Chuck Wendig: Corgi Noir

This week’s Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge is a Random Photo Exercise.  He posted a link to a Flickr photo randomizer and we had to pick one and use it as inspiration.  I had a good idea, I think, but I’m not sure it came out the way I wanted it to.  Gonna post it anyway, though.  Please to enjoy.


CORGI NOIR

https://www.flickr.com/photos/trustypics/33117598356/

Corgi Noir [9/52] [Film Noir]
from Trustypics

I sat in the black chair, nose drooping down onto my paws as I got more and more drowsy.  There had been more than water in my bowl.  It had been a long day and I was waiting for a dame to walk through the door and jump-start my life.  I was waiting for a dame named Lady Luck.

As it turns out she was late.  I had to sit for quite a while.  I refilled the bowl a couple of times and had a pretty good buzz going.  Okay, more than a buzz.  By the time the door opened, I was almost asleep.  The crash of the door slamming woke me.

My head came up and the hat fell off my head as I realized that she had arrived.  It wasn’t Lady Luck, but it was a lady.

Her coat was glossy and brown.  Her ears were perky and her brown eyes were pools of deepest night’s light.  Her legs went all the way down to her paws and the rhinestones on her collar caught the light and scattered it into bits.

“Hiya, dollface,” I said.  She sniffed, putting her nose up, and gave me a cold shoulder.  Me!  In my own office!

I hopped down off the chair and made my way over to the cabinet.  I nosed the door open and reached up, knocking down a box of Milk Bones.  They were Small size, not the Minis.  I’m no cheap Jake.  I know how to treat a lady.

She started sniffing around, picking out the red ones.  They were my favorites, but I didn’t say anything.  I pushed my bowl over to her and refilled it.  A lady needs to be able to wash down her snack.

“What can I do for you?” I asked.

She finished picking out the red Milk Bones and slurped down everything in the bowl.  She looked back at me and twitched her tail.  Her tongue lolled out and she grinned.  “You’ve done enough already,” she said.  She looked back down at the other treats.  “Those were good.”  She walked past me.  I felt her tail stroke its way down my side.

I turned around in time to see her disappear back out the door.  It swung shut behind her.  Was I supposed to follow?  I didn’t know.  It figures.  Of all the red Milk Bones in all the cabinets in all the world, she comes and eats mine.

I had no idea what to do next.  So I did the only thing I could.  I ate a couple of the tan Milk Bones that were left then got my hat back on my head and climbed back into the chair.  Before long I was getting drowsy and my nose began to drift downward again.

I was still waiting for a dame.  I was still waiting for Lady Luck.  I could wait a little longer.

Chuck Wendig: The Porcelain Cat Wants In

Sometimes I wonder where my ideas come from.  This week’s Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge is another go at last week.  In Ten More Titles (Round Two!) Chuck selected ten more titles from the ones that were submitted two weeks ago and put them out there for us to play with.  He gave us 1500 words.  Somehow, I got the idea to combine two of the titles, “The Porcelain Cat” and “It Wants In” and to make my story a poem.  I had initial thoughts of doing an homage to “The Raven” but it came out the way it came out.

It’s not very long, only 183 words, but looking at what others have written this week, coming in way under the limit seems to be a trend.  This is different from any of the other writing I have posted here before.  I hope you like it.  Please comment and let me know what you think.  I’ll be curious to know.


THE PORCELAIN CAT WANTS IN

My body shines dully
in the glow of the lamp
that lights the front porch

I cry out,
Insistent–
Strident–
Yet silent,
from a throat of glass

Who will hear me?
Who will find me here,
Alone,
on the porch as the night falls?

The wind blows
I cannot hear it, though—
my ears are glazed
I cannot feel it
It does not ruffle my fur

Rain falls
The wind blows it onto the porch
and it beads upon my finish
and runs in rivulets
like tears falling
to puddle on the ground at my feet

Who will come for me?
Who will dry me
with gentle hands
holding warm towels?

I stand sentinel against the night
Guarding the house
Keeping my people safe
It is cold, though
And it is

Lonely

So the wind blows
and the rain falls
and I cry out into the dark
Wanting only to come inside
where it is warm
and dry
and full of loving hands
To hold me
And admire me
And keep me safe
and whole

Unbroken
Warm
Dry
Not alone any more

In

Chuck Wendig: The Last American

Last week’s Chuck Wendig challenge wasn’t to write a story, but rather to come up with a three word title for a story.  Chuck randomly selected ten of those titles, and this week’s Challenge, Ten Titles From You, the objective was to pick one of those titles and give it a go, staying under 1,000 words.  I picked “The Last American” and came in at 791 words.  I’m not entirely sure it’s that great of a story, but the title brought an image into my head so I wrote the story to get to that image.  Please to enjoy.


THE LAST AMERICAN

Lonnie Barksdale, the last American, stood between two of the towering white columns, staring up into the great stone face of Abraham Lincoln.  He read the words engraved on the walls.  One sentence in particular caught his attention:  “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.“  He chuckled, a wry laugh that he liked to think Lincoln would have shared had they ever spoken.

He descended the steps, remembering the famous speeches he had seen, Martin Luther King and Forrest Gump, wondering what it must have been like to look out over so many thousands of people.  He shook his head.  It beggared description.

He walked down the Mall, stopping at each of the monuments and memorials to reflect on their meanings.  He ran his fingers over names on the Vietnam wall.  They were names of soldiers long dead, many of whom had died to defend an ideal that they hadn’t believed in.

Lonnie could relate.

He stood at the base of the Washington Monument and looked up, up, up, to where its four sides met, hundreds of feet in the air.  George Washington had been a great man.  He had given Alexander Hamilton his shot, made Hamilton his right-hand man, and together they had battled the Democratic Republicans to a standstill until Washington had gone home to Mount Vernon.

A few minutes further walking led Lonnie to the base of the Capitol stairs.  He looked up at the balcony where so many great men had given speeches full of hopes and dreams and aspirations of greatness for themselves and for the nation.  Lonnie stood there, and he remembered.

He did not go into the Capitol.  The dome rose high into the grey afternoon sky.  The building was too large, too imposing, too intimidating.  He had seen it on television so many times, seen so many debates and discussions and briefings and news reports.  He didn’t need to see the Capitol.  He felt like he knew its hallways by heart.

There was one final place Lonnie wanted to go, though, before he finished.

He made his way up Pennsylvania Avenue, past many great buildings, seeing names that he knew, addresses that he recognized.  The National Gallery.  The Archives.  He considered going inside to see the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence but remembered that they had been moved to a more secure location.  He shrugged and kept moving.

He came to the South Lawn.  He looked through the bars of the fence for a few minutes, then clambered over.  He crossed the wide expanse of the lawn, once so immaculately maintained.  He had seen scenes from so many ceremonies and events that had taken place there.  It didn’t even look like the same place any more.

Lonnie walked around the grounds for a while, and came around to the West Wing.  He wandered through the Rose Garden, looking at the remnants of some spectacular horticulture, then he opened a door and walked inside.  Just down the hall was his goal:  the Oval Office.

The door was ajar.  He entered the room.  The gloomy day outside had darkened the room considerably.  Lonnie wanted to see it, and on instinct he turned, found a light switch, and flicked it up.  To his surprise, the lights came on.  They must have had their own generator, he thought.

He walked across the rug with its giant seal to the monstrous mahogany desk and sat down behind it.  The chair was comfortable.  He leaned back and put his feet up, and picked up the telephone.  On a whim he held it to his ear.  Nothing.  Not that he had expected anything.  He hung it up again and started rummaging through the desk’s drawers.

It felt good sitting there.  I wonder if it felt this good to Reagan?  Or Obama?  Did David Palmer ever feel this way?  Now there had been a president.  Nobody messed with America on David Palmer’s watch.  But if they did, Steve Rogers and Clark Kent had been there to deal with it.  Damn good Americans, thought Lonnie, smiling.  He remembered reading their stories when he was a kid.  He’d always wanted a shield like Cap’s.

He dozed off, having put his feet up on the desk.  When he woke up, it was dark outside.  I need to get home.  He had several miles to go.  He considered sleeping upstairs since it was so late already, but no.  He’d head for home.  This wasn’t his house.  He could visit, but he didn’t live here.  He went out into the night.

As he left the Oval Office, Lonnie Barksdale, the last American, turned out the light.

Chuck Wendig: How Does Your Garden Grow?

The Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge for this week is Acts of Rebellion.  1,000 words about rebellion in any shape, form, or context.  I had intended to keep my story away from our current political situation, as it seemed like low-hanging fruit, but it kept wandering back in that direction without any effort on my part.  I managed to keep it on the fringe of my events, but it still lies at the heart of the story.  My story is a 995 word dialogue.  Please to enjoy.


HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?

“It’s your move, Claire.”

“Oh, like I didn’t know.”

“Not.  It’s been your turn for almost thirty seconds.  You’ve just been sitting there, staring off into space.  What’s up?”

“Nothing.”

“Not.  You just tucked your hair back behind your ear.  How many times do I have to tell you?  That’s your biggest tell.  You only do that when you’re nervous or lying.  Which one is it?”

“It’s neither, Todd.  Really.  Here, let me take my—“

“Nope.  It’s too late for that, sister of mine.  You’ve got me thinking about this now.  Which is it?  Are you nervous or lying?  What’s really going on?”

“Neither one, I said.  Come on, Todd, let me play a card.”

“Nope.  Answer the question, Claire.”

“Who am I, Molly Ringwald?  Come on, Todd.”

“I want an answer.”

[sigh] “All right.  I’ll tell you.  You’re gonna laugh at me, though.”

“I won’t, honest.”

“You have to promise, Todd.  Promise you won’t laugh.”

“I’ll do my best.  I can’t promise, though.  Sometimes laughter is an involuntary reaction to the release of pent-up stress and Lord knows, it’s pent up with you taking so long to answer the question, Claire.”

“Shut and let me answer.”

“All right.  I’m shutting up.”

“It’s about time.  The answer is, ‘both’.”

“Both?”

“Both.”

“What does that even mean, both?”

“You asked if I was nervous or lying.  The answer is, both.  I’m nervous, and I was lying.  There is something up.”

“I knew it!  What is it?”

“You can’t laugh.”

“I’ll try.”

“And you can’t tell Mom and Dad, either.”

“That I can promise.  I won’t tell.”

“They’ll think it’s bad, Todd, really.  You can’t tell.”

“Okay, okay.  I won’t tell.”

“I…”

“Come on, Claire, it can’t be that bad.”

[sigh] “I went to the march last weekend.”

“The womens’ march?”

“Yeah.”

“So?  Mom had talked about going.  You even told her you were thinking about going with her if she did.”

“Todd!  Shut up and let me say this before I lose my nerve.”

[gasp] “Did you wear a pink hat, Claire?  Is that what this is about?”

“Goddammit, Todd, will you shut the hell up and let me talk?  You badger me to tell you what happened then you won’t shut up when I start talking!”

“Sorry, sis.  Geez.  You don’t have to be so…wait a minute.  Did you just cuss?  When did you start–”

“You know what?  Forget it.”

“Okay, Claire, wait!  I’m sorry!  Come back, please!  I’ll be quiet!  I promise!”

“Todd, this is serious.  I’m not playing around.  This is bigger than a game of cards, and it’s a lot bigger than a pink hat.”

“I’m listening, Claire, really.  Sit down.  Please?”

“…okay.”

“…Claire?”

“I did something this weekend, Todd, and I’m not sure if I should be proud of myself or not.  Mom and Dad would be horrified, and I think I should be horrified too, only…only I’m not.”

“What did you do?”

“I went down to the square and I spent some time walking around and talking to the marchers.”

“You talked to those women?”

“Yes!  Young women, old women, mothers, daughters, wives, girlfriends, grandmothers.  Not just women either, Todd.  I talked to the men who were with them—their husbands, boyfriends, fathers, sons.  Some of the men I talked to were even there without a woman, just marching in support.  I just walked around for a while talking to them, trying to understand why they were there.”

“Who cares why they were there!  They were blocking the streets, making noise, disturbing the city.  Why did you need to understand?”

“You sound like Dad.  We’re all part of the same family, Todd.  You’re my brother, so even when I know I have no chance of understanding why you do the things you do, I still want to try.  It was like that downtown.  Mom and Dad have been telling us all along how crazy these people are, and how much better things are going to be now.  I wanted to understand why these people don’t agree with them.”

“What did you find out?  Did they convert you?  Are you going to be on Clarksdale Street with a sign of your own next time they march?”

“No.  But now I know enough to understand why they think the way they do.  It’s got me thinking, and I’ve been talking to some friends at school, too, friends on both sides.  We’re getting discussion going without yelling and screaming at each other.  It’s pretty cool.”

“How’s that working out for you?”

“Better than asking Mom and listening to a two hour lecture about proper values.  We’re actually learning from each other.”

“So you’ll be in the street marching the time after next, then.”

“I don’t know, maybe.”

“Are you sure that’s what you want?  Do you want to be lined up next to those people?”

“I don’t know yet.  That’s what I’m trying to find out.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, my sister Claire, the reluctant rebel.”

“Not reluctant, Todd.  Call it cautious.  Call it wanting to explore all the options before I leap one way or the other.  I’ve been blindly following what Mom and Dad have been telling me my whole life.  Now I want to form my own opinions.”

“You want to justify your rebellion.”

“No!  I want to learn about both sides!  I want to be well-informed!”

“To Mom and Dad, wanting to learn about the other side of the issue is rebellion.  You might even decide to stay on their side, but they won’t care.  You went down there and talked to those people.  You’re dirty now.”

“Why don’t you come with me next time?  Get some dirt on yourself?”

“Not.  I’m comfortable where I am.”

“Behind your wall.”

“Where I’m staying nice and clean.”

“You have to play in the dirt if you’re going to grow a garden, Todd.”

“What’s growing in your garden, Claire?”

“I don’t know yet.  I’ll let you know when it sprouts, though.”