Writing Prompt: Riddles in red, yellow and black


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In scene, explain why there’s a red and yellow substance on your shoes, a black one on your gloves, and a smile on your face.

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8 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: Riddles in red, yellow and black

  1. Tom T.

    It was almost sunset on Marco. How many have I witnessed? Coming to this little piece of expensive real-estate, right off the Florida’s west coast for twenty years has been a great benefit for doing a little job for the Boss now and again.
    He smiled, then chuckled, “Hell who would have thunk it”
    He was lying down on the bench watching the great yellow, orangish glow spread out from behind the cloud cover that makes the most beautiful sunsets. He couldn’t see the tourist except as small blurs as he was recounting the most profitable day of his life.
    “How could it worked out this way? A boat load of untraceable cash without anyone knowing that he had it.”
    Now he started to laugh out loud and he had to sit up. He looked around to see if anyone was watching him. He put his head down just in case and he noticed the yellow and red paint spatters on his Sketchers.
    “Shit, that fucking Frankie. He never could control his temper.”
    He loved those shoes, “Ah, who cares, I can buy a boat load of those”.
    Just the same he recalled how Vee could have still been around if he hadn’t made Frankie mad about a lousy 1000 bucks. “All that asshole had to do was pay and he’d be around to take out that charter on his 40 foot Whaler, just like every day. But what did he do, make Frankie go crazy and bend his metal bat over his head!”
    “Christ, why would I feel sorry for Vee he has given me, kind a, $400,000 in small bills, that no one knows I have. By the way, thanks, Vee, you’re a hell of a guy”. He laughed again.
    “Don’t forget Frankie, he helped too”.
    He remembered running into Frankie at the Italian Deli, the only on Marco, and he asked if I wanted to go along on his last collection and they’d go to Joey’s for some pasta.
    “Sure, why not. Who’s the pigeon?
    “What do you care, some asshole, who’s trying to stiff the Boss.”
    No one knew he was with Frankie and with them both dead-Vee from Frankie’s bat and Frankie from my gun he felt he was entitled to what Frankie had collected that day.
    No one saw what went down, since the only two houses next to Vee’s were empty for the summer.
    Frankie was swinging that bat like he was the “Mick”. He was swinging so fast that he was hitting everything close to Vee, including the paint cans Vee was only a few minutes ago using for a new name for his boat. But Frankie was more surprised when looked up, breathing like a marathoner, just in time to see his life get snuffed.
    “What the hell, he was a prick, anyway.”
    He pulled off his latex gloves, smeared black with gun powder, and laughed when he saw the new name on Vee’s boat, “The Catcher”.

  2. Mark James

    Zac. . hmm. . Tuesday. . . does that mean you’re hijacking your own blog?

    “What do you mean you blew it up?” Hilton closed his eyes, tried to reign in his temper. It didn’t work. “You were supposed to take out one guy,” he said. “Not blow up the whole freaking neighborhood.”

    “It was a little bomb.” Laine was wiping off his boots. “He was fixing up his place,” he said. “Look at this. Yellow paint all over my shoes.”

    “I don’t care about your shoes,” Hilton said. “What do I tell them when they call?”

    Laine scraped blood and paint off the soles of his boots. “They’re cops. Make up something.”

    “Like what? He was using rocket fuel in his backyard grill?”

    “He wasn’t the highest branch in the tree,” Laine said. “Sounds about right.”

    The reason Hilton could talk to Laine the way he did, and walk away in one piece was that he was Laine’s brother; well, that and Hilton liked to do all the paperwork. Sometimes Laine couldn’t believe how many people wanted to know about a kill.

    “What are you doing?” Hilton said. “Stop getting all that black goop on my desk.”

    “We’re halfway there, aren’t we?” Laine wiped his gloves on the arms of his wooden chair. “This is my last job for the summer. I need a vacation.”

    “We don’t get time off.” Hilton took a packet of wet wipes from his top desk drawer, cleaned the mess his brother had made. “And you’re not sneaking out of the country. She’s not worth it.”

    “Not your business.” Laine got to his feet, his hands by his sides, his face dark and still. “Don’t talk to me about her.”

    Hilton’s chair squeaked as he sat back, met his brother’s eyes. “Don’t try scaring me.”

    “I’m not trying,” Laine said. “Not yet.”

    “She’s poison.” Hilton’s untraceable cell phone rang.

    Laine was looking out the window when Hilton said, “Good job. They’re calling it a house fire. Tragic accident.”

    “Why don’t you like her?”

    “I don’t know.” Hilton’s voice was low, tired. “Maybe because she has brown eyes. Maybe because it’s too dangerous right now.”

    “You didn’t care about the others,” Laine said.

    “They didn’t last long enough for me to care.”

    “How many more?”

    “I don’t know,” Hilton said. “Six, maybe eight.”

    Laine and Hilton were in a database that no one would admit to knowing about. They were both on death row, serving out their time. They’d signed a contract for a Top Secret work release program. They got a list every month; three names, one kill, their choice. So far, they’d worked off half their sentence.

    Laine tugged a cord, let the blinds fall over the window. “What are you doing when we’re done?”

    “Moving to the moon.”

    “Paris,” Laine said.

    “New York.” Hilton scrubbed his slender hands over his smoothly shaved face. “And try not to blow our monthly budget on the room.”

    “If you weren’t my brother,” Laine said on his way out, “I’d do something nice for you.”

    “Now,” Hilton said, “you’re scaring me.”

    After Laine had closed the door quietly behind him, Hilton pulled a sheet of cream colored parchment from under his desk blotter. It had come in yesterday’s mail. Three names. All of them women. Two of them crossed out.

    The one left would be spending her last weekend with his brother in New York.

  3. Angela R.

    Kari and Alex climbed out of a teal, hatchback car and into the wild unknown. The trees towering over her were as big as skyscrapers and the air swirled with the scent of blackberries. She flip-flopped her way over to an abandoned camp site and found nothing left but an ashen fire pit and footprints in the dusty earth. This place was going to be perfect.
    Alex scanned the perimeter with confidence. He glanced at Kari, hoping she was just as sure as he. Her wondrous gaze told him she was pleased, and he walked over and brushed a kiss across her lips as he headed back to the car to unload.
    The tumbling water of the Clackamas River drowned out any night time noises. Kari and Alex sat closely, with their hands held up to a blazing fire.
    "Are you ready," Alex asked.
    "I think so. You’re sure this is going to be okay?"
    "I promise, baby. It will be fun," Alex replied reassuringly.
    Alex reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out the two white sugar cubes and handed one to Kari. They both placed them in their mouths and let them dissolve.
    "I’m actually hungry. Will you get the hot dogs before this stuff hits," Kari asked, suddenly realizing she hadn’t eaten since breakfast.
    Alex grilled two hot dogs and they ate quickly. While Kari downed her last dog, she watched the tall Oregon trees sway around her. They looked like oil paintings. Kari stood and walked over to them to touch. They felt like trees but still looked smeared as if someone had painted them just for her. Alex came behind her and placed his hand on the branch too. It looked like rainbows, but still, felt like a tree.
    Alex and Kari danced and moved around the camp, eventually, completely naked. The forest night watched them both as they made love and rolled in the dirt. Finally, after many hours, Kari and Alex laid themselves down on their sleeping mats. They held hands and watched the sky turn light until they both dozed off.

    Kari awoke with a call to nature. She was careful not to wake Alex as she tiptoed into the trees to pee. She was still naked and the cool morning felt good on her dusty skin.
    Kari walked over to the chairs by the fire to put more branches on top. As she walked around the pit, she stepped into a large pile of mustard and ketchup. A glimpse of last night’s dancing popped into her mind and Kari remembered jumping on the bottles with glee.
    She gently pulled some of the cooled down logs from the outside of the fire pit and placed them on top. Once the fire was up and running again, Kari sat down in her chair. She was still naked, with ketchup and mustard covering her feet. Kari smiled as she wiped her soot smeared hands across her face and looked at Alex. It had been a good night.

  4. Christine P.

    I did it, I thought to myself, unable to suppress the grin that spread across my face. I glanced down at my beloved Chuck Taylors, but even the gooey ketchup and mustard splattered on them didn’t dampen my smile.

    I did it, I thought again. She’s finally getting what she deserved.

    Oh, yes, Serita would finally get what she deserved when she opened Hot Diggity Dawg tomorrow. For two months, I had stood mutely by as Serita berated her staff, including me. Lazy, incompetent, and idiotic were some of the nicer words she used to describe us to our faces. Other words, I didn’t even want to think.

    I had stuck it out only because I needed the money, and in Devil’s Acre, there wasn’t much use for a wisecracking journalism graduate. The town’s only newspaper had shuttered right before my graduation, and with jobs in the city requiring at least two years of experience, I had reluctantly moved back to Devil’s Acre. I had no money, looming student loans, and a stepmother who refused to let me hide in the basement while I frantically sent out resumes.

    Instead, my stepmother, Jean, had told me that Serita was hiring help at her hot dog stand. I had stared at Jean as if she had grown two heads. “Jean,” I explained, “I’m a vegetarian.”

    “You don’t have to eat them, just cook them,” she snarled.

    “Jean,” I said again, patiently, “I’m trying to find a writing job.”

    Jean had snorted. “You and how many other useless journalism graduates? I told your father to make you major in something that would actually get you a job…”

    I had tuned Jean out after that, but later, my father wordlessly handed me a job application for Hot Diggity Dawg. I had filled it out, and on the same day I dropped it off at Serita’s hot dog stand, I had dropped off my resume at both law offices in town for a secretarial job. Neither office called; Serita did.

    Yesterday, Serita, in a fit of rage, threw a package of hot dog buns at my head. “The hot dogs are pure beef, you moron,” she said, as a customer walked away. I had told her the truth, that the hot dogs were pork. Serita was furious; the customer, who had been wearing a delicate Star of David around her neck, was probably relieved.

    I threw the hot dog buns back at her. “You do know that I could sue you for that, right?” I asked her, struggling to stay calm.

    “Get out of my sight!” she yelled. I took my apron off, threw it on the floor, and flipped her the bird. I was liberated.

    Now, with oily black goo from opening the ketchup and mustard vats staining my gloves, I laughed at the mess. It was childish, but it would be effective: Serita would spend all morning cleaning up the mess by herself.

  5. Vanessa Gant

    My husband and I were in another one of our fights. Alex said it was the pregnancy hormones, which made me even more mad. I wanted to paint the nursery yellow because I thought pink was too generic. Alex didn’t like yellow, he wanted to keep it white.
    “The baby isn’t going to know it’s living in a white room,” he had said.
    “So you’re okay with our baby having a boring room?” I argued.
    He just rolled his eyes and kissed me goodnight.
    My sister came over the next day while and brought a couple buckets of paint with her. We painted the room yellow and it ended up looking really good. I waited for Alex to come home so I could show him the nursery, but as the hours went by, I became less excited. First, I was worried. What if something had happened to him? I thought. Then, I was angry. I hope something did happen to him because he probably is cheating on me. Then my cell phone started ringing. I didn’t have to look at the name because Alex’s personalized ring tone was playing.
    “Alex?” I said anxiously. “Where the hell are you? You were supposed to be home at nine and it’s one o’ clock in the morning.”
    “Mrs. Stanley?” a female voice said.
    “Yeah?” I asked, surprised.
    “This is Dr. Ellen Ragsby at Central Hospital. Your husband, Alex, was just involved in a serious car wreck. You should probably come right away.”
    I showed up in my pajamas and found Alex in ICU. The doctors told me that Alex had been hit so hard that internal damage was too much and they were just waiting now. I tried to keep calm so I wouldn’t freak Alex out. He smiled at me and touched my tummy.
    “I was on my way home from the department store with some yellow paint. I guess it wouldn’t look too bad,” he whispered.
    “I love you,” I said. “I’ll always love you no matter what.”
    As Alex tried to respond, he spat up blood and the doctors rushed in, one walked me out of the room. I looked down and saw Alex’s blood mixed with the yellow paint on my shoes. I buried my face into my white gloves leaving black spots from my mascara. Alex died that night from internal bleeding. Four months later our daughter Alexis was born. Five years later, as I sit on the cemetery bench next to Alex’s grave, holding my little girl, I feel sad and lonely. But then she looks up and smiles at me and I smile back because I don’t feel lonely anymore.

  6. Courtney Terry

    Caroline’s long skirt flares and whips around her as she twirls about on a makeshift concrete dance floor. The man she’s dancing with is her grandfather’s age, has much darker skin than her, and is barefoot. A row of children sit to the side, watching and giggling as Caroline smiles at them every fourth beat or so. But, there is no music. Just the humming of Caroline’s dance partner.

    When the impromptu performance is over, the dancers bow as forty-eight little hands clap enthusiastically. Caroline gracefully removes her gardening gloves to clap for her partner. Caroline is beaming. She’s also blushing a little.

    After a few minutes, the children settle down and Caroline tries to turn their attention back to the task they had been working on before the dancing interrupted them: they must finish their artwork before all of their paint dries out. Art supplies are scarce in Port-Au-Prince, and she doesn’t want to waste one drop of paint. As she sits down on the dirty floor next to the youngest child, a few of the kids continue to giggle at her. She tries more instructions in French, but they keep laughing. She investigates the source of the hilarity, and among the Creole and laughter she manages to recognize the word “shoe”.

    Caroline looks down at her shoes and gasps as she realizes that she and her dance partner had danced right through the kids’ paint. Not only was there paint on her shoes, but there were also red and yellow footprints all over the floor of the newly built classroom. She jumps up, grabs a rag and tries to wipe paint off the floor, but it’s too late. The warm breeze flowing through the open-air classroom had dried the paint almost instantly. She reaches down to test several areas for wet paint, but only manages to discover a black substance on her gloves as well. Even that won’t come off.

    Completely embarrassed and disappointed that she has ruined the floor, wasted paint, and damaged the gloves that she planned to give one of the nursery workers, she rises slowly from her knees in the middle of the room. Suddenly, Caroline hears a gasp from behind her, and she knows it’s the mission trip leader, Dave. She slowly turns to explain, but before she says one word, he proclaims:

    “It’s beautiful! Caroline, how did you do this? It’s wonderful. We have to take a picture.”

    As she poses with the kids and the floor, Caroline explains. “I was helping one of the workers sand and paint the new chalkboard. He was humming a song, and I was trying to tell him that it sounded pretty. Then he just grabbed my hand and led me out and we started dancing.”

    After a quick flash of the camera, the children hurry across the floor to dance around in Caroline’s red and yellow footprints.

    Courtney S. Terry

  7. Meg Villanueva

    Winter night. I had no idea where I was going. The darkness in the corridor behind the gym disoriented me, and I was completely at a loss. I had thought that I would go to the bathroom really quick and then come back to my son’s basketball game, but I had no idea that only the basketball area was lit. As I cautiously felt my way along the inky hallway, I felt something squish beneath my feet. Immediately my mind conjured up a rat or mouse as blind to me as I was to it. Too late now. I stumbled on, hoping that whatever now stained my shoe would rub off before I had to see it. Not much chance of that, seeing as I could feel the little body sticking to my shoe. At least it hadn’t screamed. I hate it when mice scream.

    As I continued along the corridor, I put my hand out to the side, hoping to encounter a wall or—please God—a light switch. No such luck. I continued to grope in the dark, blind and too dumb to turn back. But when you’re over 50, turning back when you have to go really isn’t an option. I continued groping that is, until I tripped over a body and found myself in the middle of the floor, gloves full of a strange liquid. Oh please, God, not blood!

    Blinding light. The sound of my son’s cry, “Mom! Where are you?” I called back, “Here, Ryan!” and just stayed put, eyes shut, waiting for the crime scene to be discovered. The sound of my son’s gym shoes hitting the floor was both a blessing and a misery to me. Now he would see the body that I had inadvertently fallen over. Would he survive such an ordeal? Would I?

    “Mom! What the heck are you doing in the girl’s locker room?” I hesitantly looked around myself, and then started to laugh hysterically. The mouse on my foot was actually a peach-the yellow meat and red skin still stained my shoe. The “body” that I had tripped over was a mound of gym shorts, towels, and sweaters, evidently left when the girls went to the game after using black paint to make signs. The container of black paint was still there, and my gloves were saturated with it. I looked at my son, he looked at me, and even though he gave me the familiar teen grimace, I couldn’t help but smile. He waited for me while I used the restroom, then I meekly followed him out to watch the game once more.


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