Yung Luv’

“I don’t think he’s going to call me EVER.”

“Probably not. I don’t see you as a pair.”

“What does THAT mean? I thought you said he likes me?”

“Yeah, but not in THAT way.”

“Why not?”

“How the hell should I know?”

“I thought he was your friend.”

“He is but, believe it or not, we talk about other stuff. We don’t talk about you.”

“You’re mean.”

“No. I’m honest. I’m just telling you like it is.”

“Does he have a girlfriend now? You said he doesn’t have a girlfriend.”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so, but I’m not with him 24/7. Why don’t you just go find something to do and forget about Keith?”

“I can’t ‘forget about Keith’. I’m in love.”

“Oh god. Again?”

“Kids! Supper!”

“Let’s go in. Mom hates it when supper gets cold.”

What are you kids doing, anyway?”

“Brenda is in love again,” Ryan pulled the bar stool away from the breakfast bar in the kitchen where they ate their meals.

“Oh. Well, it’s to be expected.”

“What do you mean, mom? You’re as mean as Ryan.”

“Honey, you’re fifteen. You’re just boy crazy.”

“That’s not fair! I really LOVE Keith. He’s THE ONE I want to spend my whole life with. Didn’t you and dad meet in high school?”

“You really want me to repeat THAT story?”

“You loved each other, right?”

“Yeah, for a while. But then we didn’t love each other any more…”

“Why did you stop loving dad?”

“Honey I don’t really want to talk about it. It’s over, in the past, we’ve worked out a way we can be here for you, sometimes that’s the best two people can do. Your dad is happier with Cynthia than he ever was with me.” Mom shrugged.

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“OK, Brenda, I’ll lay it all out for you. When we’re young hormones rage through our bodies…”

“Everyone blames ‘hormones’. This isn’t ‘hormones’. It’s love.”

“OK, but you asked a question, and I’m trying to answer it. Your dad was cute, I was cute. We were propelled by higher forces toward each other and there was Ryan, so we had to get married.”

“You weren’t even MARRIED when you made me?” Ryan almost tipped over his barstool, laughing.

“No, we weren’t married. It made things very very difficult. I had to drop out of school to have you. Your dad had to go to work while he finished school. We weren’t kids any more. Life changed from one thing to another thing, a very serious thing.”

“Why didn’t you use a condom?”

“Buying a condom in those days was embarrassing. You had to go to the drug store and ASK for one.”

“Huh?”

“Listen, kids, the world doesn’t stay the same. Something changes every day. Anyway, as time went by, I got my GED, dad went to community college, Brenda came along, we got a house, and, sometime in there, we realized we had nothing in common. Your dad was already sleeping with Cynthia. He didn’t want to break up our family, but… So, Brenda, when I say ‘hormones’ I mean ‘hormones’. When I see your dad now I wonder what I was thinking. In fact, I wasn’t thinking.”

“There you go, Brenda. If Keith isn’t calling you, it’s not because he doesn’t like you. It’s because his hormones don’t.”

“Pretty much,” said Mom. “You want more Tuna Helper?”

Overheard

“He said he’d call.”

“They ALWAYS say they’ll call. That’s their way of saying they’ll never call.”

“But I thought he liked me.”

“Didn’t you and I go see that movie, He’s Just Not All That Into You? That wasn’t based on fantasy, Doris. If he doesn’t call right away, he’s ‘just not all that into you’. Forget about him. Move on. There are other fish in the sea and another one will be by in 20 minutes.” Trina laughed.

“Very funny. You HAVE a boyfriend. In fact, everybody has a boyfriend. Everyone but me.”

“That’s true,” Trina acknowledged. “Stop checking your phone!!!”

“I was checking the weather.”

“We’re OUTSIDE idiot! You’re IN the weather!”

“Doris? Is that you?”

She turned around to see a skinny, bespectacled man in a white polo shirt and black jeans.

“Frank?”

“You remember me!” The man’s face turned bright red.

“How could I forget,” Doris’ voice was flat. This was the last person she ever thought she would see again or wanted to see again.

“I think about you all the time,” he said, blushing a second time.

“Oh.”

“Do you think about me?”

Doris shuddered inside. “Frank, it’s really nice to see you, but we’re in a hurry.” She grabbed her friend’s arm and started walking down the street as if they had somewhere to go.

“What was that?”

“High school.”

“High school?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Is he???”

“I said I don’t want to talk about it.”

HIM????

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/05/19/call/

Party On

“Babe, let’s go home.”

“But I’m having fun. You never want me to have fun.” Cora’s eighth apple cinnamon martini sloshed over the glass. OO7 she wasn’t.

“Cora, sweetheart, your left tit is just about outside your dress. Your lipstick is smeared down to your cleavage. I’ve had to hold your hair back three times. The heel broke off your shoe when you fell down the stairs, seriously, hun, it’s time. How is this fun?”

“Go home by yourself.”

A lightbulb lit in Travis’ mind. “You got it, sweet cheeks,” he thought.

He made his way through the crowd of guests all in various stages of inebriation, and opened the front door. The night was cold and clear. The sky held the infinite promise of the Milky Way.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/03/02/rdp-monday-slosh/

Shaving

“What if I shaved it off?”

“Your moustache?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s your moustache.” She shrugged, pulled her turtleneck over her head then pawed around the bed to find her glasses.

“I’m going to do it.”

Marcy went to the kitchen and made coffee. This was one hell of a hangover. Saturday nights were wildly fun, but this was a pretty high price to pay. It wasn’t long before the coffee was ready. She filled a cup for her and a cup for Paul.

“Marcy?” Paul called out from the bathroom.

“Yeah?”

“Come and see. I want to know what you think.”

She took both cups to the bathroom. “I made you coffee.”

He was turned away from the door, facing the shower wall.

“Paul?” He turned around slowly.

“Well?”

Marcy set down her coffee and looked thoughtfully at Paul. He was — had always been — one of the handsomest men she’d ever seen. Lapis eyes, brown hair, warm and friendly smile, strong chin. Until this moment, he’d also, always, in her life, anyway, worn the heavy moustache of their time in history. Without it?

He looked at her as if he were a child looking for approval. She wanted to cradle him in her arms, tell him everything would be all-right forever, erase all his doubts with a certainty that existed no where on earth.

“Well?”

“It looks good, Paul.”

“You hate it.”

“No, no, not at all. I like it. It’s good.”

“What does ‘good’ mean?”

Marcy sighed. “Paul, if you don’t like it, you can grow it back.”

“See? You hate it.”

Marcy understood then that HE hated it.

She went home. She was dehydrated from drinking and dancing the night before, exhausted and psychologically worn. This whole day would be given over to recovering enough to go to work on Monday. A shower helped clear her brain and she thought…

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/02/23/rdp-sunday-moustache/

Catalogs

“Hi babe. Whatcha’ got?”

“Seed catalog. It’s my first one EVER. I feel so grown up!”

“Uh, that’s not your name,” said Josh, looking at the mailing label. “I think that’s the people who lived here before us.”

Spring was still a long way off, but the catalogs arrived well ahead of time to prime the atavistic urges of the snowbound denizens of the far north. Kira took off her boots and set them by the door.

“It doesn’t matter. We’re here now. We have our own house, our own yard, maybe a garden in summer. This proves it!” Kira held up the catalog with it’s WAY too brightly colored flowers and photo of bi-colored corn on the cover. “Isn’t this pretty? We can grow corn!!!”

“‘If you build it…'”

“What?”

“Never mind. Whatever you want honey.”

Josh was thumbing through a catalog that had arrived at the same time, one that also had the previous occupant’s name on it. In it was the photo of a shiny, new, rototiller. Bright red handles and bright sharp blades. A chill went down Josh’ spine. “I don’t want to think that,” he thought, shaking the disturbing image from his mind. He turned the page and there was a beautiful, big chain-saw. “Good god,” he thought. “Is that how I really feel about Kira?” He set the catalog down on the coffee table, but the images persisted. He got up, took the catalog and threw it into the recycling in the kitchen, but the disturbing pictures remained in his imagination.

“Is this what I’m REALLY like?” his heart beat 100 miles an hour. “I LOVE my wife!”

The kitchen recycling can was clearly not going to do the job. He took the catalog out to the alley and lifted the lid on the big recycling bin, but as he was about to toss it in, the neighbor two houses down started up her chainsaw, the little one she used for cutting branches.

“I’m a homeowner now. I’m going to need this stuff.” He looked around the neighborhood. Sam had rototilled his yard last year. There was Mrs. Jamison, using a chain saw to cut back her lilac bush. This wasn’t about Kira. This was necessary to maintain the value of his property. He wasn’t evil to want power tools. No.

He stood in the alley and thumbed through the catalog again, this time a large vice caught his eye. He saw Kira’s narrowing head and bulging eyes. “Do Mrs. Jamison and Sam have thoughts like these?” He dropped the catalog into the cavernous realm of the recycling bin, and as he did, he saw Kira rotating wildly in the garbage truck’s hungry maw.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/02/01/rdp-saturday-spring/

More Things Going Bump in the Night

“Jordan, sweet boy, I”m right here. I’m right here. Tell me about your dream.” Tom lifted the little boy out of his crib. Jordan needed to have his crib converted to a toddler bed, but Tom had put it off. “I’ll do that tomorrow,” thought Tom, holding his son to his shoulder. Jordan’s sobs slowly subsided and he put his thumb in his mouth.

“Look under the bed, sweetheart,” he said to Miranda. “See if there’s a door.”

“I might not be able to see it, Daddy, if it’s Jordan’s door.”

“Good God. You can’t expect me to believe that trolls have some kind of exclusivity in the construction…” he stopped. He was talking to his five-year-old daughter, not arguing with his wife.

Just then Joan’s nurse — a brisk, cheerful Filipino woman — came out of Joan’s room.

“She’s sleeping, sir. You want I go home?”

“Yes, Blessica. Thank you again.”

“What wrong with Jordan?”

“Bad dream.”

“Those duendes, they…”

“What? Duen… WHAT?”

“Bad men come in the sleep. Maybe live in this house a long time.”

“We built this house, Blessica. Just three years ago.”

“That doesn’t matter to duende Mr. Tom. The world is older than your house. Who knows about the ground you built your house on?” Blessica shrugged.

“Trolls, daddy. I told you.”

“Night horse,” sighed Blessica. “All the children have them. Maybe closer to old times. We grown ups? We far away. You want me stay, Mr. Tom?”

Suddenly Tom felt totally overwhelmed. How in the world had his life gone sideways like this? A wife with a fragile brain. Her Filipino nurse offering to spend the night to protect them. Trolls building doors under the beds of his children. His little boy crying on his shoulder. His little girl giving him advice — from direct experience — about supernatural beings that lived under the ground and invited children from the surface to tea parties.

“Blessica, take the guest room for tonight. I’ll pay you to stay in case…”

“OK, Mr. Tom,” she said.

“…something happens, and this is more than a nightmare, my wife…”

“I understand, Mr. Tom. I will go get my overnight bag from my car.” As a mental health nurse, Blessica was always prepared.

***

Here is a link to all the other five episodes of this saga… Backwards, unfortunately…

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/11/04/rdp-monday-duende/

Professional Jealousy

Warning: somewhat raunchy

“You got it! The whole thing. Windows facing the ocean. A desk as large as a skating rink. A parking space next to the elevator. And this cushy job. Way to go, Babs.”

“Don’t act like it’s gift from Santa or something.” The leggy blonde tossed her mane of shining champagne hair over her shoulder. “I worked and sacrificed for this.”

“We all do, for whatever we get,” sneered Ken. “Some of us sacrifice more than others.” Behind Ken’s bright white smile was a well of resentment. “I just wanted to be the first best-selling male doll. Look what I had to give up.”

“Ken, you didn’t ‘give up’ anything to become the first best-selling male doll. It’s the REASON there wasn’t one before you.” She tapped a pencil on her desk in disgust. “You know perfectly well that the developers couldn’t figure out the paradox. Should little kids see, you know, or should they just make you without, well, you know, the way they did. What man wants even to imagine the absence of, well, you know, even on a 12 inch plastic…”

“Why do we always have to go THERE?” asked Ken.

“YOU went there. I didn’t. This was supposed to be MY little celebration, just me and my best pals and a bottle of Dom Perignon. Why do you always do this? Turn everything to you and your…”

“Because he’s a conceited solipsistic jack-ass,” answered Joe. “Babs is right. Once you came out of production, the rest of us couldn’t have…”

“This isn’t about you, Ken, or you, Joe. Your stupid frat-boy complaints have no currency here. You’ve seen my new office, and now you two need to get out of here and get back to work.”

“Dammit, Babs…”

“I hate that, Joe. You know perfectly well what my name is. Babs. Really. Close the door on your way out.”

When they were gone, she poured half a bottle of champagne down the sink in the marble and gold executive bathroom adjoining her office. “Men,” she sighed, “or something.”

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/11/02/rdp-saturday-cushy/

Rock On

“Dad?”

“What?”

“Remember the trolls?”

“Miranda, honey, I will never forget the trolls. Why?”

“They want to meet Jordan.”

“I don’t think your mother can go through this again, Miranda. She’s very fragile now, you know. She’s only been home from the hospital a few months.”

“I know. I told them that Jordan is still a baby and can’t even walk that good, but I wanted to let you know in case…”

“Miranda you never told me much about these trolls.”

“There’s not much to say, Daddy. They’re just rock people.”

“‘JUST rock people’? Miranda, that makes no sense to me.”

“Weren’t there trolls in your day? They told me they’ve been around as long as the sky and the planets and the sun and the stars.”

“I’m sure if they’re rock people that’s true, but…”

“Haven’t you ever talked to a rock? I talk to rocks all the time.”

“Miranda, you’re five. Five year olds talk to everything all the time. It’s part of being five. It’s not part of being a daddy. Daddys who talk to rocks, well, Miranda, it usually doesn’t end well.”

“But daddy, you told me rocks are in EVERYTHING. They’re in my crayons and clothes and even in me!”

“That’s true, sweetheart, but usually they don’t build secret doors under a little girl’s bed.”

“I didn’t know that, Daddy. I thought that was part of growing up, like a loose tooth. If there’s a tooth fairy and Santa Claus, why not trolls?”

Tom closed his laptop, recognizing that this was an important moment in the life of his little girl and how he dealt with it would affect her life forever. The long litany of life’s disillusionment sped through his mind. He sighed. “Come here, Miranda,” he said, lifting his little girl up on his lap. “I confess, Miranda, I don’t understand the story of the trolls. I don’t know what happened that night other than your mother and I were terrified we’d lost you forever. When the police officer said it happened all the time — little girls disappearing behind tiny doors built under their beds — well, it really didn’t help. How could such a thing happen?”

“Simple, Daddy. The trolls came up from the middle of the earth and opened the door. Those doors are everywhere. We just can’t see them most of the time. Are you going to tell me there’s no Tooth Fairy that it’s you and mommy? And there’s no Santa Claus? That’s you and mommy too?”

Tom nodded. Clearly the trolls were not going to be dismissed as one of those inscrutable stories adults tell children, stories meant to nurture that magical sense of wonder which kids have on their own, all the time. Thinking about it, was it any crazier to tell his kids that a fat guy in a red suit landed on the roof with reindeer? A real door under Miranda’s bed was really LESS crazy than a fantasy fat guy flown through the sky by ungulates.

“Miranda, I’d really rather Jordan didn’t go visit the trolls if there’s anyway we can keep that from happening. Your mother would never recover from a second experience like that. Maybe you can explain that to your rock friends?”

Just then, from down the hall, the last room, came a cry from a little guy who was supposed to be sleeping. “Daddy! DADDDY! DADDY! I have a bad dream!!”

“Sorry Dad.”

Last spring I wrote a story about a little girl’s experience with trolls. Seeing the prompt today, there was only one place I could goHere are links to the “backstory.”

Part One: Bad Dream

Part Two: Hot Knob

Part Three: Blasé Cop

Part Four: Real as Real

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/10/31/ragtag-daily-prompt-thursday-the-secret-door/

A Miss is as Good as a Mile

Back in the 70’s a man and woman fell in love, I don’t know where and I don’t know how. Could’ve been at a saloon, could’ve been at her sister’s wedding where the guy was the best man, standing tall in his shiny black boots. Hell, maybe it was at the dance after the rodeo, could’ve been any of those places Maybe he saw her across a room or some other damned place, and felt his heart ping and then melt. She felt a stirring inside, recognized him from some long ago place, their hearts whispered, “That’s the one.”

Could’ve gone a lot of different ways. Maybe they danced. Maybe they only saw each other across the bleachers at a football game, I don’t know how, but there were those five or six minutes. Maybe they were dancing, and her fiancé cut in. Maybe his girlfriend said, “What’re you looking at?” and commenced pouting. No way to know.

But I do know this.

It was in spring just after Parks and Wildlife stocked Homelake. He was there fishing, still tall, but big bellied under a sweat-stained cowboy hat. Come the thaw, his tackle is always in the back of his beater farm truck, a bronze and white Chevy Scottsdale. He takes a minute to load the hook and looks off at the sky, at Mt. Blanca in the fast-changing spring light, the moving clouds.

She walks by with a friend. She’s a little bent, with a mutt on a leash, half collie or something, maybe cattle dog. She looks up and sees him gazing into the distance and turns to see what he’s looking at.

“Takes my breath away,” she says.

“Don’t I know it,” he says.

“What’re you catching?”

“Rainbows.” Big grin.

“Big enough to eat?”

“Most of ’em.” He’s smiling. He looks at her.

She pauses. She’s been gone for decades, following her husband, raising kids, building a profession, but now she’s home again. She hears the home-tones in his voice, the accents of her childhood. It warms her to the core.

“Take it easy!” she says, waving and going on her way.

“You take it easy, too, darlin’,” he says.

Another Story*

The night was dark, not in the least surprising, and the leaves, shunted about by the wind, spun like small dervishes outside her window. However, since no one saw this, it never really happened. Tricia slept, dreaming of the beginnings of a migraine. “I’ll shake it off,” she thought in her sleep and because it was a dream, she did just that, and slept on. A line of red began to show across the cloud-streaked horizon, and still she slept.

—————-

As the red tinged the sky, Tom was unlocking the door to his sprawling studio apartment overlooking the park, after yet another night of debauchery and remorse. “This has to stop,” he thought, again, as he tottered into the bathroom. He turned on the cold water and splashed some on his face. “I ain’t livin’ long like this,” he thought, looking in the mirror.

—————-

There was frost on the grass in the morning and snow was still a distinct possibility, but for now it seemed spring had come in earnest. The red light of the rising sun painted the faraway snow-peaks pink. Remembering Homer, *ῥοδοδάκτυλος Ἠώς, Annie said softly as she stretched and smiled. “Summer sheets. I hope it’s not too soon,” she thought. *Rosy-fingered dawn

—————-

Don was up before light, worried about death. He’d had one small heart attack and was on meds now and taking better care of himself, but he’d also developed anxiety over his funeral. As night retreated, Don was typing furiously on the local community Facebook page, writing his rant about the Catholic church. “I need to plan my funeral,” he wrote. “The Catholic church used to be $150 to rent the basement for an event. Now it’s $250. The church is greedy.” Did he anticipate the backlash and the trolling that would ensue? Among the chain of comments, was, “The church is corrupt. What about all the child molestation the church is paying for to the tune of $2 million?” Here? In this small town? The Parish of St. Joseph the Worker? All followed by a long litany of misspelled factual information from the secretary of the parish explaining the costs of repairs and maintenance in an economy where everyone — including God — struggles to make ends meet.

—————-

When it was over, these four last moments and many others, hurled into infinity by the red flame of apocalyptic justice, sped into the interminable memory of the universe.

—————-

*Going through short stories to see whether they’re finished, what they are, it’s kind of fun. I really enjoy writing short, short stories, something I’d never have tried had I not joined WordPress some years back….