Basement Regulars

In response to the Divine prompt at WritingThe200

The stained glass windows of Our Sisters of Mercy glow in the setting sun like neon pulling in regulars for another night of bingo.

It’s a varied crowd and it isn’t. Different skin tones, ages, native tongues all riding a tired wave of desperation to turn an investment of a few hours and 20 bucks a card into the chance to be labeled a winner.

Father Bettigan blesses the gathering and apparatus before ceremoniously dropping hollow balls. Sisters navigate the aisles crowded with wheelchairs, walkers and rolling carts of must have belongings, carrying trays of three dollar instant play pull tabs.

There’s a section unofficially reserved for hard core players working 6 cards each, lucky dabbers in ambidextrous hands. The Sisters pass these tables often, between games, while the LED ticker sign blinks the last position called and Father verifies the winning card. Shaky palms pass over the trays to silently divine which ticket may hold fortune.

On nights when the church basement isn’t functioning as a bingo hall, it hosts meals for the indigent and meetings for addicts anonymous.

When the session ends, Father bids each participant a blessed evening, knows he’ll see them next week if not before.

a schmoe at words

In response to the Assignment prompt at WritingThe200


When the average schmoe on the street announces that they do their own taxes, I doubt they are bombarded with tomes of IRS code rulings from well-wishers. Yet confessing that I’ve been writing very short stories has made me the recipient of multiple gifts of Infinite Jest, stacked neatly by my bed, soaking up sun and dander from resident cat attracted to high places.

I blame my therapist for the collection. At our annual catch up visit, she cheerfully said my assignment for the next meeting was to ‘take the plunge, start submitting and calling yourself a writer!’ For a while there I was convinced she did this to ensure that I would visit more frequently due to rejection related depression.

At least I haven’t yet received a reply saying ‘you, sir, are not a writer, and I encourage you to refrain from further submissions.’ My therapist supposedly has such a letter, which she says stung at the time, but which she now takes pride in, both as proof that she tried, and for having personalized signed correspondence on New Yorker letterhead.

So I plug along, accumulating anecdotes for our next session, proof I’m still here, working my short form.


House of Bones

In response to the prompt ‘Enchanted’ (which I misread for ‘Enchantment’) at WritingThe200

When people hear that I grew up in a 19th century farmhouse they imagine enchantment and allure, blissfully ignorant of crooked floors and afterthought plumbing poorly placed, cracked wainscoting that bleeds ants, hornets in the attic and a dirt basement perfect for burying things you’re too embarrassed to throw away.

Night terrors and sleep paralysis I assumed were normal nightmares, I now know were so much more. As if my subconscious mind knew this was no safe place to trust with sleep. For 21 years I walked on broken glass eggshells arranged by parents who despised the reflection they saw in me, spitting image of girls in lace watching from the mantel.

Escape through marriage to the first boy-man who didn’t laugh when he met them, saw from where I came, glimpsed the demons lurking under pretty and asked me anyway.

We ran and ran to the edge of the earth where inhospitable climate proved perfect for shedding skin and deep restful hibernation.

And now, years older, I stand, shovel in hand, ready to toss ceremonial dirt on the plot of my father, ready to return to that house and dig up what’s left of the sisters I barely knew.

Different Directions

Written in response to the ‘Catch Me If You Can’ prompt at Writingthe200, which turns out to be a sequel to the ‘Lovely Day’ response to ’21’. 

Robbing a bank proved easier than anticipated.

Lacking faith in their dim witted friend, Ron and Chi chose to block the inner and outer doors as bad luck Digby approached the tellers.

Deed done, the three scrambled in opposite directions and across the street. Plan was to each hop the 21 Metro bus at different stops, ride to the end of the line where Digby’s beat-up car was waiting.

Ron ran left and Chi ran left. Safely aboard, they exchanged nods as Ron walked the aisle, Chi already seated by the rear exit.  The two exchanged worried looks as Digby wasn’t among the passengers.

They found the car where they left it, owner nowhere in sight, not answering his phone. Assuming the dope must have been caught, they spent the next two days hiding out in mom’s basement immersed in news updates. Gradually it registered that Digby must have gotten away, which was a relief as well as a pisser since he had the money and mom’s boyfriend’s gun.

Digby never intended to ditch his friends. He just got on a bus going in the wrong direction. By the time he realized his error, he felt the lights going on, his luck finally changing.