and Carry On Tuesday #5

The italicized text in the first sentence is the prompt for Carry On Tuesday. and Sunday Scribbling prompt #168 is Vision

Tomorrow Light #1

A lantern light from deep in the barn shone on a man and woman in the door.  I shrunk deep as I could into the shadows.  I couldn’t hear everything they were saying because of the wind.  Then the wind let up and their words were carried through the night mist.

“Think its late enough?” The woman asked.

“Hope so, we have to chance it anyway.”  The man pulled a key from his pocket and they moved deeper into the barn.  The woman had a broom and swept straw from a place on the floor.  She helped the man lift a piece of plywood that had been covered with the straw and together they set it aside.  He knelt down and did something outside of my vision.  They pulled something and a part of the floor came up.  There was a trapdoor in the barn!

They both disappeared into the hole.  Now what?  Do I get closer?  What if they catch me?  Since the “New United States” had been formed people were suspicious of everyone.  There were whispers of people snooping around and next thing you know, nobody is speaking about them and everything about them is just gone.

You never heard about them on the news.  No sir.  All the news has to say is that things are getting better everywhere since the new president.  They say poverty is being eradicated, whatever that means.  Seems to me that everyone I know is poor.  Maybe that’s what they mean.  No one is any poorer than anyone else.

Ain’t no insurance anymore either.  The government news talks about medical care for all but it don’t mention nothing about having to wait so long to see a doctor that you die of old age if whatever you got don’t kill you.

I should know.  That’s what landed me here in the first place.  Pa got a cough that just kept getting worse and by the time he got to see a doc it was too late.  Guess he knew all along because he taught me stuff about taking care of myself.  I grew up in the country so I knew a lot of stuff already.  Ma died when I was little so it had been me and him long as I could remember so I knew how to cook and do chores.  Knew a little first aid.  He showed me plants you could eat in the woods, and stuff you could use for medicine.

He’s been gone two weeks and I found this farm a few days ago.  I’ve been hiding at night in the woods behind and slipping up just before dawn and stealing a little from the garden.  They have fresh tomatoes, I haven’t had anything so good in awhile.  Tonight I had been heading to my hiding spot when I heard the man and woman talking and eased back up closer to see what I could find out.  He spoke nice to her and she smiled at him a lot.

I crawl closer til I’m just outside the door.  I can hear muffled voices coming from under the floor.  I’m sweating and shaking but I can’t stand not knowing.  I get closer and closer trying to be silent.

I am right there now and peep over the edge.  I bite my lip so no sound comes out.  There in that hole is a computer.  My pa told me about them.  Everyone used to have one and they could read stuff and talk to each other.  I always wanted to see a real one but the government had shut down the internet for regular folks.  Only people that had it now were government or a group of folks the government called Downloaders.  They hunted them and rounded them up.  Sometimes there would be a news story about them and according to the news, they were the root of everything wrong these days.  Sucking up all the fossil fuel and something they called bandwidth.  They were accused of stirring up trouble and they would be taken for relocation and rehabilitation. Pa would always snort and say “Never thought the country would come to this.”  Then he’d turn off the tv and refuse to watch it for days.

Sometimes when we were fishing he would talk about the old days.  He never talked about ma though.  I guess it still made him sad.  I’m laying here just thinking and watching and the man and woman are huddled together in front of the screen.  I can’t see it but there must be someone there because a voice is coming from speakers next to it.

“Good to see you, Tom.  Hasn’t been much news from the south lately.  Looks like you’re almost completely cut off.” The voice said.

“We’re having to be more careful.  There’s been a lot of New United States Army trucks on the roads lately. No one is saying much and we’re all staying off the roads.  Don’t want to attract their notice when we have no idea what they are up to. ”  The man said.

“How’s Lani and the boys?” The woman asked.

“Doing ok, Glenna. Thanks for asking.” The voice said.  “Our littlest has a cough, but now that spring is here he seems better. Lani misses you”

“Glad to hear they are ok.  You give them my love, Wes.”  The woman named Glenna told him.

“What about you and Tom?” He asked. “You holding up ok?  How’s the garden?”

“Wish we could send you some fresh vegetables.” John  told him. “Glenna canned some vegetable soup for next winter.”

“Lani would love that.  She craves salad and she always loved Glenna’s cooking.  She worries the boys aren’t getting enough healthy food but no one is these days. You stay safe and try to get word to us if you learn anymore about those N.U.S.A. trucks.”

“Will do,”  John said. “Same to you and Lani and the boys.”

The screen glow changed colors so voice man must be gone.  Time for me to move.  I start to inch back and  a loose piece of straw falls and lands next to the keyboard.  The man was shutting the thing down and he and Glenna both looked up at the same time.  Forget being sneaky.  I jumped up and ran for it but I guess all the sleeping in the woods and eating stolen scraps hadn’t done me any favors, because fast as I was, the man was much faster.  I was almost to the edge of the circle of light outside the barn when he grabbed hold of a fistful of my shirt and backpack and I went down.

I wasn’t taking any chances on how nice they were. I came up kicking and scratching and he just wrapped huge arms around me and lifted me all the way off the ground.  I still fought but there wasn’t much I could do.  I didn’t yell. because who was going to come?  No help that’s for sure.  I f anyone did come they might be worse than what I had gotten myself into with these two.

I kicked out and he let out a little yelp of pain and backed into the barn door.  Soon as we were inside, Glenna shut the door and stood in front of it holding the broom like a weapon.  “Don’t try it.” She said, shaking her head.  My escape cut off, I settled down.  Guess I was going to have to play like I was scared (which wasn’t to hard to do) and watch for my moment.

“Why Tom – it’s a little girl!  What are we going to do now?”

He asked me if I was going to be quiet and not try to run.  Said he would let me loose if I promised.  I nodded my head and he turned loose of me.  I dashed off a few feet, rubbing my arms where he had nearly squashed me.  I stood there looking at them with my arms crossed.

The man asked me “What’s your name?”
“Where’d you come from?”  Silence.

I just stared at him.  What difference did my name make?  The woman was looking at me, eyes all full of pity.  I knew I had lost weight and I needed a bath.
“Tom, she looks like she’s starving.  We have to feed her” She said softly.  Tom  frowned and sighed.  “Let’s get you in the house and I’ll draw some bath water.  You’re covered in mosquito bites and if you don’t get clean you’ll get an infection and I don’t want some dead kid on my conscience.”  The thought of food and a bath!  I can always take off later.  I nodded and said thanks.  Glenna opened the door and the man kept his hand on me like I might take off if he turned loose and I followed them inside.

A look passed between them and I couldn’t tell what they were thinking.  Tom had a helpless look on his face and Glenna was smiling at him like she had just gotten a present.  Maybe they aren’t so bad and they DO have a computer.

Cassie and Kell are telling me their new story right now – they will be back soon 🙂

Stealing time #4

I’m not happy with this and I’m not sure why.  I’m going to live with it a bit and revise later if I need to.  Made a few minor changes. A few of the sentences were driving me crazy.

For now this is for prompts from Sunday Scribbling – soul mate and Carry On Tuesday #3 There are waking dreams and sleeping dreams.

Kell bent to pick up the letter at the same time Cassie reached for it.  They bumped heads and they both jerked back.  Cassie rubbed her forehead and laughed nervously.  Kell reached out and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.  “You okay?” He asked.

“I’m fine” she said. “Read the letter, Kell!  The suspense is killing me!!”

He picked it up and carefully unfolded the letter.  The paper was thin at the creases, where it had been folded for a long time.

“It’s my handwriting!” He exclaimed.  He sank down on the couch by Cassie and they read the letter.

“If you are reading this and you’re me – you aren’t crazy and this IS real.

I don’t have a lot of time.  Cassie will be back soon and I don’t want to worry her.  I think we will be moving on soon.

Just a couple of things that might help down the line.  Trust Cassie, but don’t leave it all on her.  She is your soul mate. Time to start carrying your part, dude. Cassie is only part of it – you are key.

Trust the dreams – waking and sleeping.  Be careful because as you now know, things aren’t always what they seem.

The guy with the eyes is real.  He’ll come through time to stop you.

P.S. There’s cash in our hiding place.”

Me

Kell dropped the letter on the couch next to Cassie and started pacing, running his fingers through his hair.  Cassie picked up the letter and reread it hoping for more.

“Stop us from what?” Kell had stopped pacing and stared at Cassie. “What does it mean – I’m key?” He asked.  Cassie shook her head, suddenly unable to speak.  There were tears in her eyes and Kell sat down next to her and hugged her.  “It’s ok.  At least it will be.  We will figure this out together.  From now on it’s both of us.”  He told her as he smoothed her hair.

“I wish I knew.  The only thing I know for sure right now is..”

“Is what?”  Kell asked.

“I’m hungry!”  Cassie said.

Kell grinned. “Let’s go check the hiding place and see what we have.  Hopefully this future still has pizza! Come on.”  Kell pulled Cassie up from the couch and started towards the bedroom.  Cassie followed, curious.  Kell opened the closet and moved some clothes out of the way and knelt down.  He reached to the side and pulled the molding away from the floor.  There, in a plastic bag was some folded up money and cards.  He took the cards and some of the money out and replaced the bag and molding.

“You’ve done this before?”  She asked.  Kell smiled.  “Yes.  Ever since I was a kid.  I had a stepdad that would take anything we had to buy booze so I learned early to hide anything valuable.  The letter really must have been from me.  Let’s go find something to eat.”

They headed out the door and down the street.    They didn’t see the man in the leather coat across the street.  He was  standing in the shadow of a doorway across the street.  The man  smiled and threw his cigarette at a cat that ran by him.  He headed off in the same direction, whistling.

For the previous Stealing Time stories click the Stealing Time tag at the top of this post.