Flash Frenzy Round 124

Posted: January 28, 2017 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , ,

Welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 124! Your judge this weekend is A.V. Laidlaw.

Before we get started, here’s a brief reminder of the rules.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. You all have 36 hours to create your best work of up to 360 words (exclusive of title) and post it into the comments below. Please include your word count (required) and Twitter handle if applicable. For complete rules, click here. 

The winning author and their story will be featured as Wednesday’s Hump-Day Quickie and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

round 124

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

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Comments
  1. Frank Key says:

    Uncle Charlie
    by Frank Key
    356 words
    @Frankdaad

    Fresh off an humiliating ejection from the 24-hour bingo hall yet, thankfully, still a bit early for his appointment with the civil court clerk, Uncle Charlie paused in the midst of the long walk between to warm his legs over the familiar sidewalk grate. Ten more dollars – cash not check – was all he needed to pay the fine for loitering or expect an arrest warrant to be issued with his name the answer to the ‘fill in the blank with’ game.

    The clerk, Suzy Peek, an old flame from their days spent in cheap beer halls with wood chip covered floors, would surely, he thought, understand his plight and cover the short fall. “I’ll pay you back by midnight, I promise” he quietly rehearsed then promptly remembered he still owed her from last time (or was it the time before that?).

    Resigned to the fact he was indeed out of options, Uncle Charlie checked his watch for the time. The southbound freight bound for Atlanta out of Newark was due to pass through within the hour. He might just make it if he hurried to the rail yard without pause.

    Wouldn’t you know it, fate chose that precise moment for me to be the kink in his plans.

    “Hey, Charlie, whatcha up to so early?” I stopped and straddled the bike with both legs. He seemed much too overjoyed to see me.

    “Why, hello there, kiddo, on your way to school?”

    “Yep.”

    “Say, you wouldn’t happen to have a little extra lunch money you can spare? I’ll pay you back by midnight, I swear.”

    I sighed. My mother’s brother, two sprouts from the same seed.

    “How much?”

    “Twenty dollars. It’s to get some much needed groceries.”

    Nice try selling but I wasn’t buying. “How much is the fine this time?”

    I pedaled ahead to the clerk’s office, paid the whole amount then chatted girl talk with Suzy.

    The memory brought a smile as I glanced at his grave marker while tossing a hand full of soil on my mother’s sinking coffin in the old family plot.

    “Rest easy. Y’all’s debts are paid in full.”

    End
    ~

  2. ewansmithxxx says:

    @ewanandsmith
    359 words

    Meeting

    He looked anxiously at his watch. 7:13. A whole minute since he’d last checked the time.
    “This is ridiculous,” he muttered. He couldn’t remember ever feeling so nervous before. He gazed up and down the street; no sign of her. He felt his arm twitch and he forced himself not to glance at his watch again. Instead, he caught sight of the cigarette in his hand.
    “Why am I smoking?” he groaned, throwing it to the pavement in disgust. He’d spent an age in the bathroom, brushing his teeth, flossing his teeth, gargling with mouthwash. And why? What did he think was going to happen on the date? “Ridiculous,” he muttered again.
    Though not half as ridiculous as the fact that he’d also changed his sheets. His bitter laugh echoed down the street. “Stupid old fool!” It wasn’t that he had any notion that they would end the night in bed together; of course they wouldn’t. It was just…he had no idea how this worked.
    He tried to calculate how long it was since he’d last gone on a date. 35 years – 40 years. That was with Maeve, of course, the only woman for him. Until now.
    For a moment, he wondered what she would think of this date. But he knew the answer to that. She would be happy for him. He felt a sourness in the back of his throat. This had been a mistake. He turned and headed off down the street. He should never have thought it would work.
    “Arun – hi!”
    He stopped and looked back. For a moment, his heart missed a beat. She was so beautiful. Well actually she was quite dumpy and her hair was a mess. But her smile, those eyes – they left him breathless.
    She stretched forward and kissed his cheek.
    “I’m so looking forward to this,” she laughed. “Two old folk like us on a date – isn’t it exciting?”
    She slipped her arm through his and squeezed it. He could feel her breast, it seemed so normal. As they set off down the road, she chatted excitedly and he blinked to stop the tears from spilling down his cheeks.

  3. WAITING

    * * *

    Brian S Creek
    @BrianSCreek
    359 words

    * * *

    Six o’clock. On the dot. Corner of Third and Anderson.
    She wouldn’t be late. She promised. Promised.
    I look around, checking the faces of people passing. Heading home or heading out. No one pays attention to this frail old man waiting on a street corner. I’m invisible.
    I light another cigarette and check the time again. Minute past six. Of course it is. Why would it be otherwise? So impatient. Time doesn’t speed up, not for me. Not like it does for her. Where is she?
    I’m wearing the suit she saw me in last. Kept it all the years since we were last together. So she knows it’s me. My face must look so different now.
    Wait! What if she doesn’t like how I look now? What if she’s found someone else? Have I been a fool to wait all this time?
    No. Silly. She is my soul mate. We went through hell together. Adventures beyond belief. She’ll come for me.
    “Dad!”
    No! They found me. My daughter and my son-in-law. They’ll ruin everything. I can’t run; that feat is beyond me. And if I leave this spot now, she might not find me again.
    “Dad,” yells my daughter; half anger, half joy. “We’ve been looking all over for you. You shouldn’t be out on your own.” She glances at my hand. “And you’re smoking?”
    More anger now. Less joy.
    “Dad, we need to get you back to the hospital.”
    “No!” I yell, startling strangers in the vicinity. “I’m not going back. I’m going away.”
    “Going away?” says my stupid son-in-law. “Where?”
    I point up at the sky.
    My daughter rolls her eyes; nothing but disappointment. “Not this again.”
    I glance at my watch and look around. Where is she? This could be our last chance.
    “Dad, we’ve talked about this. Doctor Walker has talked about this. She’s not real.”
    “She is!”
    My son-in-law takes my arm.
    I fight them both, but my attempts are nothing more than soft breezes.
    How could she have forgotten me?
    I glance round as we cross the street-
    -and see her standing there.
    Too late.
    Too late.
    Goodbye, my happy ending.
    Goodbye.

  4. Angelique Pacheco says:

    Word Count: 360

    The Corner.

    Every day he waits on the same street corner. He is elderly and the wrinkles on his face show the passages of time. He wears his dark suit which he presses every night. It’s the one he always wore to dinners and dances. He calmly smokes his cigarette and looks at his watch. His shoulders slump and tears fill his eyes. He sighs as he turns around and walks away.

    1939

    “Come Hiu! Let’s go dance tonight.”

    “I can’t. I have to study.”

    He didn’t look up, knowing full well that she would be staring at him with a pointed look on her face. She flopped down on his bed pulling at the braces uncomfortably.

    “Honestly, I don’t know how men parade around like this all day. Everything feels so tight. I almost want to go to a fancy dress.” She muttered half-annoyed.

    “I didn’t tell you to dress like a boy and come find me in the men’s residence,” he retorted, mildly amused.

    He closed the books and swiveled in his chair. He wouldn’t be able to study further tonight. He lay down beside her and tenderly caressed her cheek.

    He loved her impulsivity. She was a gorgeous redhead who made many a head turn. He loved that she saw through their differences. They would go dance in Chinatown. He wouldn’t be allowed in at one of the regular dances.

    “Are you planning to go dressed like that?” he asked, a bubble of laughter growing inside of him.

    “Don’t be silly!” she replied as she hopped off the bed. Meet me in an hour at the corner. We can walk together from there.” She grabbed his face and kissed him with a fiery passion then bounced out the door, her cap slightly askew.

    He took his time getting dressed knowing she had to go home and put on a dress. He checked to see if the blackout curtains were still in place and walked to the door. A loud explosion somewhere down the street almost knocked him to the floor. He was gripped with fear as he ran down the street towards the corner that was no longer there.

  5. TanGental says:

    To Disappear In A Puff Of Smoke
    342 words @geofflepard
    Four more minutes. God, how had it come to this? A stooge. The Great Disappeareo, a young’un’s stooge. And a woman’s stooge at that.
    Walter glanced up at ladders, webbing across the back of the stained bricks of the Union Theatre. What about the time he shinned up there while still handcuffed because Prescott forget the key? That was a disastrous tour, that one, them sacked and then arrested for locking that charlatan, Rogers, in his office. They got away with it though, didn’t they?
    He sucked on the cigarette, savouring every woody part; his last ciggie, too. If she didn’t pay him tonight he didn’t know how he’d cope. She was nice enough, Wendy, aka Mademoiselle Mysterio, but her escapes were pretty tame. Not like him at his best, before the Big C took his guts in more ways than one. Lucky to be alive, they said, but what did they know? He always escaped, didn’t he? It was what he did. Boxes, padlocks, women, debt, death, he’d cheated them all, even if he now had to rely on bloody charity.
    ‘Hey, Wally, you need to get back in the box.’
    Walter eyed the youngster rheumily. Cheeky scrap. No one called him Wally. He was no wally.
    Taking one final drag on his cigarette, Walter dropped the butt. It slipped through the grating and down into the basement. By the time Walter was back inside the locked crate, the oily rags were smouldering. As the drums rolled, the first flames licked the dark spillage. While Wendy played on the audience’s anticipation – not a bad turn out for a freezing matinee – and Walter adjusted his position to minimize the incipient cramp, the fire filled the basement with an acrid and deadly smoke.
    Walter’s last thoughts before he lapsed into unconsciousness were of that last cigarette and how, one way or another, he would blag enough money to buy another packet. After all, he told himself, if there was one thing he’d not give up on in a hurry, whatever else happened to him, it was his smokes.

  6. alva1206 says:

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    360 words

    Wrong Place, Wrong Time

    We almost missed him. Didn’t fit the profile, did he? Hour after hour poring over CCTV footage, checking car licences, zooming in on the young undesirables roaming the street looking for a quick hustle, stopping briefly at the girls selling their bodies and souls, giving a cursory glance to the usual homeless crew huddled over the steaming vents.

    Nothing.

    He’d completely vanished.

    Until young Denis yelled, ‘Stop! Go back, no not to the corner, to the street. There! Him! The old guy in the dyed hair, cheap ill-fitting suit, sneakers, checking his watch.’

    ‘Christ, Dinny, we’re looking for a bank robber and a getaway car, not an old geezer out for a smoke and an evening stroll.’

    ‘No! look closer. That’s what we’re supposed to see. Zoom in, Matt. See that mark on his cheek. It’s the brand. That’s him. No matter how he disguises himself he can’t hide that. It’s him! I’m willing to bet my Camaro on it. Well, no, wait, maybe not my Camaro. Ok, my girlfriend’s Buick.’

    Meanwhile, inside a third-floor squalid tenement flat on 51st St., Manny Golden had run out of cigarettes. ‘For God’s sake woman, didn’t I ask you to get me smokes on the way home. You know I can’t go out there.’

    ‘Ah jeez, Manny, I forgot. Da will go for you. Da! Take a walk to Rubin’s on the corner and pick up Manny’s fags will ya? Don’t take more than 10 minutes. You know what he’s like. And for chrissakes don’t open the goddamn packet and filch one. We’re timing you, Da. Go now. Be back in ten or Manny’ll have me guts for garters.’

    Old Da Martino, glad to get out into the air and away from the greasy chip-pan tenement, pulled on his jacket and sneakers and sauntered down to the corner.

    ‘Marlboro for yer man upstairs, Rubin, and if ya have a loose one, I’d be obliged.’

    Knowing Manny’s temper, the old man checked his watch on the way back to the grease camp. He still had five minutes.

    Little did he know he’d been clocked by CCTV.

    Da Martino’s life was about to get complicated.

  7. stephellis2013 says:

    Health Kick

    340 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    Drac stared at the Fitbit, a gift from his daughter. Then he glanced down at his feet, the latest trainers—another present—this time from his son. And if anyone had seen him earlier … as one unfortunate soul had … they would not have been able to miss the garish green shell suit which had come from his wife. Now however, Drac wore the aforesaid unfortunate’s clothes and left his victim to lie, gherkin-like, in the grass waiting for the police to identify him.

    Drac picked at the cheap cloth of his jacket, an offense to his sartorial sensibilities but not as much as his wife’s distasteful, although well-meant gift. Not that he had complained about her choice, he was rather touched that she continued to remember his birthday after all this time. And it also showed how much she wanted them to fit into the twenty-first century, embracing fully the modern obsession with health and fitness. At her insistence he had attended both a Well Man clinic and a Blood Donor session and had been thoroughly delighted with what the programmes had to offer – although sadly neither clinic continued to operate after his visits. Now though things were getting a bit more strenuous.

    Resignedly, he checked the Fitbit but smiled when he saw his heart-rate flatlining – in perfect condition as always. He looked at the step target his son had given him – just 50,000. Did they really think he was only capable of such a derisory number? He’d show them. Drac lapped the park repeatedly until he hit the target, his exertions lasting mere seconds. Satisfied, he allowed himself the one pleasure no one had yet taken from him and lit up a cigarette. Thought about his wife preparing breakfast. She had put him on her version of the LighterLife diet subjecting him to rather scrawnier specimens than his usual Full English. He took another drag of his cigarette and turned towards home. The sun would soon be up adding a perfect summer’s day to complete his misery.

  8. A Boring Picture
    ________________

    “It’s a man!”

    “What’s he doing?”

    “He looks like he is checking his watch.”

    “His what?”

    “Watch!!”

    “Why?”

    “How should I know.”

    “Sounds like a boring picture.”

    “That is the point.”

    “Boring is the point?”

    “No! To challenge you.”

    “Challenge you with boring.”

    “It isn’t boring.”

    “What does he look like?”

    “Italian.”

    “Why?”

    “I don’t know. The way he’s dressed.”

    “I’m Italian, are you saying I dress funny?”

    “What?”

    “Where is he?”

    “Why don’t you come look?”

    “Because I’m cooking this wonderful meal for our guests that will be here in… 30 minutes.”

    “He’s on a street.”

    “Street?”

    “Sidewalk.”

    “Which is it?”

    “That smells good.”

    “Sidewalk or street?”

    “The Lasagna.”

    “He standing on lasagna?”

    “Listen, I can’t come up with a thing.”

    “Maybe, he’s coming over here for dinner?”

    “Yeah.”

    “My father is coming.”

    “Okay.”

    “My father is always late. He always checks his watch because he is never on time.”

    “Okay. Keep going.”

    “He owes money to every bookie in town.”

    “He does?”

    “Yes. And they are trying to catch him so he goes down mysterious streets, streets where dreams die in an ocean of neon and broken screams.”

    “That’s pretty good.”

    “Shit!!”

    “What?”

    “Nothing. Okay, he checks his watch but it isn’t there.”

    “It’s not there?”

    “Someone stole it off his wrist while he was sleeping.”

    “That sounds far-fetched.”

    “He was drugged.”

    “By mastermind criminals?”

    “Exactly. To pay a debt.”

    “I’m writing as fast as I can.”

    “The watch was an heirloom. Priceless. Bought in Paris in 1923 by his father.”

    “Oh yeah… that’s good.”

    “He has missed too many of his daughters birthdays, but, he must get his watch back.”

    “What does he do?”

    “What does he do?”

    “He calls and tells his daughter he will be late.”

    “That’s boring, and anyway it’s my story.”

    “Put some more poetry in.”

    “Somewhere a watch ticked surrounded by diamond stars wishing for an endless night.”

    “I’m not sure what that means but it sounds great.”

    “He calls his daughter.”

    “I thought you didn’t like that.”

    “My cell is flashing.”

    (Pause)

    “Hi dad. Oh, that’s okay. I understand. Your favorite. 8:00 sharp. What’s that? Are those gunshots!? Daddy…”

    “Keep going…”
    _________________________________________
    (360)

  9. ewansmithxxx says:

    lol! I love this. Dracula survives everything the human race can throw at him…except a healthy lifestyle.

  10. CheffoJeffo says:

    Jeff Dick
    @CheffoJeffo
    352 Words

    I Promise

    Henry hadn’t liked it when Sophie took a job at the mattress factory. He liked it less that she didn’t get out until six. It wasn’t seemly for a married — well, almost married — woman to have to work. Providing for his family was a man’s — a husband’s — responsibility. He didn’t like the thought of his pretty young fiancee standing around outside a dirty factory in a questionable neighborhood, surrounded by a bunch of drunks, roughs and ne’er-do-wells. It had been difficult, but he’d gotten her to agree that she would quit once she got pregnant.

    “I promise.”

    He tapped the cigarette gently, letting the ash drift gently through the grate in the sidewalk. Much more civilized than flicking it violently into the street or at a passerby, as seemed to be the custom here. Sophie didn’t like when he smoked, didn’t like the taste. She’d been understanding enough about it. Everyone in his office smoked. It wasn’t an easy thing for him to give up. All she’d asked was that he quit before the wedding.

    “I promise.”

    Henry pushed back the cuff of his jacket to check the time. He shook his head and quickened his pace. The watch had belonged to Sophie’s father. It was the last remembrance of family that either of them had left. She’d made a gift of it during their bus ride into the city. “You can’t be successful if you keep showing up late everywhere you go. This way you’ll always be on time, won’t you?”

    “I promise.”

    The young attendant watched, then turned to his companion. “This happen often?”

    “Every other week or so going back as many years as I can remember. Damned if I know how he gets out or where he goes, but he always ends up here and always at half past six.” The older man kicked at a piece of trash. “Can’t say as I blame him. What they did to that girl? I ain’t ever heard of anything so awful. Not even in the movies.”

    Henry’s lips quivered as they loaded him into the van.

    “I promise.”

  11. Voima Oy says:

    Tuesday
    @voimaoy
    360 words

    He wears his father’s face, his grandfather’s face. Haunted eyes of refugees, children died too young. He sees them in the mirror. His face is the face of history, repeating.

    His name is Melvin Richman. He was a lawyer before this. He worked downtown, and wore expensive suits. Now he tells everyone he is retired. He feels the walls closing in.

    It’s Tuesday, twelve noon, and he stands at the corner by the Uptown bank. He checks his watch, lights another cigarette.

    A woman walks past, wearing a trench coat like an old movie spy. She looks at him, looks away, turns back toward him. “Excuse me, do you have the time?”

    “I’m afraid my watch has stopped.” he hesitates. “The sign on the bank is flashing thirteen.”

    She nods. “Come with me. There’s a cafe around the corner.”

    The place is filled with people. He hears Spanish voices in the kitchen. A dark-haired girl comes by, pours coffee. “What would you like today?”

    The woman glances at the menu. “The Tuesday special looks good.”

    The waitress turns to him. “And you sir?”

    “Yes, the special for me, too. Thank you.”

    They sit and drink their coffee. The woman is calm, her silver hair in a ragged short cut. She has beautiful hands. He imagines her fingers would be cool, like water, like kindness.

    “I like this place,” he says.

    “I’m glad you do. I like it, too. So.” She puts down the coffee cup. “You’re not working for the devil anymore?”

    “I used to be a corporate attorney. I did some pro bono work years ago.”

    “That’s why you’re here, now, isn’t it? You want to make a difference, be a voice for the voiceless, isn’t that what you said.”

    “I did say that once. It seems like a long time ago.”

    “Well, the time is now, Mr. Richman. Would you like to keep that name? We can change it, change your face, if you like.”

    “Who are you people?”

    “You can call me Grace. Grace Jones.” She takes his hand. Her fingers are warm and her smile is kind. “Welcome to the Resistance. We have work to do.”

  12. ewansmithxxx says:

    ‘Now he tells everyone he is retired. He feels the walls closing in.’ I really like the sense of someone driven, despite himself, to do good. Great story, Voima.

  13. @KreskaFiction
    357 words

    COSR

    You never think that life changing things can happen when you put your bins out. Stan looked at his empty wrist, the place that once held his beloved watch. What should I call him? A robber, attacker – but then, he didn’t attack me, in fact, he asked me very politely if he could have my wallet and jewellery. I told him I had neither. That was when he started getting agitated, I knew the gun he was holding would make a mess at short range, I knew this because I’d fought in the Pacific War-New Guinea. I also knew that this was his first attempt.

    ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t carry my wallet when I’m at home.’ The robber glanced at my watch.
    ‘I’ll take that then. Hurry up.’ I looked down at my timepiece.
    ‘I was in the War. This was a gift …’
    ‘You sir, have a home, and food on your table.’ I nodded and looked into his eyes. I’d missed it. That look I’d seen before.

    ‘What happened to you?’ I asked.
    ‘Everything. Your watch sir-’

    Everything. I remembered everything back on the beaches when we were pummelled day and night. Everything was coming at us, and we were hardly trained to deal with it. It was at that moment that it happened.

    ‘You can have my watch if you come inside and have breakfast with me, and tell me what has happened.’

    I remember that moment. The gun was no longer a threat, he was shaking and about to burst into tears. He wasn’t expecting it.

    ‘I – I.’

    ‘Listen. I know what it’s like to think there’s no way out. Two months of bombing, we were wet, cold, hungry, disillusioned, abandoned – man, we thought we’d stumbled into hell.’ The man wavered. His eyes softened.

    ‘Put the gun away – come inside.’ He ran fingers through his hair. That day, I not only gave him my watch, I gave him my holiday savings – it wasn’t much $400 – but then, as he said, I had everything – yes, I had everything; and the sort of nightmares I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

  14. A Gargoyle With His Name On It

    ‘Gargoyle.’
    Since the age of five I’d heard the word repeated in my head. Couldn’t work out who was speaking. Can’t have been me. I didn’t even know what it meant.
    At nine I stumbled on a library book picture. Spelt out the word. Yes, that was it. My head-word. I stared at the gargoyle’s evil little face, claw feet and moss-covered wings. Now I knew.
    At twelve, more head-words began to repeat themselves.
    ‘30th. January 2017, 3.30pm.’
    Twenty-Seventeen? Way in the future. I worked out I’d be seventy-seven. I imagined wearing a silver suit, flying with hover-boots and eating meals as pills. I looked forward to washing down a broccoli pill, instead of eating the horrible stuff.
    Throughout my teens, I heard the date again, while brushing my teeth or instead of my teacher’s voice. I accepted it. At twenty I began to wonder if this was the day of my death. Fine. I couldn’t imagine even being over forty. At twenty-one I began to hear the place.
    ‘Manhole cover. Queen Street. Opposite the bank.’
    It shocked me the first time. I was now certain.
    Years passed. I had a job, a rented place. I never bothered with things other folk had. No wife and kids. No career. No car. No property. As I neared forty, I realised I was halfway. My life so far over again. Okay. As long as I had a few quid in my pocket for beers and smokes I wasn’t bothered. I drifted. Work. Home. Work. Pub. Evenings asleep in front of TV. The words had become part of me.
    ‘Gargoyle.’
    My head-word. Maybe everyone heard this but no one ever said.

    So the day’s here. I laugh. No silver suit, hover-boots and meal pills. Shame.
    It’s twelve. Plenty of time. I head to the place. The only bank in Queen Street’s now a pub. Good news. I prop up the bar, savouring my last beer.
    Lighting my final cigarette, I step outside. I glance upwards. The gargoyle stares down at me, wings moving slightly. Was my name written on it?
    I step onto the manhole cover and check my watch.
    Now.
    Now.
    Now?

    @SalnPage
    #FlashDog
    360 words

    • ewansmithxxx says:

      lol! That’s brilliant. I love the idea that knowing the time and place of your death would drain all purpose and meaning from your life. (And I do wish that we still put gargoyles on our buildings these days…)

      • Thanks Ewan. Yeah, I love gargoyles. But is it this character’s death? An ambiguous ending? Is he about to meet someone life-changing? The love of his life perhaps? Or the gargoyle falls and he saves the life of a child who will grow up to do something great? Or maybe his watch is wrong? Or he’ll just go back into the pub for another beer? Who knows? I certainly don’t ! 😉

    • ‘A Gargoyle With His Name On It’… Presumably his name is Cliff Hanger. 😀
      Brave of you to admit that you don’t know what happens next, Sal. Great story, nevertheless.

    • CheffoJeffo says:

      Love the resigned certainty leading right to it, then ?

    • Angelique Pacheco says:

      Great Story Sal! I love the ending. Leaves all of us to imagine our own conclusion to the story. Cool concept.

  15. Ulterior Motive by Steve Lodge
    269 words
    @steveweave71

    Tommy knew the Egg Man mainly by reputation. Nasty bit of work, they said. He’d got busy with his Dad’s business empire, grew it, upset people, some of his associates disappeared. He was a feared man.

    So imagine Tommy’s surprise when the Egg Man comes up to him in broad daylight in Hendricks Road and says,

    “Stop right there, Tommy.”

    “Eh,” says Tommy, all eloquent like.

    “You are standing on the pub’s trap door. Look, here’s a fiver, Tommy. I need you to stand there for five minutes keeping the trap door shut, while I nip down into the cellar and lock it from below. Can you do that, Tommy, can you?”

    “Er,..” Tommy starts.
    “’Course you’d do it for me, wouldn’t you? You know my old man from way back. Have you got a watch? You know what. It don’t matter.” Bla bla’s the Egg Man “You smoke, doancha? Just light up a ciggie, stay exactly where you are until you finish it, then be on your way. I’ll be done by then, OK? Ain’t hard, is it?”

    The Egg Man is gone.

    This is a good dodge, smiles Tommy. Five Pounds for just standing here smoking. That’s a couple of drinks for me later.

    Down the street, a window slides open on the 17th floor of a council block of flats. A rifle with silencer appears, steadies, fires and Tommy slumps to the ground.

    “Clean hit,” the shooter speaks into his mobile phone.

    “Sweet,” replies the Egg Man on the other end of the line. “That distance will be perfect then when you hit our real target.”

  16. zevonesque says:

    The Letter
    A.J. Walker

    The bile rose to his throat, choking him. Something visceral was happening, he couldn’t place it; the letter. Life wasn’t complicated if you stopped to think about it: energy in, energy out. Kill or be killed. Then again it could get complicated. Politics they called it.

    Then there was Laura. That fucked up life more than politics. She didn’t want to kill him of course, or him her and the only energy equation was a different type of in and out. But she fucked his life up in countless ways.

    What they’d had was glorious. They were meant to be. He could live through anything to be with her. They would never be parted.

    Until; until she was gone.

    He’d forgotten about her too many times to join up as the years numbly passed. He never loved again. It couldn’t be recreated, anything else would be a poor copy.

    Then he’d found the letter, between Catch-22 and Tough Guys Can’t Dance on the estranged bookshelf. He recognised her handwriting: Laura. For two weeks he left it on the sideboard by the kettle. He was faced with the question every day: would opening it bring Laura back into his life? He toyed with putting it back between the books. Or in the waste.

    But she was wanted to talk to him. He could feel her ghost in the room. He knew he would open it, eventually.

    She was there as he read it, reading it over his shoulder. The years fell away. His life had been soulless since she’d died. He’d drifted through it. Numb to everything. His life stolen by that accident as much as hers.

    Now he was on the corner of 10th and Maine. He lit another cigarette and looked at his watch. It was almost the time the accident had happened. This was a pilgrimage he’d never been on, perhaps he should have done this before. Her death and his had taken place here. There was nothing to mark it, but his own cigarette ends.

    He took the letter from his pocket and slipped it into the trashcan then walked away. Somehow no longer numb.

    ___
    WC:359
    @zevonesque

  17. @stellakateT
    278 words

    Four Hail Mary’s and a Packet of Crisps

    I glance around the room remembering what Pete had told me.

    “Don’t look around, it’s a right give away”

    He lays a photo down on the wooden table. The table has seen better days. It’s scratched and ring marked with the previous hot cups of tea or coffee. I drink tea.

    “Do you know this man?”

    I look at the photo of my Dad, cigarette dangling from his lips. He looks years older than I remember.

    “No, never seen him before”

    He pushes the photo nearer. This time I look a bit more. See Dad’s clocking the time, trainers not his usual brogues. He’s still wearing the wedding ring ma gave him. I promise God next time I’m in church I’ll say two Hail Mary’s.

    “Are you sure?”

    I nod. That’s another two Hail Mary’s I owe God.

    “What’s he done?” I ask trying not to look too bothered.

    “He’s been found dead”

    He pauses, watching my face. I’m so pleased Pete taught me how to keep stone faced.

    “Never show your emotions. They’re trained at Hendon to read faces”

    The Inspector shuffles the photo back into the folder.

    “Just thought you might know him”

    I shrug.

    “His name is Peter John Clay”

    My father’s name. The Inspector rises from the plastic chair, shakes my hand and reaches for a packet of crisps from the front of the till. I wave away the fifty pence he offers but he insists. Bribery and corruption he laughs wouldn’t look good on his record. I remember what Dad taught me most of all.

    “Trust no one but you Daisy” I want to cry but I will not let my Dad down.

  18. @firdausp
    (360 words)

    Waiting

    Every Sunday I stand in front of the coffee shop and watch him walk down the sidewalk to church. It’s the only day he comes down from his apartment, otherwise he’s holed up for the rest of the week.

    I could go up there, but there are too many memories, so I just wait every Sunday morning precisely at nine to watch him walk by.

    He always wears that suit we bought the first time he got a promotion. It had fit his broad shoulders to perfection. He’d always been a handsome man. My man. We’d laughed so much that day.

    Now it looks two sizes too big, the trousers bunch at the ankles. Has it expanded or has he shrunk.? The years have taken a toll on both.

    He looks more somber, laugh lines now deep grooves around his mouth. But he still has all his magnificent hair. I can almost feel them between my fingers after all these years. Ten years.

    He glances at his watch ever so often. I know the one. It had to be manually wound. He always used to forget to wind it. I had once asked him about it.

    “Why don’t you just buy an automatic.”

    He had looked at me over his cup of coffee, “That’s the beauty of it. I control time. It stops at my wrist and I get to start it again. Fix the hours.”

    “Crazy man,” I’d laughed.

    He had winked and blown me a kiss. I’d pretended to catch it and put it in my pocket.

    Now as I stand in front of the coffee shop my fingers curl over the empty in my pocket. The kisses have all gone; I have been away a long time.

    He walks past me, without a glance. I watch him sadly, as he goes further away. He trips on a crack in the sidewalk and manages to keep his balance. For a moment I have this horrible thought. I see him falling, breaking his neck and dying. I shake away the mean thought.

    He’ll die in his own time and I’ll be there to receive him on the other side.

  19. Time Ghost
    ____________

    The disease of time slowly started to take over his body. It started at his wrist where a pulse kicked like a Swiss watch handcrafted by battling Gods. It began to spread to every part of his being. And every place time went it took something with it: memories, health—a suitcase of hope. As he stood on a forgotten street, time whistled in the main thoroughfare like a killer waiting for a willing victim. Each part of his body started to break off. A piece at a time. Soon all that remained was a ghost of smoke circling snake-like rising from a blown out wish. He moved through life. Passed into solid structures. Was not seen. Eyes paused at his hollow presence and then returned to a pleasant neutrality. And everyone had become an apparition spinning through dreams and work and alcohol and the mechanical rhythm of star-studded sequined defeat. He had cast his spell on the world. A measuring stick to wrap around the sun and strangle the light from its bulging vein. But then he returned to his cage. The body he had left—on the ground—rising in its burial suit. The headstone neatly affixed with sturdy numbers and neat lines chiseled on humanity that created the original wall between people that ticked ticked ticked ticked tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick… who was paying for that?

    _______________________
    (233)

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