Flower

“Jesus, could you move any slower?” He yelled back at her, the familiar anger thick in his voice. They’d wandered for hours in an unnamed cave, the maze of dark throats showing no signs of ending. She thought giant burrowing worms must have created them years ago: He knew they were just tunnels. “If it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t even be here,” he said. “Why are you so stupid? So completely and utterly stupid.”

“I’m sorry,” she said, eyes cast to the ground. They found themselves in a cavern; a small reflective pool a table around which three gaping mouths waited. He took the opportunity to wheel on her, forcing her against a wall.

“I wish I had never met you. Nothing has gone right since then. You’re incompetent and ugly. Completely useless.” He wasn’t yelling anymore. He didn’t have to. He turned and walked down the far right mouth, darkness swallowing him mercilessly. She listened as his footsteps faded, leaving nothing but silence. Despite herself, she cried. Just as she knew she would. Just as she always did. She curled into a tiny ball of despair and cried.

“Hey,” a voice called. “Hey, are you ok?”

She looked up, but saw no one. “Hello?”

“Over here.” The voice said.

“Please. Just leave me alone.” She turned quite away.

“That’s kinda hard to do, considering you’re inside me.”

“What?” She looked around with more interest. “Is this some kind of sick joke?”

“The only joke around here was your companion. He seems like a real jerk.”

She remained silent for a moment. “No; he means well, sometimes. He only acts like that when he’s angry. When he’s nice–”

“How often is nice?” The voice interrupted.

“Sometimes.” She said, furrowing her eyebrows. “Who are you anyway? Where are you hiding?”

“I told you,” the voice said. “I’m all around you. I’m the cave you’re in. Are you sure you like that guy?”

“Yes.” She stood up, not believing what she was hearing.

“I don’t see why. You should leave him. Except he sort of already left you…”

“He’ll come back.” She said. “He always does.”

“He always does, or you always do?” Again, she remained silent. “Tell ya what, take a walk with me. I’ll help you out of this cave and by the time you see the sky you’ll be over that dude like birds over land.”

“Really?” She asked.

“For sure,” the voice said, full of confidence. “I can feel it in my bones. Take the tunnel on your left and let us be on our way.”

*Note: Somehow or another this was originally inspired by Xia’s latest single, “Flower”. It’s changed a lot over time, but I’m happy with the way it’s turned out. If you haven’t heard the song I highly recommend it, but be warned: the music video for the single can be shocking to the uninitiated.

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Pharmacy Times (based on a true story)

My coworkers filled up every available seat around the break-room table, chatting about this and that concerning their lives over lunch. Tuning into each conversation at random I caught the tail-end of something promising. “What was that?”

“Destiny?” Joanie asked. “She was crazy!”

“Go on,”

“Oh, she used to work here before you,” Joanie took a bite of her sandwich. “I was just remembering how she got fired.”

“What happened?” I pressed, knowing a good story when it dangled in front of me. My insistence caught the attention of the others and soon the room fell quiet, waiting.

Joanie sighed, pretending to be reluctant; but she set aside a fork and knife in favor of voice, clearly not too reluctant to be the center of attention for a moment or two.

“Destiny was a young girl of about twenty seven. She was nice but didn’t know how to keep her mouth shut. Genuinely a nice girl, but she could run her mouth faster than a jet plane. She was dating this guy, well, more like fooling around really. He had an actual girlfriend on the side you see, but Destiny could care less. When the girlfriend found out about the cheating, as she was bound to eventually, she called Destiny during work and they proceeded to bitch each other out over the phone for a half hour. Later we found out that night Destiny snuck over to this girl’s house and poured sugar in her gas tank. The next day Destiny calls her up and tells her she was the one who did it! Oh yes, the lack of brain cells starts to really come into play here. The arguing, more like screaming really, match between the two over this boy carried on for a whole ‘nother week. Finally Destiny told this girl she would fight her anytime, anywhere. She told her where she worked and said to meet her in the parking lot the dumb ass! Our manager at the time of course knew what was going on and warned her not to bring personal issues onto work property or she would be fired. After some talking Destiny agreed to handle her business elsewhere. The next day another girl who used to work here was walking out to her car and saw Destiny getting her ass kicked in the parking lot by a girl twice her size. Running to her car past the fight she called the manager, who was still in the building. Destiny was fired the next day.”

“Wow,” I said.

“Like I said,” Joanne took another bite of her sandwich. “Nice girl, she just couldn’t watch her mouth.”

“Moral of the story?” I asked.

“If you’re going to fight over a man, which is a useless thing to fight over really, do so down a long deserted gravel road in the dead of night with no witnesses.”

“That doesn’t seem like a great alternative.”

“Least you won’t get fired.”

Only Words

“I met a man.”

“Really? Tell me everything.”

“Well… It was Saturday night,”

“Oh my God! You were at a club, weren’t you?”

“Uh,”

“Oh, I can see it now. The lights are dim, the strobes are high, and there he is. Shirt unbuttoned, sweat dripping, skin glistening. He slowly makes his way across the dance floor, bedroom eyes in full effect, hips─”

“We weren’t at a club.”

“So a coffee shop, right? I can see it now. You’re sitting by the window, the night life outside dewy with rain. Did it rain Saturday night? He walks in, white shirt soaked so every muscular detail shines through. He looks at you, you look at him. He approached your table, hips swaying─”

“Why are you going on about hips so much?”

“It’s been awhile…”

“No hips. None whatsoever.”

“Is there at least a puppy involved? He was walking his new puppy and it got off the leash and ran to you sort of thing?”

“Actually we met through work.”

“Oh, so some secret broom-closet action huh?”

“No.”

“Not at all?”

“It was a business dinner. He’s from the next department over. We sat next to each other and really hit it off. Nothing more happened, but we’re meeting next week for lunch.”

“Can you do me a favor and pay attention to his hips this time, please?”

“I’ll make sure to request he wears a white shirt too.”  

You Can’t Pick Your Family (Based On A True Story)

“Listen Alley,” Wendy tried to sound stern as she straightened her sister’s shirt collar. “Mom had to work really hard to get us into our new school, so don’t screw this up. I’m not changing schools again because you can’t control your attitude.”

“That teacher was asking for it.” Alley pouted.

“And what about the school before that? Do all teachers deserve black eyes?” Alley raised her eyebrows, wondering if an answer was really asked for.

Wendy struggled with life ─ which is to say she struggled with the people in her life. Namely her younger sister, who had a knack for finding trouble where none existed. Thirty detentions, five suspensions, two expulsions, and one assault charge (later dropped) tickled just the tip of the iceberg. “When you get in trouble I get in trouble.” Wendy said. “This is a private school, which means they have even stricter rules than public ones. Just try to behave, ok?”

“What for?”

“For sanity’s sake.” Wendy snapped. “If you last a week without fighting anyone I’ll give you my ice cream money.”

“Deal.” Alley nodded soundly. Shaking hands they departed their room for the kitchen in search of their mother for their ride to school. Unfortunately due to their mom’s infatuation with the “bonafied” garbage man, who always seemed to visit every week for an extended period of time, the sisters arrived late.

Rushing into the building their mom hustled them to the principal’s office. Formalities where quickly swept aside and Wendy waved down the hall as Alley was led in a different direction to a different class. She hoped and prayed for an uneventful first day.

By lunch Wendy had a favorite everything picked out. Her favorite teacher, her favorite subject, her favorite kid she sat next to. She looked around the lunch room and allowed her usual a-little-too-manic-mature self a sigh of relief. Maybe she’d finally found a place she could settle and grow some roots.

A ruckus over her shoulder drew her attention. There it was. The principal she’d only met that morning and who she judged to be a relative stand-up guy clutched her sister’s shirt as she struggled to run away and pummel anyone within arm’s reach at the same time.

He yelled, she yelled back. Wendy sat too dejected to move as the students around her rushed to the scene. She was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her sister swinging around and socking the principle right between the eyes, knocking his glasses clean off his nose, before heads blocked her view. Calmly, fighting tears of frustration, Wendy stood and threw her lunch away before heading to the office. Goodbye favorite everything.

By the time their mother was on speaker phone Alley had calmed down and the principal had on a spare pair of glasses. “Miss, I’m sorry, but we cannot have someone with your daughter’s behavior at our school. With her record it was a miracle we even let her in,” he trailed off, glaring across the desk at the young girl. Alley stuck her tongue out. The conversation went on a bit longer but the outcome was unavoidable.         

Their mom made them walk home as punishment. “I am never giving you money for ice cream. Ever.” Wendy cursed her luck for having a sister such as Alley.

“Could be worse,” she argued. “Mom could always marry that garbage man she’s in love with.”

Wendy had to agree. Thank god that would never happen. (The official dating between Mother and the garbage man began about a month later. Marriage followed shortly after.)

Noona

She was a much older woman, and maybe I liked that. As she walked towards me, seductively stripping off one article of clothing at a time, her eyes in full bed-room mode, I had to admit my heart quickened. But enough was enough.

“Suzee,” I back away rapidly from the advancing woman. “This has to stop. I don’t like you like that.”

“Oh baby,” pouncing forward she grabbed hold of my shirt collar. “Don’t say that. You know you want it just as bad as I do. And I could show you such a good time,” she licked her lips in an exaggerated manner, making me cringe.

“Doesn’t matter,” I tried to gently detangle myself from her grasp. “I’m not interested in older woman.” Honestly that wasn’t the full truth, but it didn’t take me long after meeting the cougar currently pawing at my chest to realize experience comes at a price, usually sanity.

Suzee refused to let go and instead pushed me up against a wall, kissing me long and hard. I struggled to break away and finally caught a breath of air around thick lipstick. Suzee busily unbuttoned my shirt until I tightly gripped her hands in my own. “Listen to me.” I said seriously, looking her in the eyes. “I’m sorry there was a misunderstanding, but I’m not interested in you. Please put your clothes back on and leave my house.”

“Aww baby,” she cooed. “What’s wrong? I don’t bite.” She leaned forward and snapped playfully at my collarbones. I pushed her away roughly, not longer so concerned with treating her like a lady.

“I can’t be with someone as old as you.” I blurted out.

“As old as me?” She scoffed. “I’m barely over… I’m not old.” She snapped in my direction. “You’re hardly one to talk!”

“I’m only – ”

“You’re legal; that’s all that mattered.” Suzee turned away and I sighed with relief until a finger stab my chest. “You know what your problem is? You’re not man enough for me. You’ll see, older women are better. You’ll learn once you grow up.” Turning on her heels she stormed off, picking up each article of clothing she’ d tossed aside on her way to the door. Slamming it shut behind her she cut off her perfume trail, leaving me slightly scratched by her foreplay nails but otherwise no worse for wear.

Sighing fully in relief I sank to the floor, grateful I’d managed to avoid the mauling. I decided from then on to never see a woman old enough to be my mom ever again. It was just too weird. It was like dating the Crypt Keeper or something.

Bazooka 8

I sat on quite possibly the ugliest couch I’d ever had the unfortunate experience of sitting on, next to a beaming bearded man I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable with.

“Hello!” A voice sung. The waitress from the diner twirled out of the kitchen of the quaint house at the end of a block the bearded man brought me to, holding a tray of cookies. Setting the plate before us I leaned in and took a whiff. Yup, freshly baked all right.

“I’m sorry,” I began.

“Don’t be!” The old man slapped me on the back. “It’s not your fault you have such lousy taste in women. You can never tell the difference between the normal ones and the ones carrying an AK-47 in their back pocket, if you know what I mean.” He elbowed me roughly.

“Actually,” I said. “I was going to say I’m sorry I don’t know your names.”

The two looked at each other in surprise. “That’s true,” the waitress said. “We don’t know your name either.”

“Santa is the brand,” the old man reached over and gripped my hand, giving it a good manly squeeze.

“I’m Jezebel, but you can call me Bonnie.” The waitress smiled.

“Mike.” I stated lamely. Taking a bite of a cookie I found it to be delicious. I suddenly became painfully aware I’d missed breakfast and grabbed another. “I didn’t expect to see you two still together.” I said between bites.

“Why wouldn’t we be together?” The waitress asked, sitting in a chair across from us.

“Why are you still together?” I looked between the two with that odd feeling growing in my stomach.

They looked at one another with smiles. They went back and forth in hushed tones. No, you tell him sort of lines. Finally a voice, I can’t remember who it came from, spit it out. “We got married!”

“… What?” The waitress held up her left and, sure enough, a small silver ring glinted on her finger. “It’s been a day,” I managed to get out. “It’s literally been a day.”

“Young love,” Santa smiled. “You know how it goes bub,”

“You’re, like, a hundred years old…”

“We thought it was about time.” The waitress nodded.

“It’s been a day!” I exclaimed.

“A lot has happened,” Santa reasoned.

“You got married!”

“We did,” they cooed in unison, sending each other googly-eyes. I gagged. Santa courteously patted me on the back. “We wanted to thank you for introducing us.” Bonnie continued.

“But enough about us,” he said. “What have you done with yourself all this time?” I raise an eyebrow and ate another cookie, not sure what to say. “Come on,” Santa prodded me.

Sighing, I told the whole story from beginning to end. The chase after the diner blowup, wandering around the city, Shorty catching me, the other Mike wanted for bank robbery, the bounty, and Annette. Silence hung in the air.

“Wow,” Bonnie rested her head in her hands. “That’s so… unfortunate.”

“That reminds me of a story,” Santa chimed in.

“Not now dear, can’t you see Mike needs help?” Santa drew back sullen. Bonnie thought hard. “Why don’t you just catching this man yourself? You don’t have a job;  you could become a bounty hunter!” She sat back, awful proud of herself. I thought and thought and thought about it, staring at the floor in concentration. Santa and Bonnie slowly leaned forward in anticipation. I blinked and looked up.

The front window to Santa and Bonnie’s house exploded in a shower of glass. Through the hail a figure leapt through the opening. A flash of floral yellow gave way to caramel skin. The woman, Annett, hung midair, suspended in time as I gazed up at her. She drew her arm back and slugged me with brass knuckles, knocking me out cold.

Love Letter

I was feeling inspired and wrote an extremely over the top, slightly old-school, love note. Enjoy the cheesiness!     

 

                I think of you again tonight. I could not sleep, for thoughts of you fill my head and drive sleep away with a cruel whip. Darling, how I miss you so. Your laughter, your eyes, the warmth of your hand holding mine. To say you are my sunshine is to say you have my heart, and every day I rise without you seems dark and cold. Seeing your smile fills my heart with pure happiness and devotion. How sad I would be to see a frown! A single tear I could not bear, plunging me into devastation. How are you? How strange it is to be without you by my side. Do you often think of me? You are so different than any man I have known before. You always did look the most handsome in suits. Ah, there is so much to do in your absence, but you have never been far from my mind. If I were to look at a map and measure the distance between us I fear it would seem rather minuscule. I feel so very close to you even when you are not here. To say you care for me more than I you would be a bold lie indeed. This must be love, no other emotion could torture me so with thoughts of us together again. When you return I shall cook a wonderful meal we shall eat together talking the afternoon away just as we did last summer. Hurry back soon so I may see the world around me in the light of day once more.

                Love eternally,