Seems Longer

In response to the Holiday Weekend prompt at Writingthe200.

Uncle Kazmo never paid for a meal in his life. Did he never eat out? Did he hold a position of influence or company paid charge card? Was he a revered man with many friends who insisted on picking up the tab? No, no, and most certainly no.

He had 365 fake id’s, one for every birth date that wasn’t his own, staggered in birth years to age him from 14 to 84, and a suitcase of hats, toupees and props lending credibility to his claims. A king of the complementary meal deal, he would drive 50 miles out of the way to take advantage of an offering. Vacations were planned around destinations abundant with free dining promotions.

Life with Uncle Kaz was no picnic. His dithering ways sent Aunt Dee to an early grave. No one knew she was allergic to shellfish until their holiday weekend spent in Oysterville.

‘Remember’, he coached Dee, as the server approached, check in hand, ‘We’ve been married 15 years today.’

‘Seems longer,’ were her last words before swelling up like a Macy’s balloon and expiring into a bowl of chowder while Kaz flashed a forged certificate and dickered over the charge for nuts.



Bea’s Come Back Recital

In response to the Concert prompt at Writingthe200. More or less a follow up on last week’s piece with a slightly longer piece (unposted) in between.Think it works ok on it’s own. Here goes….


Despite the sheer ridiculousness of his sister Bea’s singing acapella renditions of the Monkees’ greatest hits to a room full of half deaf blue hairs accompanied by home care providers who schlepped them and all their life-extending apparatus to this big night out at the Chitty City Senior Center, Dan was unable to heckle to his heart’s content due to his constantly being on the verge of nodding off.

His best bud Devo kept elbowing big Dan in the ribs whenever he started to slump too far over in his uncomfy molded plastic chair.

‘Dude, stay awake,’ Devo muttered under his breath. ‘It’s probably the heat in here making you groggy. It’s like 90 degrees and you’re wearing that trench coat. Take that thing off.’

‘Can’t,’ muttered Dan in response, discreetly opening a flap of the floor length duster to reveal a peek of the polka dot and ruffled ensemble beneath.

‘What is that? Pajamas? Is there a costume party afterward? Are you supposed to be Pagliacci?’

‘Bea made me wear it.’

‘Since when do you let anyone make you do anything?’

‘She found my stash of air horns and twinkies and she’s holding them hostage.’

‘That explains it. Sure.’

Silence on a Sunday

In response to the Silence prompt at Writingthe200.

If there was one thing sorely missing in the house of Sanders it was silence on a Sunday. Such were the thoughts of Dan on his one day off from selling paper maps door to door that no one was buying.

But instead of silence his precious eardrums were being assaulted by crescendoing buzz-saws and weed-wackers of neighbors in all directions, pesky kids laughing until they puked at a some bouncer birthday party accompanied by mariachi music, yapping dogs excited about the prospect of wrapping their flapping jowls around chubby five-year-old legs making way to and from said party.

Add to this the miserable howl of older sister Bea practicing opera to the accompaniment of younger sister June hitting the wrong piano keys. His normal response to his sisters’ attempts at music was to heckle from the dining room while partaking in the snacks he kept hidden behind unused cleaning products, occasionally setting off an air horn, just for kicks.

But Dan was in no mood for such levity. His nerves were so racked by other people’s noise he couldn’t think. Instead he headed out the door to sell some maps. The sound of rejection would be a welcome reprieve.




A Sunday morning quickie before I dash off to work, in response to the Regrets prompt at Writingthe200.

Any regrets about my decision to join the circus as a poop shoveler dissipated at the sight of the fire breathing lady.

Oh, the light that radiated from her flaming lips. Oh, the dreams swirling round her gyrating hips.

She promised a show and her spectacle didn’t disappoint. By the end of her act there wasn’t an unedged seat in the joint.

The line for autographs circled the tent. Cost of admission was agreed to be money well spent.

I scooped up as the domesticateds left the stage, herded back to the bread stocked in each separate cage.

She laughed deep from her throat as she headed for the dressing room to remove snug-fitting sequins and wig and fetch her magic broom.

The house lights went dim and we pulled up the stakes. As we headed for the next town I had fresh dirt to rake.

But first came a note from the lady herself. I was to meet her at midnight so I busied cleaning myself.

Expecting romance I arrived with arms full of flowers to a room full of others enamored by her powers.

My fantasies doused, I took my assignment file, worked on another press release pile.

Jackass Alley

In response to the Deserted prompt at WritingThe200

A century after their ancestors were deserted here on an ill-fated mining expedition, the wild asses of Death Valley Junction roam with slow deliberation in the general direction of whatever is tickling the pack leader’s fancy.

Locals pay them about as much mind as city folk do panhandlers. They’re alright…as long as they ain’t shittin’ all over your property and scavenging after food momentarily left unattended.

Tourists, on the other hand, with their out of state plates, are likely to slam on the brakes, veer off the paved road into a cloud of dust as they hotly pursue a small herd like they were the first ones with the bright idea of snagging an up close photo of a donkey being hand fed from a bag of Cheetos while a straw hat is rested on its head.

The wild burros are used to this, and welcome the opportunity to partake in snack foods, digestible clothing, road maps and whatever other roughage they can wrangle before the visitors realize their folly and beat a hasty retreat.

On opposite ends of jackass alley, gas station mini-marts run brisk business selling replacement items and first aid supplies to folks just passing by.


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.

Lovely Day

My 200 word response to the writing prompt ’21’ at WritingThe200 

Having just turned on the OPEN sign, Cordelia settled in for another day of waiting for walk-ins. A sudden procession of rushing sirens were doing a fine job were wearing down her attempts to stay calm, peaceful and positive.

Refusing to let the commotion outside affect her, she cranked up a go to feel good song, moved to the center of the struggling boutique, and was just starting in on her dance, eyes closed, palms to the sky, when the front door opened.

A man, young enough to have been her child if she ever had one, was radiating fear and panic as he stared her down, gripping a canvas bag in one hand, pointed gun in the other.

Cordelia shook her head as she danced toward the intruder, gestured for him to drop his belongings, placed her hands on his cold cheeks.

For the next two minutes they moved to the music, joined in repeating the chorus, believing the words.

When it ended, he calmly retrieved his bag, placed a stack of bills beside the gun left lying on the floor, and walked away. Peering through cracked blinds, she watched him board the 21 Metro, pushed the replay button.