Beach Cookout

Lulubelle smirked. There was nothing special about this. It was just some weird barbecue.

“Have a hot-dog, honey.”

“You know I don’t like hot-dogs, potato salad, watermelon, or any of this stuff.”

“It’s a cookout at the beach, babe, not a five-star restaurant.”

“Whatev’.”

He knew something was wrong. Lulubelle had been somewhat lacking in enthusiasm for, uh, anything, for a month or more. He thought it was just a woman’s thing, but maybe she just didn’t like him anymore, and it had nothing to do with a beach picnic. “I hate love,” he thought.

“I’m not staying over,” he said when they reached her apartment.

“Why not?” Lulubelle looked at him bewildered. “I thought…”

“No. Not this time. I have some stuff to do and, you know, sometimes a guy needs time to himself.”

“You want to break up! I knew it! Look, I’m sorry I didn’t like the food at the picnic or your friends, or pretty much anything, but I don’t… That’s not fair!”

“Lulubelle, if you don’t like anything, then…” he stopped before he said too much. “I’ll call you later.” He leaned over and kissed her softly.

Lulubelle lugged her beach bag up the stairs to her one-bedroom apartment and unlocked the door. “You’re too picky,” her mother’s voice echoed in her head, “and too critical. Just because everyone doesn’t do things the way you do doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Sometimes you need to relax and enjoy something different. If you don’t learn how, you’re going to live in a very small world.” She was 7 at the time and had walked home from a friend’s birthday party because she didn’t want to eat yellow cake.

“Have I done that again?” She set down her bag.

She went into the shower to wash off the salt, sand, sweat, and disappointment. As the hot water streamed down her head and shoulders (clever product placement) the phone rang.

“Damn,” she thought, turning off the faucet, stepping out of the shower and grabbing a towel.

The phone rang. Why did she always leave it on the desk instead of bringing it with her into the bathroom? She hurried on wet feet — careful not to slip — and reached for the phone. “Unknown Caller.”

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/21/rdp-friday-smirk/

Not Happening

“It’s a lot to live up to.”

“What?”

“This moment. This dress. All these flowers. The cost. Why couldn’t we elope?”

“I thought you wanted this.”

“No, not especially. I’m not even sure about how I feel about marriage, let alone a big wedding.”

“NOW you tell me?”

“I’ve BEEN telling you, but you haven’t heard me and my mother? I feel like you two are in a conspiracy. This says ‘my mom’ all over it.” Tabitha looked at the white covered table laden with wedding gifts. The guest book. The other various wedding related objects that would have no use once the “big day” had passed.

“Do you want to call it off, Tabby?’

“How many times do I have to tell you I’m not Tabby? Tabby is a cat.”

Kent shrugged, but he had a sinking feeling — had had for some time.

“Kent, honey, in fact, I think we need…”

“…to talk, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Have at it.”

“Honestly, I don’t want to do this. I want to send back all these stupid presents, cancel the wedding, and go to Bhutan or some place. This is stupid.”

“Stupid.”

“Yeah, this retro-glamor-commercial bullshit. I don’t want it. I don’t want it at all.”

“Why didn’t you say sooner?”

“I’m saying now.”

“Yeah, but the invitations have been sent out.”

“Really? And how does that matter? It’s my life. And those three hundred people? They have better things to do than sit through some ceremony and then a reception where we do some dorky dance that someone puts on Youtube hoping it’ll go viral. It won’t. We’re not that good. It’ll just be embarrassing.”

“So you don’t want to marry me?”

“That’s a separate issue. I don’t want this stupid wedding. Thousands of dollars for what? Half of all marriages end in divorce. I think if people decide to marry with odds like that they ought to crawl away and do it secretly in case it doesn’t work out and maybe celebrate after 20 years.”

“Wow. I never knew you felt this way.”

“You never asked me.”

“All those dress fittings…”

“Good god, spare me the memory of that. Listen, I can’t do this, I won’t do this. You can tell my mom since you two are such good buddies.”

“That’s just cold.”

“No, it isn’t. You should care about what I want, what I believe in. It should matter to you.”

“Really? You’re a woman. This is your big day, your day to shine, be a princess, all of that. I have sisters. I know.”

“Maybe I’m not your sisters? Maybe we’re not all alike? Maybe I’d like to shine some other way? Maybe? I think this was a huge mistake.”

“Ah, so now you don’t want to marry me.”

“No, I don’t think I do. Here.” Tabby put the diamond ring on the table between them and stood up. “I’m not sure what I want, but I know I don’t want this,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/ceremony/

Hot Knob

Tom was astounded and scared. The smell of burnt mush wafted down the hall on the waves of Jordan’s screams. He stood up.

“Honey,” he said to his wife, “You have to get up. Miranda’s missing.”

“It’s just one of her games. You’ll find her somewhere.”

“I don’t want to argue. The mush is burning, Jordan is crying and Miranda is gone.”

“Welcome to MY world,” said Joan. But she sat up, slipped her feet into her fluffy bunny slippers and put on her robe. Tying it around her, she went to the kitchen, picked Jordan up so he would stop screaming, and turned off the fire under the mush. “Whoever said children change your life was right. I don’t know about the ‘for the better’ part.” Jordan grabbed a wad of her hair and pulled it. She went to Miranda’s bedroom and found Tom sitting on Miranda’s bed. He’d moved Miranda’s pink fluffy rug and the bed to one side and was staring at the trap door..

“Did you KNOW about this?”

“The question you should be asking, Tom, is whether it’s a real door or not.”

“Oh come on. Miranda couldn’t have drawn this. She’s five.”

Tom leaned down and touched the lava doorknob. “Good Lord!” he screamed, pulling back his hand. “This is crazy. That doorknob is as hot as fire.”

“Probably something wrong with the furnace. I think you should call somebody.”

“Get me a hot pad from the kitchen.”

“You’re not serious.”

“I had a funny feeling last night when Miranda came to our room, a premonition, that there really was…”

“A TROLL? Tom, call the cops. If our daughter is really missing — and hasn’t just found the perfect hiding place — but seriously?” Joan lifted her voice and called, “Miranda! Miranda! Come out from wherever you are. This isn’t funny any more. Miranda!!!!

Part One: Bad Dream

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/premonition/

Bad Dream

“Go back to bed. You can’t sleep with us. You have your own room.”

Miranda looked all around her parents’ room.

“Mommy, there’s a troll after me. He wants to eat me.”

“It’s just your imagination, Miranda. Trolls aren’t real. They’re just in stories.”

“They ARE!” Miranda began to cry. “Trolls ARE real!”

“Mumble, mumble, mumble,” said Miranda’s father, translated to, “Let her in bed so we can get some sleep!”

“You know, Tom, I don’t believe in children sleeping with parents! It’s not healthy!”

“Mumble, mumble, mumble,” translated to, “I don’t give a good god-damn what you believe, I have to work tomorrow.”

Miranda crawled into bed beside her mom, but her mom made sure Miranda would NOT be comfortable. She gave her six inches on the edge of the bed. Miranda lay wide-eyed, awake, waiting. She was sure the troll had followed her and was right UNDER the bed waiting for her to put a leg outside the covers. Then the trolll would GRAB it and drag her down, pull her under the bed and take her through a secret doorway in the floor to the netherworld where he would cook and eat her.

The sun hit the huge roses — or were they peonies? — on the bedroom drapes. The light was golden and brief.

Miranda’s mother moaned, “Morning already?”

“Don’t worry, kitten. I’ll fix breakfast for the kids.” Miranda’s father kissed his wife on the cheek, sat up and ambled to the bathroom in his shorts and t-shirt. He washed and shook his head awake. “What a NIGHT,” he thought. “I’ll be so happy when Miranda gets through this nightmare phase.”

He returned to their bedroom, got dressed for work — all but his suit jacket — and went to the kitchen. He made coffee, put water on to boil for mush, waking up bit by bit as the sun rose higher. “Where are the kids?” he wondered. They were always awake the minute the sun peeked over the edge of the world. Miranda usually let her little brother out of the crib and they came running to the kitchen to “help.”

The coffee perking, the mush boiling, he went to wake up his children. Jordan was standing in his crib, waiting to be let out. “C’mon big fella. There you go, now go to the bathroom while I get your big sister.” Jordan hugged his dad around the neck and ran to the bathroom.

Tom found Miranda’s bedroom door open, but no Miranda anywhere.

“That’s right,” he thought. “She slept with us last night.” He went back to his bedroom and quietly opened the door.  “Honey,” he said, “did Miranda sleep with us all night?”

“What? What is it, Tom?”

“Miranda.”

“I don’t know. She had a bad dream. She went back to her room about 4 or so.”

“She’s not there now.”

“She’s hiding. She thinks that’s funny. Look under her bed.”

“OK. Go back to sleep.”

Tom went back to his little girl’s room. “Miranda, this isn’t funny. Come on out now. Your mush will be burned.” He looked in the closet, behind the door, beside her dresser. Finally he moved her bed and underneath it he found not his daughter but a trap door with a tiny doorknob made of lava.

Continued here: https://marthakennedy.blog/?s=Hot+Knob

Then here: https://marthakennedy.blog/2018/02/28/37501/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/imagination/

Sticky Notes

“Good luck with that!” Tiffany softly giggled to herself.

“I’m serious. I insist you clean up your room.”

“Mom. I’m 38. You don’t have that kind of leverage any more.”

“You’re living in MY house under MY roof. You’ll do as I say.”

“Yeah, but mom, I took over the payments six years ago. It’s really MY house and yeah. I have to go to work.”

“Tiffany! I’m your mother! Come back here! Listen to me when I’m talking to you!”

Tiffany was relieved to hear the front door open and close followed by footsteps in the hall. “Thank goodness,” she thought.

“Hi Mrs. Baumgarten.”

“Who are you?”

“Jenny? Your nurse? Remember? I come every day, Mrs. Baumgarten. Have you had your breakfast yet?”

Tiffany’s mother shook her head and looked around Tiffany’s room in confusion. It wasn’t messy. It was as neat as a pin. She shrugged and followed Jenny to the kitchen.

“Jenny, can we have a word?” Tiffany passing the kitchen on her way out.

“Absolutely.”

“She just had an episode.”

“I thought she might have. She gets that lost look in her eyes afterwards, sort of ‘What was that?'”

“If you need me I’m only a text away.”

“We’re going to sit down after breakfast and write sticky notes to ourself to help us with the day.”

“I love that. I come home and see everything mom did while I was gone.”

“It keeps her on track. Don’t worry, Tiffany. Have a good day.”

“You too, Jenny, and thank you.”

“No worries. Remember, you pay me!” Jenny smiled and gave Tiffany a quick hug.

“Yeah, I know, but…”

“I know.”

“Bye mom!”

“Bye honey! Have a good day!”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/insist/

Motives

The cars sped around the track that had been part of an airfield only a year before.  The fans — mostly young girls in tweed skirts, heavy sweaters and warm shawls pulled tight across their shivering shoulders — cheered from the sidelines. Men in cuffed trousers and brown brogans with heavy socks, bent over their stopwatches. In the announcer’s box — a wooden affair, quickly cobbled together out of old boxes and scrap wood after the war and painted the high gloss gray left over from painting runways — a man with a microphone called the names of the three drivers closest to the finish line.

“In third place, but coming up quickly, is Denis O’Callahan from Donegal. In second, driving hard to overtake the first place driver, is Paddy O’Murphy from Coleraine. In first place and fighting to hold his position, is Seamus Kennedy from Galway. With only seconds left — oh, an upset, O’Murphy has overtaken Kennedy, and he’s, he’s, HE’S WON, FOLKS! The first place trophy goes to Paddy O’Murphy of Coleraine! We’re going down to talk to him now. Mr. O’Murphy, congratulations on your win. For a time it was looking like you’d be taking second place.”

“I don’t take second place. It’s not in me blood, second place.”

“Automobile racing is a dangerous game. There were a few close calls this afternoon. Tell me somethin’.”

“Sure.”

“You survived that godawful war, so why are ye’ riskin’ yer life out here on the track?”

“Och, dat’s easy. I race for duh trill of it, dontcha’ know?”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/trill/

Satori of Pit Bull

“I think so, too. Roger. You were right. I’m not interested in anything, not here, anyway. I don’t know why. I mean we have a great place to live, good jobs, you’re a good looking guy, we’re pretty much free to do what we want…”

“Uh, I didn’t mean that talk.”

“WHAT talk, then?”

“Jasmine, I saw the green flash.”

“Comic books again, Roger?” Jasmine suddenly knew why she was so bored with this man.

“It was amazing. Miraculous, I didn’t even think it really existed.”

“Of course it doesn’t exist. He’s a comic book character. You are such a CHILD. If I wanted kids, I’d have some.” Jasmine stood up from the bed, looked into the contents of her suitcase, decided there were stores everywhere and she had money. Why was she packing ANYTHING? OH well. She closed it carefully, making sure it was latched. She didn’t want her dramatic exit to turn into a comedic movie scene where the lid popped open and lingerie spilled everywhere. “Roger, I’m leaving. I don’t know if I’m leaving for good or not, but, yeah, this isn’t making me happy.”

“Wait, Jasmine, what I learned is that NOTHING makes us happy. We’re either happy or we’re not. You know what? A bum, a homeless fucking bum, on the beach who’s got NOTHING, offered to share his beer with me. He said I looked ‘forlorn’.”

“So? Were you?”

“Well, yeah. Trev and Candace were, I dunno, and then you didn’t want to go with me, that was, I dunno. I took a walk and kept meeting weirdos. I ended up sitting on the sand with a pit bull and a teenager waiting for the green flash.”

“A pit bull and a teenager?”

“Yeah. Sweet dog.”

“OK, well, you know, it’s been real, Roger, but…” She walked down the hallway to the foyer pausing to take a look around at their “home.”

“If you leave, we’ll have to sell this place.” Roger thought for a moment. What would be so bad about that?

“We can talk about the details later, babe.”

“Where are you going?”

“I don’t know right now. I’ll be in touch.” The door closed behind her and Roger found himself in their barn of a house. Its decorative touches, the vaulted ceiling, the giant fireplace they never used, the wallpaper frieze of undulating patterns that had once so enchanted Jasmine all seemed like silly adornment on a world that didn’t need adornment, a world that had a green flash.

Part 1: Allergic to Life

Part 2: Something about Cake

Part 3: Connectivity Issues

Part 4: Crowd Control

Part 5: THAT Sentence

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/undulate/

Crowd Control

“Dude, are you doing better? You looked so forlorn when you came by here a little while ago. Want some Fosters?” The oil-drum homeless guy reached out to Roger with a paper bag, top turned down around a large can of beer.

“Are you kidding?”

“No, dude. It’s decent beer. I was in Australia once. Shoulda’ stayed. Had a woman and everything. You hoping to see the Green flash?”

“Yeah.”

“Perfect conditions for it. Clear sky, bright sun, I dunno, we might get lucky. You wanna’ buy some shrooms?”

“No, I don’t want to buy some shrooms.”

“Just thought I’d ask.”

Roger shuddered, and decided to head further down the beach without taking his eyes off the horizon. He found a place to sit on the sand and looked toward the west. To his right a small group of dread-locked nouveau hippies was dancing in a circle around a drummer. Marijuana smoke wafted toward him.

“I wonder what happened to my god-damned phone?” he muttered, more loudly than he realized.

“Material things are ties. They anchor us to desire,” said a young man in a saffron robe passing by. His head was shaved, his feet were bare. He stood in front of Roger, blocking his view of the sun.

“Could you get out of the way? I want to see the green flash?”

“Oh, sorry dude,” said the young man. “Namaste!”

“No privacy anywhere any more,” said Roger.

“It’s a public beach, dude, what do you expect?” The kid with the skateboard and pit bull sat down beside him. “You trying to see the green flash?” The dog licked Roger’s ear.

***

About the Green Flash

Part 1: Allergic to Life

Part 2: Something about Cake

Part 3: Connectivity Issues

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/forlorn/

Connectivity Issues

“I’ll have grilled mahi tacos, two of them. Candace?”

“Same.”

“Roger? Roger? Earth to Roger. Come in, Roger.”

“I’m going home. Sorry guys.” Roger got up from the bar stool, left twenty bucks on the table and was out the door. His first thought was to go home, see what was up with Jasmine, but somehow he couldn’t make himself get in his car.

“I guess I need to think,” he said aloud. “Walk on the beach or something.””

“What, buddy?” a voice came out from behind an old oil drum put on the beach for trash.

“Maybe this isn’t such a good idea, either. So many homeless guys here now. Winter.”

He turned up Newport. Trev and Candace waved as he went by. “So embarrassing. First my girl doesn’t show up with me, now, I dunno. What’s the point of love anyway?” he said to himself. He looked around. All the same buildings, many with new paint, new names. “Everything changes all the god-damned time.”

He fumbled around in his pocket for his phone. He’d call her, see if she wanted to meet him down here, walk on the beach. He had his wallet, keys, yeah, they were where they were supposed to be, no phone. “Where’s my fucking phone?” he said aloud.

“Hey, go down on the beach with the rest of the crazies why don’t you?” said a teenager on a skateboard being pulled by a pit bull.

“Who’s crazy?” he yelled back. “I’d like to see your folks’ dental bill when that dog pulls you into a lamp post!”

He fumbled around in his pocket some more. “Must be in my car,” he muttered, and headed back down Newport to the parking lot at the end of the street by the beach, by the bar, by the bums. As he passed South Beach Bar and Grill, Trevor and Candace waved again. He flipped them the bird.

What was left of day seemed to funnel into one small red spot on the horizon. Roger stood a moment and watched, “What if,” he thought, “it’s real? What if there really is a green flash?”

Part 1: Allergic to Life

Part 2: Something about Cake

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/funnel/

 

Happy Ending

She wrapped the shawl around her cold shoulders and went out into the fog. The yellow street lights made piss poor progress in that wet darkness, but it didn’t matter. She knew her way. “Either he’s there or he isn’t. If he isn’t, I’ll go home. If he is, I don’t know what I’ll do.”

It occurred to her that this was no choice at all.

“Wow,” she thought. “I’ve been pacing the floor this whole evening and THAT’S the best I can come up with?”

She knew herself. She wouldn’t raise her voice. She wouldn’t complain. She wouldn’t drag him home. She wouldn’t lock him out. She wouldn’t do anything, so what was the point of this?

“I saw him at the Purple Breasted Pigeon with Carla,” said her co-worker, Lucy, just two days before. “They were clearly not ‘just friends’ if you get my drift.”

“Why are you telling me?”

“We women have to stick together. It’s us against them.”

“If it’s ‘us against them’ why are we with ‘them’ in the first place?” The thought crossed her mind. She didn’t think of her marriage as an adversarial relationship, just sometimes a crappy one.

“I guess,” she’d said to Lucy. “I don’t know why it’s like that, though.”

“The nature of the beast,” Lucy said, nodding wisely, “the nature of the beast.”

Beast,”  she thought as she made her way through the fog. “Beast,” she said aloud to the empty street. Ahead she could see purple neon reflected on fog. It was a neighborhood bar, after all, and she was almost there. She heard music. She thought of their dating days, hers and Lamont’s, and how often they would go out dancing and how they never did anymore. “What happens to love?” she asked the vague and heavy air. “Maybe it’s the nature of the beast.”

She turned around. There was no reason to go inside looking for her husband and her friend. She would only look foolish, a step down from merely feeling foolish. Soon she was home, a three-story 1950s apartment building near the park. She and Lamont loved it when they first saw it, couldn’t believe their luck. She opened the front door, went upstairs to their apartment and unlocked the door. Lamont stood in the kitchen chopping onions.

“Where have you been, honey? I’ve been worried. Visibility is crap tonight. It took me over an hour to get home from work. There were crashes everywhere. Hey, did Carla tell you the news? I ran into her a couple nights ago when I was passing the Purple. Remember when I couldn’t get any close parking? She and her dude are moving to Oregon! He got that job he wanted. I bought her a drink. Anyway, I thought I’d make us some chili. Sound good?”

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/foggy/