Thursday, March 29, 2012

Write On Edge: Crossing the Line Challenge

This week's Red Writing Hood gives us 450 words to write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about a time someone crossed a line, legally or ethically. The prompt was inspired by laws similar to Florida's Stand Your Ground statute  and the ideas of vigilante justice and citizen's arrests. Frustrated with the justice system, private citizens are individually and collectively testing the waters of taking matters into their own hands. These laws, these groups have met with murmured words of approval and understanding, despite questionable methods and tragic circumstances.

I read this prompt and thought of the times when America was shaped, forged by citizens frustrated with the structure of a government that was failing to meet the demands of her people. We are a rebellious lot, deeply loyal to our convictions and our passion for freedom. In a letter to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson wrote "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."

Sons of Liberty adopted several rebellion flags like this one represented. This one was known to be raised in opposition of the Stamp Act.

I give the following in response: A Little Rebellion

“This meeting can do nothing further to save this country,” Mr. Adams said, crestfallen. His pleas to allow cooler heads to prevail fell on deaf ears.

Thaddeus was swept from Old South in a tide of angry people. Sucking in a welcome blast of December air, he knew the chill could do nothing to curtail the frustrations of his fellow Bostonians. He shivered, not from the stirring icy wind, but from his own bitterness. The Sons of Liberty, most dressed as Mohawks, marched towards Griffin’s Wharf where the Dartmouth, Eleanor, and Beaver lay in wait.

His heart pounding, Thaddeus painted his face and joined their ranks, hatchet in hand. The civil unrest of mobs made him anxious of late. He was just thirteen when Christopher Seider, a German lad two years his junior, was killed by a heartless customs officer. Thaddeus remembered all too well the grizzly scene that followed on King Street when soldiers at the Customs House fired into the gathered crowd, killing three men instantly and inciting a riot. The scent of blood and saltwater lingered at the edge of his nightmares, waking him in a pool of sweat and tangled sheets time and again. This night he banished his fears with the hardened resolve of men twice his age. Governor Hutchinson would have no choice but deliver their message to Parliament. Townshend Acts violated the covenant between the crown and his majesty’s loyal subjects and the time for passive men was disremembered.

They reached the docks in a surprisingly orderly fashion. Thaddeus half-smiled at the familiar sight of the full-rigged ships bobbing in the harbor. The Dartmouth he remembered seeing regularly, as it belonged to a prominent whaling family with offices located nearby. The captain met their boarding party, his face sour and harried. He was caught between the naval blockade keeping the Dartmouth in the harbor and the Bostonians eager for the tea and its levy to disappear.

“Captain Hall, we wish to relieve you of one-hundred-fourteen tea-chests bearing the East India Company hallmark,” stated a demonstrator Thaddeus did not recognize. “Sons, remember, just the tea,” he instructed.

They filed aboard, eager to begin. As sounds of joyous whistles and splintering wood ricocheted about him, Thaddeus hesitated, examining the intricate pattern on the chest at his feet. It seemed impractical aboard the Quaker whaler. A pity to damage this, he thought.

“No time for doubts, Son,” another demonstrator urged him.

The image of Christopher Seider flashed into his mind. Setting his jaw, he smashed the chest’s lock with his hatchet. With the demonstrator’s aid, Thaddeus hoisted the chest righteously over the side and watched the dark tealeaves trickle unfettered to the lapping water below.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Story Dam: Domino Thoughts

This week's Story Dam I incorporated a little into my post for Red Writing Hood, then I decided to give another set of characters a scene of their own. The wet feet portion fits their respective personalities best. We last met Amber and Penny here.

First though, the prompt as follows:

Dam Burst: Write a piece, fiction or non, in which your character suddenly finds themselves somewhere and have no clue how they got there.

Wet Feet: Write a piece, also fiction or non, in which your character goes through a domino thought process.

I offer the following in response: At Grandma's House

“That the paper? Toss me the crossword,” Amber entered the room with pencil at the ready.

Penny shot her twin a look. “Please?” she hinted.

Sagging into their grandfather’s worn armchair, her sister replied with a devilish grin, “You’re welcome.”

Sighing, Penny sacrificed her article as she passed the section over, making a mental note to read the rest later. The sports section stared at her. Touching the color picture underneath the headline, she traced the basketball players absently. Grandda would have read this whole thing once, she reminisced. “Ams, remember how mad Grandda would get when the paperboy threw the paper into the morning glories?”

“No,” she replied dryly. “Okay, eight letters, abandons religious faith.”

“Apostate,” she said, flipping through the sports in the search of something different. “He used to get so angry, that little vein on the side of his head would bulge. Ooh, Macy’s is having a sale,” she announced, reading an ill-placed add.

“When aren’t they having a sale?” Amber rolled her eyes. “Nine, ten, eleven letters for sweet or musical. Melodious?”

“That’s only nine,” Penny answered, “Try mellifluous.”


“No, M-e-l-l-ifluous.”

“Oh yeah,” she erased and brushed the debris away. The pencil scratched the correction as Amber continued, “Why bring up Grandda? He’s been gone forever.”

“Oh the paper reminds me of him. Grams doesn’t even read it I think.”

“No one reads the paper, Penns. That’s what the internet is for.”

Their dad appeared in the doorway. He was still dressed in his fatigues and looked tired around the edges. “You girls okay in here?”

“Yessir,” Amber replied, straightening her back instantly. “Just reading the paper. Penns has the sports section if you want it.”

He smiled and glanced furtively down the hallway. Whispering cautiously, he replied, “Not unless it has the swimsuit issue.”

Penny groaned, “Dad, really?”

He shrugged, “What can I say? I’m a red-blooded U.S. Marine.” He spun on his heel with military precision and disappeared from the doorway.

“Hoorah,” Amber said.

Penny turned to the next page. The tide times were listed alongside an article that discussed the last grunion run. She shivered involuntarily at the memory of standing on the beach one spring, freezing in the ocean breeze, chasing the little fish while the tidewater chased her.

“Five letters: largest artery,” her sister interrupted her thoughts.

Glancing sideways at her, Penny said, “Aorta. Did you want to go?”

She looked about the room before responding, “Go where, Penns?”

“To the Huntington Library, where else?”

She frowned. “Where’d the Huntington Library come from? Study of rock layers?”

“No, the Huntington Library was established by Henry Huntington in 1919. Grandda has a bench there. I just thought…” Penny answered, losing track of her place in the article.

“No, I need a word that means the study of rock layers.”

“Stratigraphy. Didn’t you take geology your freshman year?”

“Yup, I learned that the earth has plates and volcanoes are named for the Greek god Vulcan.”

“Roman god Vulcan,” Penny corrected, without malice, setting the sports section aside and transferring to travel. “So do you want to go or not?”

Amber rolled her eyes, “Greek, Roman, what’s the difference?”

“Don’t ask if you don’t want the answer,” Penny warned. She knew her sister would ignore her after the first sentence. “We could go to the Getty instead.”

Her sister squished her face in response. “You can go to the Getty. I’ll stay here and help Dad dig out the bomb shelter.”

Penny sighed, disappointed. Trying to introduce culture to Amber had always been difficult. She despised still art in any medium and dusty old books never held her fascination, no matter the wealth of information contained within. “Disneyland?”

Amber lit up, “Deal.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Write On Edge: Antihero Challenge

I love a good antihero. Flawed, unscrupulous characters in it for their own glories add spice to just about any story. My favorite antihero? Han Solo (from Episode IV, back when he shot Greedo first).

This weeks Write on Edge Red Writing Hood  Challenge is a generous 500 words (Thank you Cameron) to show an antihero in a character sketch or scene. I thought about some characters I developed last year, and decided to throw the protagonist into a terrifying situation.

I offer the following in response: Trouble in Brasher

The wake of the showdown left the small town of Brasher dazed and disheveled. Patience became aware of a knot forming just above her hairline. “Ow.”

Nathaniel offered a hand up, “Are you injured?”

It hurt to smile, but she did anyway, for him. “I’ve a bit of a lump,” her words tumbled out. “Why are you in the store? Is there something wrong at the forge?”

He frowned, his forehead creasing deeply, “We’re in the smithy, Miss Patience. You and your sister were kind enough to bring me some lunch.”

She felt her checks warm with embarrassment. “Of course, Mr. Pritchard,” she said quickly. “I feel…Where’s Charity?”

He averted his gaze. “They took her.”

She didn’t hear him, not those words. She begged him, terrified. “Mr. Pritchard, please don’t tease. Did she return to the store?”

“Nate, my horse ready yet?” a grizzled voice interrupted them. She spun about, faster than her head wanted her to. He was tall, his features dark and plagued with shadows beneath his wide-brimmed hat.

Nathaniel, her shining knight, stepped up to the stranger and bristled. “In case you haven’t noticed, Jeb, the Lassiers just kidnapped a girl…”

She caught a glint in his eyes that turned her blood to ice. “Not my concern,” Jeb said coldly. “Is my horse shod or not?”

Nathaniel threw up his hands. “Yes, Jee-uh yes. It’s in the corral.”

With her parents off to the fort for supplies, Patience felt responsible. She couldn’t think straight. The decision to run was made before it even entered her thoughts. She bolted for the corral and vaulted over the fence. Grabbing the reins of a saddled horse, she threw herself upon its back.

“Whoa, you stealin’ my horse?” Jeb yelled, appearing out of nowhere.

She paid him no heed and dug her heals into the horse’s sides, pointing it towards the road out of town. Alarmed pedestrians barely got out the way as she galloped by. Panic gripped her throat and drove her blindly on, her helpless, sweetest sister her only thought. She didn’t notice when she first was lost and she didn’t notice Devil’s Ravine looming before her.

It was strong, duster-sleeved arms that tackled her from a horse inches before she galloped over the edge. “You’re crazy. I git that. Whydju steal my horse?”

She saw his face for the first time through a watery veil of tears. Throwing her arms around him, she sobbed into his shoulder. “They’ve got my baby sister!”

 “Now wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute,” Jeb barked, shoving her away. “Do you even know where you’re going? Lassiers ain’t for messin’ with. Go home girl.”

“No!” she pushed him back.

“Fine! Gitjur head blowed off.” His eyes went cold again. “You ain’t my concern.”

“I’ll pay you,” she uttered deperately.


“Nathaniel said you were fearless, an Indian killer,” she begged him.

Derision lost to determination in his expression. “Five hundred dollars,” he said finally. “Now gimme back my horse.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Penitent: Suspicion

continued from The Penitent: At Vespers

The conversation between the crusader and the abbot gnawed at Yven so that his supper refused to settle. William inspired such trust that it was difficult to believe him guilty of an ulterior motive, yet the father was a man of God, representative of His will on earth. What was it about their exchange that bothered him so?

Night had long dethroned the sun and shadows were thick and consuming in the meager-lit hallways. Still, the brothers rose again to their devotions at Vigils, stirring Yven from his slumber. He watched them file out, not a sound made among them save the soft dance of their heavy woolen robes and the scrape of their sandaled shoon against the stone floor. Resting his head back on the buckwheat pillow with the intention of returning to sleep, he was disturbed once again as the crusader rose to follow. 

“Monsieur?” he mumbled as he attempted to swing his legs out from the bed.

William gently pushed his shoulder back. “No need to rise, Master Dubois,” he stated in assurance. “I am simply participating in the office.”

Bleary-eyed, Yven didn’t fight it and he sank into the returning nothingness. He didn’t dream, and didn’t stir again until the Prime bells rang. Brushing the sleep from his eyes, he followed William to the chapel and lost himself to the chant as he had before.

“Well, Lad, are you content to remain with the brothers, or are you keen to join me in Beaucaire?” William asked as the morning office concluded.

“I’m with you,” Yven said. He preferred not to be surrounded by strangers absorbed in silence and prayer.

“Very well, let us leave them to their doctrine.”

The trek from the monastery wasn’t long, but the road was still muddy from the recent storm and they walked at a slow pace. The signs of autumn were betrayed in the landscape as greens escaped their leafy homes in scattered progression. The road looped about like a forgotten ribbon, clinging to the grade. The sun, warm upon the travelers, thawed frozen jaws and lulled them into conversation. Yven found his voice and questions uprooted from his mind, eager for answers. “Why question the abbot about the highwaymen? Surely the brothers have no hand in the attacks.”

The answer came as measured as their steps, “Seclusion is a risky lifestyle, especially so for a man devoted to God. It often leads to paranoia, and worse, complacency. His faith will blind him to danger I fear me, and there are wolves among his flock.”

“Are you so sure then that the highwaymen were local? Could they not have been just a roving band of murderous thieves?”

The crusader stopped, flipping his satchel to the other shoulder. “Anything is possible, but consider this: they attacked at night, on foot, under the threat of severe weather.”

“But to risk a city curfew?” Yven countered, remembering the night he violated a town’s curfew accidentally. It wasn’t a pleasant night and his master made certain that the week was equally difficult. 
“And on foot when the monastery was a half-day’s ride from the ambush.”

He mumbled grimly as they proceeded forward, “Yes, but the monastery has no curfew. By divine edict, they must remain accessible to all pilgrims seeking sanctuary, no matter the hour. And I’d wager your train was the first they happened upon. I’ve witnessed stranger plans executed.”

Cold fear gripped at his heart as layers of doubt and mystery suddenly evaporated. “Surely we would’ve noticed other guests among the novices.”

“And yet we were not offered rooms as travelers, we are granted beds in the novice hall.”

Yven frowned. Why didn’t the abbot offer them lodgings in the outbuildings? “Because the guest rooms were already occupied?” he queried slowly.

“And there are a number of horses stabled there that have expensive tack,” he said as they approached the imposing gate to Beaucaire. “Hardly fitting for impoverished monks.”

Mulling it over, Yven let his eyes wander the formidable wall, no doubt expertly laid by master freemasons many years ago. Guards were posted at the gate, one with an official-looking badge of office proudly draped across his shoulders. Suddenly, Yven panicked. He never had to handle a checkpoint on his own. He fumbled for his writ of business, unsure if it was even valid anymore.  

“State your name and your business please,” the officer commanded.

William responded, “William leSaber, with my charge, young Master Yven Dubois. We seek an audience with the Triviot family. We have news from Acre.”

Yven, relieved, shoved the partially drawn documents hastily into their pouch.  He liked the sound of charge. It seemed so much more noble a title than apprentice ever did. He straightened his back and attempted to appear as imposing as his benefactor. He kept pace with him once through the gate, following the directions to the Traviot manor.

Monday, March 12, 2012

On Dogs (or more specifically) Dog Owners

My parents are victims of ongoing, torturous, covert-operative styled psychological warfare.

Let me provide a little background. My parents have lived on the same corner of their neighborhood for thirty-five years. Their next-door-neighbor has been there even longer. The Neighbors are lovely, elderly, and unfortunately sickly people. Their newly turned adult adopted-from-foster-care son isn't elderly, sickly, nor particularly lovely. He used to be. As a kid, he was full of hope and promise. He just wanted to be loved and accepted. Now, he's quite the uncaring, insensitive, impolite, chip-on-his-shoulder punkhead.

Punkhead is the owner of a dog that he does not exercise responsibility for. He doesn't clean up after it, show it attention, or see to it that it isn't a neighborhood terrorist engaging in psychological warfare operations. Every night, and I do mean every night, the dog barks. And barks. And barks. And barks. Where it barks is on the other side of the "tweener" fence of the property, and a stone's toss from my parents' bedroom window.

So my parents are sleep deprived and at the end of their extremely lenient rope. Fed up with "please" and "thank you" falling on the Punkhead's deaf ears, my dad warned the Neighbors that he was going to report Punkhead to Animal Control: a decision that I guarantee was not made lightly.

Now my parents are animal people (my dad more so than my mom, but animal people nonetheless) and they have always been okay with pets, provided that owners of said pets actually care for their animals. Cats shouldn't be left to wander the outside world so that they "do their business" in my mother's rose beds. I'm sorry if that offends anyone, but think about it. Cats are fastidious creatures. When left to their own devices, they don't poo where they eat. They poo in my mother's rose beds. This is not pleasant for my mother, who by the way is legally blind, when she is weeding. It's rude, people. It's like leaving behind your child's used diaper. Keep your cat indoors and off the streets so they don't get hit by cars or get carried off by owls. And for heaven's sake, keep your cats from using the entire world as their litter box. It's not cute. It's rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. Take responsibility for your animal.

The cat rant over. Back to the dogs.

Dogs may be part of the family, and may even be a replacement for children in the lives of some. I get it. I do. We've owned dogs during my entire childhood. Not just one dog, multiple dogs. There are some things I need to point out however. Dogs are not humans. They do not possess human traits or emotions. Treating them like they do is unfair to dogs. They do not belong in grocery stores, department stores, shopping malls, or bookstores while on the family shopping spree. Not only is it illegal (it is at least a misdemeanor violation of the health code that any police officer worth his badge will write a ticket for), it's potentially hazardous for your pocket book. This world is sue-happy. You have no control over the situation and you have no idea how strangers will react to your dog, or how your dog, who has a pack animal instinct, will react to strangers. If your dog bites someone, or causes them any emotional trauma, you are liable. You can be sued and Animal Control and the prosecuting judge can insist that your animal must have a muzzle and must be confined. Your home-owner's or renter's insurance premiums can and will increase if it becomes known that your dog bit someone. Some insurance companies will even drop you altogether. Your dog can stay at home unattended for two hours. Do not bring it shopping with you. I'm not being mean, you're being rude, crude, and socially unacceptable.

If you take a dog for a walk, do not let it poo without cleaning it up. Do not let it whiz on other people's property. I hark back to leaving a dirty diaper behind. My mother is blind, people. She can't see it and she'll step in it. Even urine is disgusting. If one dog does it, all the other dogs have to do it too. Twenty dogs in an afternoon can make a fence post smell like a pound. One afternoon. Let me reiterate, it's not cute, it's disgusting. Take responsibility for your animal.

Now, before I get even further off topic, barking. Incessant barking is a nuisance and more than likely is a gross violation of your city's ordinances and/or your HOA rules and regs, and not to mention, is rude, crude and socially unacceptable. It is also a behavior that has a simple fix. A little training goes a long way to ensure that your animal isn't being a terrorist to your next door neighbors. They make non-lethal bark collars now, which is a good investment for a bark-prone breed. If you check with your local kennel club or even a place like PetSmart, they will help you find an inexpensive CGC (Canine Good Citizens) trainer and tester in your area, which can help keep your animal healthy, happy, and your insurance premiums low. If you're going to have a dog, take and stick to this pledge. If you're going to let your child have a pet, teach him responsibility for his animal. If you don't think you'll be able to follow these rules, don't get a pet!

Come on, we all have to share this planet. Do not think that the rest of us want to deal with your undisciplined creature simply because you think it's furry and cute. I promise you, I will not be as lenient as my parents have been. I will sick my hawk on your dog if my mother steps in poo or whiz.

Okay, that might be harsh. But you've been warned. Ain't no one gonna do my momma that'a'way.

Seriously though, visit the AKC website and investigate the breed of your dog. Find an animal that will be best suited for your situation. A well-informed pet owner will ensure that the pet is healthy and happy and valued. Invest in your pet's life and future and get CGC certification. I guarantee you will be happier for the effort.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Losing Time

The issue with unemployment: I barely know what day it is. All my weeks are blurring together. The hours of searching for a job coupled with the hours I devote to writing are taking their toll. There are still not enough hours in my day.

And I woke up today blindly playing Tetris with the green numbers on the cable-box clock to discover my day just got shorter.

Don't get me wrong, I knew Daylight Savings Time was near. I knew this because it's been a-buzzing over the interwebs. I knew this because my parents mentioned it last Sunday as I was leaving for home. I knew this because I eavesdropped on a conversation at the movie theater yesterday. I knew this because Karma hasn't an inkling of a sense of humor and she has a tendency to kick you when you fall. Repeatedly.

But I woke today, later than I wanted under normal circumstances, and now even later than I thought I was. Blarg!

As much as I admire Benjamin Franklin for his indisputable contribution to the world, every year when spring ahead springs, I find myself loosing some of that admiration. I have never been an "Early to Bed, Early to Rise" individual. Benji, I know you wanted to give farmers that extra hour to get to market, but really? This is one idea you could've kept to yourself.

That aside, I wish everyone a Happy Lose-an-hour-of-happy-hour Day!

On a separate note, please sing It's A Small World sometime today in memory of the late Robert Sherman. I will be taking a Spoonful of Sugar and seeking Just the Bare Necessities in my missing hour as I Fly a Kite in your honor. Requiescat in pace.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Story Dam: So Done

Okay so I've said it before: I'm addicted to writing prompts. Through others, I have come across Story Dam and I have been haunting that site for a few weeks to get a feel for the community. Well, this week I've decided that it's time to cast aside my ghostly cloak-n-dagger foolishness and actually participate. A generous 750 words (yea!) is allocated for these prompts which brings with it a unique set of challenges.

This week's Story Dam Challenge is themed as follows:

Dam Burst - Write a piece in which you or your character takes a stand and then takes action. SHOW US YOU MEAN BUSINESS!  
Wet Feet - You may not be an Alpha male or female, but you still have a boiling point. If taking a stand is too far outside of your comfort zone, write a short story in which your character is reaching the end of their rope. (NOT literally… please…unless you must…) Be sure to work extra hard on your character’s feelings, emotions, and the physical breakdown caused by them.

I offer the following in response: Jungle Fevered

Everything baked in the afternoon sun as invisible waves of heat distorted her vision. Ivy, sick and dismayed, gripped her camera. Butchered corpses, animal and human, lay intermingled in the village square; the sweet, sticky smell of blood clung to the heavy equatorial air. She stood frozen in the sea of death, fighting tears and the urge to vomit. Slowly, she adjusted the lens, swallowing the lump in her throat. Her finger twitched and the shutter fired as rapid as an automatic rifle.

Broken familiar faces had met their demises with terror and pain. The spark of life was long departed from their dull eyes, their mouths trapped in the last words of their screams. Through the lens she spied Etsula, her little hand still gripping tightly to the cornhusk doll Ivy had given her only a week ago. 

“No,” she whispered, willing the nightmare to end, no longer able to contain the tears. “Who murders children?”

“This is the work of Tobago,” a deep voice rang out as a man emerged from the surrounding jungle. He sported army fatigues, but the pack on his back wasn’t military issue and neither was the double-barrel shotgun slung across his shoulders. “You hurt, Lady?” he asked, his tone lacking the concern his words implied.

“No,” she ventured hesitantly, unsure of his intentions. “I wasn’t here when…when this…”

He nodded, slowly approaching. “Name's Mitch. You Ivy Tanner, that reporter they were looking for?”

Her stomach lurched into her lungs. Was she the reason the whole village was massacred? Ivy dropped to her knees, no longer able to stand under the crushing weight of her emotions. “God,” she uttered. “Forgive me.”

“Look,” he rushed the last few steps to fetch her up. “I don’t mean to be an ass here but we’re too exposed. Tobago doesn’t abandon a hill he’s conquered. He’ll have men around here still.”

She held the unseeing gaze of the sweet little girl not even old enough to understand the evil that brought an end to her simple world. “This was my first foreign assignment,” she said, her voice broken. “My first and I br-brought doom to…”

The chopping sound of an approaching helicopter echoed in the distance. He grabbed her arm and dragged her to the undergrowth. “You didn’t do this,” he growled. “The devil did. We’ve got to get to that to that landing strip.”

Adrenaline kicked in, moving her legs when her heart couldn’t bear to leave. She ran after him across the jungle floor. The helicopter was uncomfortably loud even muffled from the leafy ceiling. Mitch gave it little pause, moving like a jaguar through the vegetation. She stumbled, a stick lacerating her leg, but she pressed onward as the distance between them grew rapidly.

Ivy tried to get her bearings as she lost sight of him completely.  Her leg throbbed, distracting her concentration. She chided herself for being a clueless reporter lost in the middle of the jungle without a survival kit. She crouched near a massive tree trunk, wondering how sensible it was to hide when she had no idea where she was.

The helicopter eventually moved on, the percussive din dissipating rapidly. A chirp of her camera indicated imminent power down due to exhausted batteries. She didn’t have time to react, freezing at the sound of nearby gunfire. Peering out behind her trunk, she caught Mitch winning a standoff. Believing the coast was clear, she ran to him.

Someone grabbed her. She felt a blade’s cold sting at her chin. Mitch was instantly boxed in by materializing guerillas, and he looked pissed. Her camera bag was stripped from her shoulder as her captor threw her forward.

“Batteries dead,” said the man with her camera.

 She made eye-contact with Mitch, willing an apology to be silently communicated in the gesture. Without warning, he took them all out, catching a bullet to his shoulder during the blitzkrieg of gunfire. She stood awkwardly, moving slowly in comparison to her savior, who had already looted a couple of his victims and was ascertaining the condition of her camera. “How did you…?” she breathed.

“Later,” he answered. “Here’s the SDcard?”

“Thanks,” she said, securing it in her pocket.

“Now let’s get you to that chopper.”

“Your shoulder,” she started.

“Isn’t important,” he cut her off. “Right now, your pictures are the only hardcore evidence we’ve got against Tobago. I want to bring him down, don’t you?”

She abandoned her protest and they raced to the rendezvous.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Write On Edge: Birthday #1 Song Challenge

Nancy for Red Writing Hood gave instructions to go to the site "This Day In Music" and write a 300 word-limit piece inspired by the #1 song from the day of our birthday, or our characters' birthday, or other important event, in loving memory of the late Davy Jones. May he rest in peace.

Nancy gave further instructions that there was to be no grumbling.

So, in order to refrain from grumbling, I opted not to use my birthday. Most of the music I'm familiar with has origins prior to the year 1946, which is when the website in question begins its charts. (At least I proved unsuccessful in reaching any year prior to that.) So, I'll admit I cheated a little bit. I found a band I was familiar with (the Carpenters) and chose a song I like (Top of the World), and ended up with December 1st, 1973.

 Now I'm adding an "in memory" to Karen Carpenter, RIP, and David Ben-Gurion, RIP.

I offer the following response: Cold Case

 “Did you find anything?’ Christie asked.

Alan shook his head miserably. His eyes ached from the hours of library microfiche. “The Carpenters were number one with ‘Top of the World’. The White House theater played ‘The Last of Sheila’ for Nixon and former president Eisenhower. David Ben-Gurion died at 87. Nothing about a mother and her newborn girl found abandoned on a sail boat in Lake Eerie.”

She moved close to him, invading his space to view the screen, and his thoughts colored instantly with temptation. Her sinfully pouting lips were dangerously close. His fingers twitched, straining against the urge to slide into her strawberry-blonde hair as it cascaded untamed about her shoulders. Lost in the moment, he only partially heard her response. “-old fisherman was senile or something.”

He closed his eyes, willing himself out of the clouds. “I don’t think so. He knew things, like the ceramic frog in the cabin for Pete’s sake.”

She pulled away, sitting back in the library chair. “That doesn’t explain why your mother was on a boat at nine months.”

“Dad said the baby was due on New Year’s. She believed she had another month. He couldn’t keep her off the water.”

“And that man swears he delivered a baby on the Leaky Swan?” her bright eyes lost luster as her expression blanched. “Saturday, December 1st, 1973?”

He nodded, “He claimed he remembers because Stan Stasiak beat Pedro Morales to become WWF champion. He offered to help her back to shore, but she refused.”

“And authorities never found any bodies?”

“Nope, just an empty boat almost two months later.”

“Don’t worry, Alan,” she said, lightly touching his wrist. “If they’re out there, we’ll find them.”

He drank the hope in her words, “After fifteen years? I love you, your optimism, I mean.”

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Penitent: At Vespers

continued from The Penitent: Abandoned

William knelt in prayer at the statue of the Virgin Mary while the Benedictines were at Vespers, their chant echoing through the cavernous space.  As voices intermingled, divorced, and regrouped about him, Yven lost himself in the din, unable to discern which sound belonged to which brother. For a blissful moment, his mind wandered through the tones and away from the bleakness of reality. The rhythm gave order to his chaotic thoughts and with it a sense of purpose. When the chant faded from the memory of the archways, fear drifted into his bones once again. He missed routine and longed to hear the brutal words and the physical sting of his master’s abuse, for it would mean that he was safe from change and his future certain.

After service concluded, a brother guided them to the office of the abbot, a decaying, crooked codger with bright blue eyes and a caring smile. “Now, how can my office serve you?” he asked, his wisp-like voice crackling with the strain of age.

“I am recently come from the Holy Lands with intent to return some items to the Triviot family, Father Abbot,” William stated, leaning forward in his seat. “I was instructed that they resided in Beaucaire and I wondered if you knew where I should begin my search.”

The old man tapped his chin, “Traviot, you say? Their patriarch, Dannel, took ill with fever and as of yet, isn’t recovered. May I assume then, if you are delivering personal effects, that his son Mattieu is…”

William nodded, but offered nothing further.

The color faded from the abbot’s eyes as fast as his smile. “Ah, God have mercy on his soul,” he crossed himself. “We’ll include him in the book of the dead. Brother Xavier will be deeply saddened to learn of his cousin’s death. They were quite close in their youth. The Traviot manor is up the road from the smithy once you are within the town’s defensive gate.”

The crusader didn’t allow silence to cripple their conversation, moving quickly on to other concerns. “I should inform you that we ran into some trouble with highwaymen the morrow yester. They traveled light, and as there was no indication of another camp in the area, I have to assume then that they are local. Their organization also implies that there may be more of them.”

“Quite distressing,” the abbot said, clasping his hands together. “We have been left undisturbed in our solitude. If your suspicions are correct, these fiends must respect the church. Perhaps if they are local as you claim, they do not wish to be recognized by the brothers?”

“Do you have a place to go if violence should find you here? I’m concerned for the safety of your order.” Unease was evident in William’s voice, but Yven thought there was something else driving his inquiry. He wanted to interrupt, to ask why, but he let his question go unspoken. Habit was comforting, and his suspicions remained concealed within his gut.

A tunnel through the wine cellar led to safety, or so the abbot explained hesitantly. “Since our charter, we’ve only seen the need to use it once. Few save our holy brothers remember its existence.”

The soldier nodded, seemingly satisfied, and pushed on with his next request. “We will need lodging for the night, perhaps for the morrow as well. Would it be possible to board here?”

Father Abbot frowned, his wrinkled-face a wash in seriousness, “So long as you do not mind a bed with the novices, or distract them from their office, you may stay until your mission is concluded.”

“That is most agreeable, we thank you,” William said, rising. He offered a few coins from his purse, “For your generosity and your inconvenience, both.”

“This will help a great many people, God bless you.” The old man rose with the caution of his age and shuffled to the door, “We dine simply here and will have supper within the hour. You will join us, I must insist.”

“We will indeed, thank you Father Abbot.”  The crusader replied, signaling for Yven to follow.