Men in Kilts

Men in Kilts

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Photo Credit: C.E. Ayr

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. The photo this week is was taken by C.E. Ayr in Glasgow, Scotland.  My story is a bit quirky. I hope it is equally enjoyable.

“Ever been to Scotland, Conrad?”

The question surprised me, producing a blank look that must have given The Boss reason to question my educational background.

“Scotland…you know, Loch Ness…Highlander… men in kilts?”

I blushed at the thought of naked male knees, conveying more information than I cared to share. I quickly came to my senses.

“Of course, I know Scotland. My grandfather was from Scotland. Or was Ireland? Never could keep the two countries straight. Why do you ask?”

“I need you to fly over and drop off a package.”

“Don’t they have postal service in Scotland,” I ask. The Boss has made strange requests before, but mail delivery was a new one.

“It’s all over the news Conrad! Amazon Corporation owns the USPS. Trump says so. Besides, I can’t take a chance this package is delivered to the wrong address.” The Boss leaned forward and whispered, “It’s for a lady friend of mine. If you get my drift.”

I got the drift. The Boss had lots of lady friends. I felt sorry for his missus, but still…

“Are there really men in kilts there?”

“The place is crawling with them.”

“When do I leave?”

 

 

La Chapa

La Chapa

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Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. The photo this week is was taken at the Raton Pass Motor Inn, on Route 66. Each room has a different theme, and this week’s photo was taken in the Pin-Up Girl room. The Raton Pass Motor Inn is a real blast from the past and I highly recommend anyone taking a trip down the Mother Road stop there for the night.  You can find more about Raton Pass Motor Inn  HERE.

 “Well, it’s better than the back seat of the car.” Jo Reynolds eyed the motel room. Scarce furnishings, but clean. She expected worse this side of the Mexico border. Jo had driven all night, crossing the International Bridge at Mission Texas. Dead-tired, she found the desolate motel near La Chapa. Jo needed sleep, but first she needed a drink. She poured several shots of cheap tequila into a dull glass left on the nightstand by previous occupant. Undaunted by germs, Jo emptied the glass quickly, then laid on the bed, closing her eyes.

Sleep did not come. No amount of tequila could erase the memory of the past two days. Or of Jimmy.

They had been so good together. A perfect blend of desire and danger. If only Jimmy had kept his mouth shut. Jimmy loved to boast, especially after a few drinks. At a different motel, they fought hard. He pleaded, and she cried when he spoke the words that sealed his fate.

“Baby, you know I’m no good for you. Better kill me now.” *

They say a woman’s weapon of choice is poison, but if you are a Texas gal, a Colt-45 works just fine.

 

* Loosely lifted from the song Loser, by Beck.

 

 

Art at its Best

Art at its Best

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge, hosted by yours truly, to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. This week’s interesting photo is courtesy of Fandango. I am sure there will be many unusual stories generated this week, so wander HERE read a few. Or better yet, write your own story and add to the collection. 

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Photo courtesy of Fandango

 

Now for this week’s story…

“This will kill your career!” Andre screeched like a cat with its tail caught in the door as he stared in disbelief at the monstrosity in front of him. His own career was also at stake. Why had placed all his hope in one artist, Paul Best.

Paul rolled his eyes and smirked.

“Some agent you are! I should fire you. This is going to be bigger than any art exhibit you have ever seen.”

“Where did you get the idea.” Maybe Andre just needed to understand Paul’s motivation.

“It was along the curb in a low-class neighborhood. I think they call it trash, but I call it inspiration. Two broken chairs, and a tree limb. Fantastic!”

You picked it up?” Andre was horrified.

“Of course not! My driver did.” Paul beheld his newest creation. “I call this ‘Summer Evening.’ Reminiscent of those Southern hicks that sit under a tree drinking iced tea at twilight. Do you think I should add some Earl Grey tea bags to the limbs?

“Make it Lipton,” sighed Andre.

Perhaps Paul was right. When it came to creating art, he had the Midas touch. After all, he wasn’t called ‘The Best’ for nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

Another Man’s Trash

Another Man’s Trash

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge, hosted by yours truly, to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. This week’s photo is courtesy of C.E. Ayr. I am sure there will be many interesting stories this week, so why not wander over there and read for few. Or better yet, write your own story and add to the collection.  You can find this week’s challenge  HERE

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Photo Credit: C.E. Ayr

Now for this week’s story, inspired by my grandparents. 

Grady had one goal in life: to make his wife Emma happy.

It had not been easy. After the crash of ’29, times were tough, but Grady’s cotton farm provided a place to sleep and food to eat. But when the ‘black rollers’ brought billowing clouds of dust across the Texas panhandle, his farm eroded into nothing. Taking only what would fit in the back of the 1928 black Ford pickup, Grady and Emma headed for California, unsure what the future would bring.

Grady landed a job in Los Angeles as a trash man. Picking up garbage paid less than white men’s wages, but Grady was happy for the job. His partner was an older black man named Leroy.

“You won’t believe what these white folks throw away.” Leroy said. “Keep what you want and sell it.”

Leroy’s words rung true. Despite the Depression, the trash cans of wealthier families were full of useful items. At their last stop, Grady noticed an Oriental teapot sitting on top of the kitchen trash.

Emma would be thrilled. All her teapots had been left behind in Texas. This would be the start of a new collection.

 

When my grandparents moved from Texas to California in the early 1930s, my grandfather spend some time as a trash collector in an affluent neighborhood. Many of the things that my grandmother gave me came from his days as a trash collector. They had been poor cotton farmers before moving to California and the idea of throwing away perfectly good items perplexed her. Below is a photo of the teapot featured in the story.

teapot
photo credit: Susan Spaulding

 

 

 

 

 

Little Pink Houses

Little Pink Houses

Good Sunday Morning.  I missed last week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge due to other priorities but glad to be back this week.  This week’s photo is one of my own, taken near the  Myriad Botanical Gardens in downtown Oklahoma city.

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Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

For those who don’t know, Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge, hosted by yours truly, to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. I am sure there will be many interesting stories this week, so why not wander over there and read for few. Or better yet, write your own story and add to the collection.  You can find this week’s challenge HERE

Now for this week’s story.

At the end of the cul-de-sac sat a tiny pink house, sandwiched between houses three-times its size. Millennials Joe and Beth Campbell owned the quaint cottage, boasting to their neighbors they were no longer slaves to their positions.

Until they won the lottery.

No sooner had the for-sale sign been staked when the couple heard a knock at the door. A strange little man with a long white beard and pointed nose looked up at them.

“The name’s Rump,” he said, “I can pay your asking price.”

The Campbells each wondered what their neighbors would think.

“I will pay more,” he offered.

The heck with the neighbors. The Campbells took the offer.

Before they could sign the papers, they hear another knock. A bent-over old woman clothed in a long black dress stood on their steps. Rump introduced his wife, Hilda.

Joe and Beth disliked their neighbors but selling the house to characters out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales seemed wrong.

“We changed our minds,” they said, slamming the door.

Rump glared at his wife. “Hag, I told you, stay in the car! Now what are we going to do? Houses like this don’t come on the market every day.”

 

 

 

Divine Justice

Divine Justice

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. The photo this week is one I took while on a cruise excursion. The couple in the photo look nice and cozy. There is nothing nice and cozy about this story. 

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Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

For residents of the Carolina’s, Hurricane Florence embodied death and destruction. For Annie, Florence was divine providence. In all things, Annie accepted her fate as the will of God. How else could she have endured the past ten years?

The police pleaded: evacuate. Ray, her captor, affirmed they would stay.

The officer turned to Annie, thin with lifeless eyes.

You can leave, he said.

God wants me to stay. Annie closed the door.

For hours, rain and wind whipped the white frame house. When the electricity went out, Annie never felt safer. The rising water swirled around her ankles.

It is time.

Annie pulled a plastic bottle from her bedding. Inside, a note.

What is that, demanded Ray.

Your death sentence, Annie rejoiced. Written in secret, the note named Ray for the monster he was; chronicled the atrocities Annie endured at his hand.

Annie raced toward the basement, filling with water. Ray followed in pursuit.

Him or me, she prayed.

The sound of a slamming door was lost amidst the howling winds.

After the storm, rescuers spotted someone standing on the roof of the white frame house.

Anyone inside?

A man in the basement, said Annie.

It was God’s will.

~~~~~

In the story, Ray is named as ‘her captor.’ I will allow the reader to decide how literal to take the take the label. Annie may have simply been trapped in a loveless marriage, in which case, her actions would then be considered murder. Or maybe ‘captor’ should be taken literally, giving justification to her actions during the storm. There were, however, three events this week where I took inspiration. First, the hurricane itself. I wondered, how easy would it be for someone to kill another and blame it on the storm? Second, Wanda Barzee, the woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart, will soon go free. This revived Elizabeth’s horrific story.  Lastly, I learned this week that one of my “neighbors,” a known sexual predator who preyed on poor black woman who could not pay their rent recently died of colon cancer. Death was too good for Ray.

Lily Rose

Lily Rose

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. This weeks unique photo is provided by Anurag Bakhshi.

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Photo credit: Anurag Bakhshi

Her true name was Lily Rose but folks in town called her Crazy Flower Lady. She was a gardener, the last of her kind in this part of the world. Years of drought turned the once fertile valley into a desert where only cactus survived. Everywhere except the patch of land where Lily Rose lived. There, plants and flowers thrived in a brilliance of color. No one knew how she kept a garden without water. Some said on the night of a full moon, she stood in her yard, arms stretched upward, beaconing the plant gods to breathe life into her ‘children.’

No wonder they called her crazy.

I knew the truth. Plants only survived when there is water. For the sake of all who lived in the valley, I needed to know where to find it.

I drove the dusty road to her homestead, aiming to confront the old woman. “Tell me where to find the water,” I demanded.

The old lady’s cackle sent chills down my spine. “Truth isn’t truth. You have your truth, and I have mine. The flowers bloom because they like it here.”

Quickly I left, not entirely convinced she was crazy at all.

This photo reminded me of my childhood. My Grandmother was a true gardener, able to grow anything from a sprig taken from a plant, which she often did secretly when visiting nurseries. I don’t believe witchcraft was involved but her talents were amazing. Unfortunately, I inherited none of her green thumb. I have to admit, however, that the story was shaped based on a comment I heard on television this morning. ‘Truth isn’t truth’ is just too juicy to let go. The story ended up being more menacing than originally intended, but I believe it is better for it.

Between Friends

Between Friends

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. This week’s photo is courtesy of Fandango.

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Photo Credit: Fandango

“Norman Bates.”

“Who?”

“The loony who dressed up like his mother and killed the blond dame in the shower. In the movies.”

Pete and Harvey sat with legs dangling over the edge of the 41st floor. High-rise construction was a lonely business, and Pete was glad he had Harvey to help pass the time.

“What makes you think your brother-in-law Jimmy is like Norman Bates?” Harvey asked.

“He has one of those shower obsessions. Last week I was out back burning some burgers when, you know, nature called. I walked to the bathroom, and there was Jimmy, standing in the shower, smelling the soap.” Pete stopped to take a bite of his ham sandwich. “You don’t think he is one of those…?

Harvey paused before answering. “What kind of soap was it?”

“It was the missus’ soap. Dove maybe?”

“Yeah, I like Dove. It makes the wife’s skin smell clean.

“It does have a nice aroma.” said Pete.

“About Jimmy, don’t worry about him. Once I caught my brother Davy holding up the wife’s brassiere to his chest. You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends. Know what I mean, Pete.”

“Yeah, Harvey. I know.”

 

 

 

Step on a Crack…

Step on a Crack…

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. Thanks to James Pyle for submitting this week’s photo. 

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Photo Credit James Pyle

“Step on a crack…break your mother’s back!”

Daisy heard the superstitious chant from her older cousins and believing them to be wise beyond their seven years, took care to avoid the cracks in the garden walkway. It was not always easy, especially when Mommy called to come inside for hot cookies and milk.

Inevitably, Daisy forgot to be careful. As soon as she stepped, the ground felt different under her Buster Browns. Peering downward, Daisy began to shriek. Certain her daughter had been stung by a bee, or worse, her mother rushed from the kitchen.
“Daisy, what’s wrong!” her mother cried. Daisy pointed to her foot and mumble a few words about breaking mommy’s back.

Relieved, her mother gathered Daisy in her arms. “Nothing bad will happen when you step on a crack,” her mother assured her. “Come on. I have hot cookies for you.”

Daisy wiped her eyes and followed her mother to the kitchen, no longer careful where she stepped.

As night approached, a grisly light emitted from the widening cracks in the garden path. Long, grayish fingers grasped hold of the edge. Daisy’s mother was wrong. Dreadful things do happen when you step on a crack.

 

This story is based on the old superstition that cracks in the pavement were portals to the underworld, and by stepping on a crack, you released the demons that lived there, bringing bad luck. 

Just Sports II

Just Sports II

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. Thanks to C.E. Ayr for this weeks challenge. To see what other stories were inspired by this great photo, just go here

This week is a continuation of my last story, Just Sports. I couldn’t leave Frank and Diane hanging in marital disarray and I hope you agree, things are getting interesting. 

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Photo Credit: C.E. Ayr

Diane was adamant.

“I want four hours, every Saturday morning. No questions asked.”

“What do you mean, no questions asked. What do you plan to do?”

“No questions. Not where I go, not whom I’m with. Those are my conditions.”

The couple sat at separate ends of the therapist’s couch. The World Cup had torn their marriage apart. Diane wanted a divorce, but Frank begged they try counseling first. His sports obsession was out of control and he was willing to do anything to keep his wife.

On Saturday morning, Diane left the house without a word. She drove to the park where she saw Barry’s car. It was early, and they were quite alone.

“Frankie is OK with this?” Barry asked. Frank was his best friend and he wanted to make sure he had his blessings first.”

“It’s complicated. The less he knows, the better.”

“I like you Diane, but I’m not sure you are worth losing a friend over.”

“You are such a silly boy. Can we go now?”

“Whenever you are ready.” Barry pointed to the bicycles. “You are officially in training for the  Hotter ‘N’ Hell Hundred.”