Archive for June, 2011

30th June
written by amber

Jonah To the Rescue

I’d recognized Jessie’s car in the lot beside the restaurant just down from the bar where I’d been going to meet my buddies. No, I’m not stalking her. I might go down her street when I’m heading out on my daily walk – it’s the street with the best access to the trail I like to use. I’ve seen her car outside her house. Don’t ask me how I know which house is hers.

I know, I know. She rejected me thoroughly the moment she saw my wheelchair, so why should I even give her a second thought? That was pretty cold, as the guys tell me way too often, when they aren’t urging me to keep trying to get her to date me because she’s ‘hot.’

It’s not that she’s hot, even though she is. It’s like she symbolizes something for me – that if I can get a girl like her to look at me twice, my life isn’t as f***ed as I thought it was, after the accident.  And, besides, the way she’s inspired me to get out of my funk, start exercising, start making plans, makes it worthwhile, even if she never agrees to go on a date with me. At least, I tell myself this, while fantasizing about ways to impress her.

When I rolled out of the bar an hour later, it was as if one of my fantasies had come true. My house is in the other direction, but I went past the restaurant just to see if she was still there, see if maybe I could get a glimpse of her face through the window. Instead, I heard angry voices coming from the parking lot and saw a man pushing a woman against a car. Against Jessie’s car.

I didn’t think twice. I got across the lot as fast as I could and bowled into the guy. Hit him in the back of the knees so that he fell against me. I had him in a headlock before he knew what hit him. Was it a fair fight? No, but I couldn’t exactly give him the opportunity to see that he was about to be tackled by a cripple, could I?

That’s when I started to wonder if I’d misread the situation. Maybe Jessie liked this creep. “Was he bothering you?” I asked, as he struggled in my grip.

“Yes,” she said, to my relief, and she grabbed him by the collar. “Steven, leave me alone. I am not and will never be your girlfriend. If you continue to harass me, I’ll get a restraining order. Do you understand?”

This last question came with a sharp shake, and the guy stuttered, “Yes. Okay.” She let him go and so did I, but I glared at him until he stumbled back onto the street.

Now what?

“I guess you’re my hero,” Jessie said, in a very un-thrilled tone. Not at all the way I’d imagined it. But she did ask if I wanted a ride home.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

The Jessie and Jonah stories are published every Thursday.

29th June
written by amber

Cool Driver

I just drive. You know, when things get too much at home. I won’t be one of those husbands who walks to the corner store for cigarettes and never comes home. For one thing, I don’t smoke. But I could just drive away one of these days.

Not that home is so bad – most of the time. I’m sure this is all normal stuff, what everyone has to put up with. The bills, the crying, you know. But driving, it’s hard to describe how it makes me feel.

I was twelve the first time I was alone behind the wheel, stretching my foot out to give it gas, learning the sensation of easing off the clutch. No way should I have been driving that car. My dad’s Pontiac. Did I get hell! But he never would have known if I hadn’t hit the lawn mower.

Could it be any cooler to be piloting a spaceship? Maybe not even as cool. Sure, you’d be going a million miles an hour, but you wouldn’t feel the pavement, you wouldn’t have any sensation of speed. And there’d be no one outside your spaceship to see how cool you are, except maybe some bug-eyed alien in their own spaceship probably much more cool than yours.

My car is cool. It’s a 1963 Corvette – really futuristic looking, at least a 1960′s vision of the future. I’ve got a lot more work to do on it, but I did the engine before I did the body so I could start driving it right away. Man, what a ride!

I hardly need an excuse to go out driving. But I do have one tonight. Boo hoo, she cries, I’m never home, and when I’m home I never do anything, and all our money goes to my stupid car (that’s a lie) and why don’t I stay home with the brats more often (didn’t I look after them just last week while she had a ‘me’ day with her friends?) and then she brought out the big guns, her father warned her that I would be a ‘poor provider.’ And that pushed my buttons all right, ‘cuz if I’m such a poor provider, how come she gets to stay home with the kids while I drag myself to work every day, to that stinking job that I hate, and she knows I hate it, and why is our mortgage so big except that her father had to get involved, pressure us to buy this house, which I really couldn’t afford.

So I hit her.

And now she’s taken the brats and took a taxi to her parent’s house.

And I’m driving.

And I’m cool.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

Well, I had no idea for today’s story so I used a first line from a blues song, Cool Driver by Johnny Shines and Snooky Prior.

28th June
written by amber

The Cliff

The body lay at the bottom of the cliff. Craig had been on the trail for two hours and, since it was his day off, he hadn’t brought his cell phone or his Parks radio or any other way to contact ‘civilization.’  All he had was a bivvy sack and enough munchies for 3 or 4 days.

The body was nearly 60 feet down, he estimated, but was it a body or someone in need of rescue? There was only one way to make sure. No one else was going to come by to help. He’d deliberately chosen a trail that was not open to the public, wanting, hoping and needing some alone time to figure things out.

Before he’d picked his way down through the steep dense brush beside the cliff, he’d had another glimpse of the body and realized this was not a member of the public, this was one of his own. A woman, but he couldn’t tell who. She hadn’t stirred from her original position, splayed across the boulders at the foot of the cliff. He could see blood now, red blood on the ochre rocks. A lot of it.

When he emerged from the woods and ran toward the body, he recognized her before he reached her. One puffy upper arm emerged from the regulation Park Service tunic, mouse brown hair obscured her face. Steva. Alive and dancing at the party last night. Undeniably dead today. The extreme angle of her back arched over a huge boulder left no doubt.

When he reached her, one touch to that cold and contorted body confirmed what did not need confirming. She was dead and he could see how it had happened. A mountain bike lay in the bushes a little further down the hillside.

Alive and dancing last night. He’d danced with her, too polite to refuse when she asked. Later, in the kitchen, Bart had teased, “I saw you dance with Steva.”

He’d gripped Bart’s arm fervently. “Only because she asked me.”

“You don’t fool me. You like your girls meaty, don’t you, Craig?”

“No, I don’t,” he protested, meaning that he didn’t like girls at all, he liked Bart. “She’d have to get on the trails and loose like a hundred pounds before I looked at her twice.”

A sound, like an indrawn breath. And her ample ass disappearing rapidly down the hall.

Steva was dead. And he had murdered her.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This story is a good one for me today, as tonight I’m doing a murder mystery event for a group of guests at our Black Cat Guest Ranch.

27th June
written by amber

Cat in a Tree

Sheba has figured out where she is. She’s out, a place she’s heard about all her life. Amanda always says, “Don’t let the cat out!” When she was younger, Sheba tried many times to get to out, and she watched it through the windows constantly, wishing she could catch the birds there.

Now she has learned that birds are not so easy to catch, nor is anything else. She’s searched and searched and has not found one bowl of kibbles. The only good thing she has discovered about out is that it’s one huge litter box. She can make a hole in the litter almost anywhere, do what she needs to do, cover it up and never in a thousand years have to return to the vicinity of that spot. Dana, Amanda’s maid who has the chore of changing Sheba’s litter boxes would love this.

Sheba did eat something yesterday. First some flies, although she knows that Amanda hates her eating flies. They didn’t fill her up so she found some soft moist things beside the water. A few of them got away from her when she tried to seize them with her de-clawed front feet, but she figured out how to hold them with her teeth until they stopped moving, then – somehow – she knew the way to eat them, although they tasted very nasty. Not like kibble.

Sheba slept last night underneath a plant with sweet-smelling flowers that reminded her of flowers Amanda keeps in vases on the table. The plant had spiny branches and she was hoping they would protect her from the dogs she could hear barking nearby.

She knows what dogs are. Some of the shows Amanda takes her to have cats and dogs, and once a large dog escaped from his kennel and dashed into the cat area, knocking over several cat carriers and barking, nearly frightening them all to death.

This morning, as she returns to the water to catch more soft things, the sound of barking grows louder and suddenly a dog is bounding toward her. One of the bad man’s friends is there, shouting, “There she is! Brute got her scent!”

And the bad man shouts back, “Hell, that dog better not lay a tooth on her. She’s worth $5000!”

Sheba dashes into the place filled with tall wooden things. She doesn’t imagine that the spiny bush will stop Brute for a second, so she does what she does best when she’s in trouble. No hutches or curtains for her to climb here, so she goes up one of the tall wooden things. Up as high as she can go.

“Shit, Ron, she’s gone up a tree.”

“Okay, I’ll take Brute back to the trailer. She’ll never come down if he’s hanging about at the bottom. You wait until she comes down.”

“What if she doesn’t?”

“Wayne, cat always come down eventually.”

Sheba settles comfortably on a branch. There are birds up here, and flies. There’s even water she can lick from the leaves. She’s not coming down.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This story is a sequel to Story 56.

26th June
written by amber

Hard Winter

The winter was hard. Deep snow covered the grasses.  Her legs and those of her aunts, sisters, cousins and daughter were scraped and bloodied from digging for food. Their ribs showed and they became weak with starvation.

They had to move. She knew the direction, they all did. Every day they trended slowly in that direction, stepping easily on the hard drifts over the three line barriers which were now just one line. But something was missing. They were supposed to move more quickly and they were supposed to follow the large dark ones.

She didn’t know where the large dark ones were. They found animals neither large enough nor dark enough and they stayed near them for several days. There was food – dry grasses in a trampled area, the warmth and feet of the black and white animals turning it to mud, even in the bitter cold. But, as always when they stayed near such animals, two legs came and made loud sounds and turned canines loose to harry them, and so they moved on.

Her heart rose when at last they found the large dark ones, hemmed in by a barrier almost too tall to jump over. But these large ones did not move in the correct direction and they aggressively defended the grass they uncovered.

She felt compelled to stay with the large dark ones and so, when the two legs came with something very large and fast-moving and chased the large dark ones into it, she and her aunts, sisters, cousins and daughter followed it as it sped away. They could not hope to catch it, yet the scent of the large dark ones lingered in the air. At last they came to a canyon full of two legs and fast things and loud noises. Frightened, they dashed into an area of trees and open meadows, beside a river.

The grass was not buried so deeply there and they stayed, reassured at first by the scent of the large dark ones coming from the other side of the river. After that faded, they still remained, growing less frantic with hunger and disturbed only occasionally by canines who came into the meadow with two legs wearing sticks on their feet. Some of the two legs brought delicious grass seeds for them to eat.

Gradually her longing to travel south faded and was forgotten.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

My gratitude to Wilma Rempel Enns for suggesting this story idea about pronghorn antelope historically travelling south with the large herds of buffalo.