Monday Matchup Writing Challenge: In Your Pocket …

WRITING PROMPT: In Your Pocket …
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In your pocket: A ring, a bullet and a match. In the diner, you hold your breath. Write this scene.

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12 thoughts on “Monday Matchup Writing Challenge: In Your Pocket …

  1. alton100

    Before I could protest, it was at my feet, so I picked it up and began worming through.
    “Are you sure about this, Roger?” I asked. “You’re not going to scare me or anything, right?”
    A chuckle was his response.
    “No, just come in.”
    It wasn’t a long journey. My flashlight immediately found Roger’s face in the darkness. When I reached him, he took the flashlight and aimed it at the walls all around us. We were in a little room. There was a poster of a duckling, and some crayon illustrations taped on the walls. I was in awe.
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  3. Kim

    The young man sat at the table in the diner, fingering the three items in his pocket. He watched the other people in the diner, and held his breath, waiting, trying to decide who his next mark would be. In all, there had been three, so far. He pulled the three items out of his pocket and looked them over, a sense of macabre fascination building as he studied them. The first: a ring, taken from the finger of a woman newly married. The second: a bullet, recovered from a police officer’s gun. The third: a match, taken from a smoker of Cuban cigars. The weight of the trophies was comforting to him. Now: a decision. Who was next? The young couple sitting at the table near the door, with the two children? The senior citizens seated at the counter? Perhaps the waitress in the tight fitting pants and a blouse that showed off her full figure? Most likely her, but no. Looking left, he saw the most startling pair of eyes he’d ever encountered. So blue they were almost red, very nearly black. Long, flowing, copper hair. Curly. He knew then that she was the one.

    “Hi beautiful,” he said. “What are you doing here?”

    “Waiting to meet my sisters,” she answered back, sweetly. Sisters. Plural. Like her? This could prove interesting.

    Smiling seductively, she sauntered out the door. He followed her, finally catching up with her at the end of the block where his car was parked, ready to grab her arm and force her into the back. He reached out for her, drew his hand back as though it had been burned, and found himself on the ground. As he tried to find the strength to stand, she turned to face him, and he gasped at the subtle changes.

    Where her hair had been curly before, it now writhed with a reptilian life of its own, hissing and slithering around her head. Her eyes had turned blood red, and red tears traced a pattern down her face. Her nose had lengthened, and become more like that of some feral animal, a wolf or a dog. From somewhere she had obtained a metal studded whip, and now she cracked it above her head and bared her teeth at him. Was this reality, or a nightmare?

    He blinked, wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, and blinked again. “Who are you?” he asked.

    “I am justice,” she barked. The young man blinked again, decided he must be dreaming. This was all becoming very strange. “Why are you here?” he asked.

    “I’m on the job. You have broken the laws of humanity. The evidence is in your pocket, and it will be the instrument of your destruction.”

    He fingered the rough facets of the ring, the cold, smooth metal of the bullet’s casing, and the splintery wood of the match, as he pondered what she meant. He saw their faces in his mind, the terror in their eyes as he took his prizes and their lives. He felt himself sinking into the blackness swirling through his mind, and tried desperately to raise himself up out of it.

    “Why?” he asked, laboring to clear his head enough to speak, but only able to free the one word from the prison of his mind.

    “Because you never saw us watching from the shadows. Because we are protectors of the innocents, and we maintain the balance. Because it is our job to hunt down those who break the law, and punish them with madness.”


    “No, neither demon. It is time for me to go now, and I will take with me your mind, but your memories are your own, and you may keep them. I will see you in your dreams.” Neither angel nor demon? Then, what? The thought swirled up through the void. He heard one single word, hissed by the snakes in her hair, “Tisiphone,” and as the madness took him, for an instant, he thought he understood.

  4. Trish Crew

    “Honey,” said Lester, “We need to talk.”
    “Sure,” said Michelle as she sat down.
    Lester sat in silence that filled the room. He breathed heavily and kept opening his mouth but not speaking.
    “What’s up?” she asked warily.
    “Honey, I….” The words were too hard to speak.
    Michelle jumped in, “Did you lose your job? Again?”
    “No. This is something important, something I’ve been wanting to tell you for years, but I tried and….”
    Michelle became tense and angry. She slid into the corner of the couch and scowled sourly while Lester found his words. He spoke like a child in trouble.
    “You know I’ve been away from home at least three nights a week since we’ve been married. I told you this was a job requirement. That was a lie.”
    Michelle’s eyes opened wider and then narrowed to a slit. “Then, explain the hotel charges in Ypsilanti, Traverse City, and Indianapolis!”
    Lester directed his eyes at her jutted chin. “Those charges were legitimate. I was at each one of those places when I said I was.”
    “Did you take girls there with you? – Don’t tell me you were alone watching HBO!”
    “Well, I didn’t stay there, exactly. I checked in, though,” said Lester.
    “Look, Lester, I’m getting bored with this little tale and angry that you’re only half-telling, so just give it to me. Where is all this leading?”
    “It’s leading to something that happened when I was out selling.” Lester waited a moment and then looked at the ceiling like he was waiting for the words to float down. “There is this woman….”
    “Aha! I knew it. No problem. Just dump her.”
    “You see I can’t just dump her. She, Mary is her name, lives in Traverse City, and over the years, well, we’re in love. We have so much in common, and she looks forward to my visits when I’m there.”
    “So,” said Michelle, “you are in love and have a lot in common. So what? Big deal. Just tell her your wife found out and it’s over.
    “Even if I did, the problem wouldn’t be over.”
    “How come?” she said with increased impatience. “Do you love other dollies in Ypsilanti and Indianapolis?”
    Lester began to enjoy this. In all his life, he had never gotten Michelle so riled up and she didn’t even know the truth, yet. “Dollies, no,” he said with his head down to hide his smirk. “Just a couple nice girls – now I don’t want you to think that they are like Mary,” he added quickly.
    “Mary, again. What next! Out with it Lester or I’m leaving.”
    Lester held his head high as he rose from the couch and leaned over her angry body with delight. He lifted her chin so he could see right in her eyes and said, “Mary is my first wife and she doesn’t know I have a second.

  5. Karen

    ‘What am I doing here? This is a mistake. I’m not even sure I’m right. I should leave before that cop gets here.’ I slide my hand in the pocket of my red jacket, to make sure they were still there. I had put them in a sandwich baggie; a bullet I found on the floor, a used match, and the ring. I found them in his apartment this morning. I went because I knew he would be at work; I didn’t want to face him after the fight we had last night. I’d left my notebook there, and had to get it before class.
    The first thing that hit me when I opened the door was the smell. For a guy, my boyfriend keeps his place pretty clean, and he’s not a smoker. So, why did his place reek of smoke? I was scared there might be a fire somewhere, so I checked the apartment. I found the source of the smell in the bathroom; the clothes he was wearing last night were in the hamper. That’s where the smell was coming from. Where did he go last night after the fight? I picked up his shirt, and the match fell on the floor. I bent to pick it up, and my foot slipped on something. A bullet. I know he has a gun; I’ve seen it. He usually keeps it in a box at the top of his closet.
    I jumped when my cell rang. As I pulled it out of my pocket, I noticed a glint of gold on the floor. I bent to pick it up. It was a ring. An engagement ring. Was it for me? I answered the phone absently. It was Sharon, my roommate.
    “Oh my gosh, Kara! Did you hear?”
    “Hear what?”
    “About Kevin?”
    “What about him?”
    “He’s dead!”
    “Yeah! There was a fire at his condo last night. The firefighters found his body inside. Word is that he was already dead.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “They say he was shot. Someone killed him, then set a fire to cover it up. Isn’t that crazy!”
    “Yeah, crazy.” I hung up and stared at the objects in my hand. I could still hear our fight from the night before. It was about Kevin. He thought I was cheating on him with Kevin. Its not true; Kevin is just my lab partner. He wouldn’t listen; he just kept yelling at me. Then he left. Where did he go?
    The waitress plops my drink on the table and I jump. As I thank her, I finger the ring, feeling the diamond through the plastic. I can’t do it I stand up to leave, but too late. The diner door opens, and the detective walks in. I sink down into the booth. He spots me and walks over.
    “Miss Young?”
    “You said you have some information for me?”
    I can’t help it. The tears flow.
    “Yes. I think I know who killed Kevin Lore.”

  6. Neets

    I can remember back to the days when I was three years old. That’s pretty far back for a man of fifty years one might think, but I think it depends on what is going on in your life. Cartoons and spilled milk do not lasting memories make.

    The reason I can remember those days with unusual clarity is because my father had just been murdered, supposedly by men in white robes who came to his business at the auto shop he owned. The story goes that they tortured him and tied him to the bumper of a car, he was dragged for a pace, and then shot in the head.

    Of course I didn’t hear the story until I was much older, but what I do remember is the mourning of my Mother, and the screams of agony from her and my Grandmother on that day, and the day after that, and many days and nights and weeks to follow.

    That there was a rape of a white woman in the area was supposedly the reason for the "taking of blood" revenge, against a man who was home with us the night of the rape, who just happened to be working late in his garage on a transmission on the night of the revenge.

    My Mom has since passed on, and of course Grandma as well, I did make good for my family, I went to school, earned good grades, entered into accounting and have had a good business. My kids are grown now, and they do well for themselves.

    So here I am in this cafe, being able to remember the days when I was three years old. The gift for my fiftieth birthday came in mail, a letter instructing me to visit our local bank and use the key that was included to open a safe deposit box.

    Inside the deposit box was another envelope, which contained Dad’s wedding ring, with an inscription from Mom inside the band. Mom swore the ring was stolen from his hand, which in truth was, just not who she suspected. Also there was a spent bullet. and a note.

    I attended to your father’s remains. I brought your father to my home after he was attacked. I removed this bullet from his brain, and kept it, hoping the ring and the bullet will lend some credence to the knowledge I am giving to you. This bullet ended your father’s life. The bullet came from the gun of Wayne Dawes. I hope he is dead and burning in hell for what he did.

    I’m no fool, I know they would murder me or hurt my family if I were to come out at this time and fight for the justice your father deserves. I am a coward, a coward who loves his family too much to subject my family to what yours must endure.

    This is all I can do for you Reginald, hoping this knowledge will answer the question that is burning in your heart.

    Dr. Milton Pryor"

    Dr. Pryor has been dead almost three years now. Wayne Dawes is sixty seven years old. I doubt Wayne can remember back as far as I can. He lives in the same run down house. He spent some time in jail, for burglary. He lives with his grand daughter, and his three great grandchildren.

    The children are at school and work. The grand daughter is also at work and Wayne is in bed asleep. Underneath the bedroom resides a homemade explosive device that requires fire. It’s been sitting there for almost thirty minutes now.

    I sit drinking coffee, and in my coat pocket is Dad’s ring, the bullet and a match. One match. If the match catches and takes life I will know it’s meant to be, if the match should sputter and blow out I will see it for a sign.

    The fate of Wayne Dawes lies with the intention of the winds.

    I can see it’s time to go, I think the winds may be picking up, and I don’t know if I want them to.

  7. Zac

    @Martha and Mark: Haha, perhaps one day! I’ve always tried to keep the focus on everyone else’s stories. (And, I believe you guys have the short fiction skills that would blow this journalism-trained scribe out of the water.) Maybe I should start posting covertly under pseudonyms … wait, does that mean I can win the swag?!

  8. Mark James

    I’m lookin. . . and lookin. . . nope. . . don’t see any Zac story. . . hmmmm. . . why is that, Zac?

    The diner was packed. It felt like he’d picked the midnight special on every trucker’s map. He watched them come in, slide into cracked leather seats, flirt with waitresses who knew their names.

    He wasn’t waiting, he told himself. Because men like him didn’t wait.

    A woman with scarily perfect hair and rigidly straight teeth was on the flat screen television, smiling about the bad news she was telling. Who, he wondered, needed to know the news at two in the morning? It couldn’t wait till a man had a decent night’s sleep?

    Even before the squeaky door swung all the way open and let in a cold blast of January, Nelson knew it was her. She strode across the cracked red and white linoleum to his table, moved like she had a homing beacon and he was flashing.

    “Took him forever to leave for work,” she said, sliding in across from him.

    “I don’t get a good morning kiss?”

    She ran a hand through her black hair, wet with snow. “It’s not morning till sunrise. And that doesn’t happen here,” she said. “Duncy’s too small. Sun skips right over us.”

    Looking out the window into snow swirling down from a black sky, Nelson could believe it. He reached into his pocket.

    “How come you’re holding your breath?” she said.

    He’d chosen that table on purpose. The bars of fluorescent lights didn’t reach into their back corner, couldn’t show their secrets. Nelson touched smooth metal, let out his breath. “If he were dead, would you marry me?”

    She leaned over the table, unbuttoned her black shirt, showed him just the top of her red lace bra. “You don’t need to marry me.”

    “Maybe not,” Nelson said. “But I’m feeling generous.”

    Lissa swung her hand at his face. Nelson caught her arm, pulled her close, kissed her. “You look beautiful in lace.”

    “And you’ll look good in a black eye if you don’t let me go.” Her voice was a low hiss.

    He laughed, pulled her closer. “Hurt me.”

    She kissed him instead and Nelson wanted it to end just about when the sun came up in Duncy.

    Letting her lean back, Nelson pulled his hand out of his pocket. “Ready for a bedtime story?”

    “That kiss got me ready for a whole lot,” Lissa said.

    He laid a bullet on the Formica table. “First I shoot him. In the head if I can. Or I’ll do a chest shot.”

    “You stop talking like that.” Lissa buttoned her shirt, her hands trembling.

    Nelson slid a match next to the bullet. “Then I’ll burn down your house. Don’t worry. I know how to start fires. You’ll be at work.”

    “Jesus,” Lissa said. “You’re scaring hell out of me.”

    “Then I’ll give you this.” He pulled a ring from his pocket.

    She picked it up, slid it over her slender wrist like a bracelet. “Little big for a wedding band.”

    “It’s for the shower curtain you’ll get, so you can wash me clean when I’m done.”

    Lissa laid the ring next to the match and the bullet, her green eyes caught between lust and horror. “What do you expect me to say?”

    Nelson knew he had her. “Yes.”

  9. CJillFriend

    Bullet Match Ring
    By Jill Friend

    May the best man win— anonymous

    “I’ll take the rigamortus Frankenstien,” the screen yelled at her. “Sorry, I’m yelling; I have Terets.”
    “Sir, everything you are typing into the screen is reading:
    One egg with a bacon for eyebrows and a hash brown mouth.
    Sir, if this is correct, can you please say yes?”
    The screen yells back at her, “Why are you whispering?”
    “Sir, please push ‘yes’ for your rigamortus Frankenstien and pull forward to the second window.”
    “Petunias!” yells the screen.

    A man sat in his car until twilight in a McDonald’s parking lot in downtown Detroit. He has a bullet the size of a small Moses hanging from his rearview mirror. He eats his breakfast platter because he pretends he has Teret’s, and he moved to Teret County three years ago. He thought first to infiltrate the kindest hearts in the churches.
    “Scream at them, and they will think Jesus Christ came back!” he yelled at the pastor, walking in for pastoral evaluation day.
    Report from The Teret County Unison.
    “Every Sunday, Patricio Amboglossia, the newest member of our church, yells at me to ‘cock the revolver!’. Whatever that means. But if you come to church next week, I will tell you all about Hezbakiah,” stated the pastor of the Mission of Hopeful Hearts.
    The man ate the eyebrows and put the newspaper article back in the glove box. “Ground Hog Day!” he yelled at the ninety-two-year-old lady, who pulled in to next him, except she forgot to put in her hearing aid when she left her house on 107 South Lakeberry Street.
    The Missus of 107 South Lakeberry Street opens the man’s passenger side door. She eats her eyebrows.
    “How did you get that at this time of night?” he asks her.
    “I went in and yelled, ‘Patricio Amboglossia works for the CIA!”
    The woman hit the driver’s side ejection button of Patricio Amboglossia’s 1959 Cheville Continential. She reentered her Dodge Neon, drove away, and all the customers in McDonald’s waved from inside the glossy glass walls. She throws out her left ring and lights a match from van Dyke’s Auto Repair.

  10. Martha W

    Zac, loved this one! Yours should be posted here tomorrow, right??


    Holly took a booth close to the door. She dropped her purse on the torn red cushion next to her. She didn’t need to look at the menu. It hadn’t changed much in fifteen years.

    "Regular?" Petey called from behind the mustard yellow counter. He had one of those diner caps on, like Mel from Alice’s Diner. The walls were white and the floor was checkered.

    It hadn’t changed much in fifteen years either.

    She nodded once. "Sure."

    "Grilled Cheese, Phil." He hollered into the back.

    Brandon’s dad must have finally got a job, Holly thought. She slouched in her seat, slid one hand in her pocket. Smooth metal, rough wood and sharp gemstone. One, two, three. All there.

    Which to use? She closed her eyes as she rested her head on the back of the seat.

    "Here, beautiful."

    She heard the slide of a glass plate on her table, heard a fresh new voice in this stale old place. Holly opened her eyes to meet the dark blue gaze of a stranger. "Thanks."

    He cocked his head. "I’m Philip."

    She looked at him a moment and then told her biggest lie all year. "I’m not interested."

    "Me neither. What’s your name?"

    Holly’s eyes narrowed briefly before she told him.

    "You look like you’ve got heavy thoughts, Holly."

    "I don’t need some do-gooder trying to fix me. Let me eat in peace." She’d given herself until the end of her favorite sandwich to choose.

    Use the bullet, burn the house or sell her mama’s ring.

    Any way she looked at it – she was leaving town tonight.

    "Go ahead and eat." He tapped a finger on her plate. "What’s so important in your pocket, Holly-girl?"

    She opened her mouth to say it wasn’t his business but stopped. Instead, she pulled her hand out and lay the three objects on the table between them.

    He fingered the bullet before tucking it in his shirt pocket. "Door number one is no good. That would mean you couldn’t go on a date with me tonight."

    Holly frowned, mute in the face of his audacity.

    Philip picked up the match, snapped it and tossed it with her crumpled napkin on the side of her plate. "Door number two is no good either. It means you wouldn’t go on a date with me tonight."

    Carefully, he lifted the diamond ring, letting the light from the window glance off the precious stone. "Hhm. Now this one I like. This one means you not only go out on that date with me… but you stick around a while after."

    Her heart beat out of control as she stared at him, afraid to follow his lead. The slow grin that curled his lips tipped the scales. She quirked an eyebrow, snagged the ring from his fingers. "You’ll have to buy your own. This one was my mama’s."

    She held her breath as Philip slid out of the booth.

    He winked at her. "It’s a deal, Holly-girl."

  11. Elizabeth

    I am in the diner, holding my breath, not at all ready to make this decision. We’re not ready to make this decision. Isn’t this why we’re so disastrously beautiful in the first place? We spiral up and down without any direction, without either of us standing up and saying, “Enough!”. No, we do not make decisions. We avoid them.

    What has he left me with here? Alone in this diner. An unpaid bill. He knows damn well I don’t have any money. So I have to sit here. And think. And decide.

    Inside my pocket, I twiddle the ring between my fingers. I can’t even look at it. The rough cut of its edges only makes my nerves spike higher and higher. But then, there’s something smooth. Something cold. I opt for the smooth, cold bullet and hold it in my hand. How soothing the familiar shape is. This is who we are. Destructive, tragic, cold. If I have to make a decision, may it be made with this. One bullet. For him? Or for me?

    The uncontrollable tapping of my free hand must be stopped and so I hide it in my other pocket. A soft prick. Bastard never carries a lighter and so matches can be found scattered everywhere in my life these days. Could be a fire hazard. Or a blessing. I could decide everything with just one spark. Burn it all down, never look back. There would be nothing left of what we’ve done. Nothing left of what he’s done to me. And maybe… nothing left of him.

    Rough edges again. The ring is back between my fingers.

    The deadliest choice of them all.


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