Your Weekend Prompt: Behind the Curtain

Hey writers,

Here’s to hoping your writing week treated you well. Attached below is a new prompt, if the creative urge so strikes you this Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Have an excellent weekend laden with scores of It is decidedly sos (or, Reply hazy, try agains, depending on your preference),

PROMPT: Behind the Curtain
In 500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring:

A fortune-teller rubs her glass orb and grabs your hand. She closes her eyes. She raises her head toward the sky and mumbles. Then, she bursts out laughing.

If your prompt stomach continues to groan, check out The Writer’s Book Of Matches: 1001 Prompts To Ignite Your Fiction, which was penned by a few of my friends at WD (Alice Pope and Scott Francis, et al.). Alice, who I forced into an overblown logline, promises you’ll be basking in a raging inferno of writing genius.

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9 thoughts on “Your Weekend Prompt: Behind the Curtain

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  2. Michiko

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  3. duane sosseur

    Lake private eye

    …….She smiled at me, and I knew I was in trouble right there. That walk, more like authority than sexy, but still…a woman in uniform with her own cuffs…"Sir, why did you get out of the car?" Traffic was light, I had come from dinner with friends and I leaned back against my Buick, liking the way her shirt fit. Yeah I’d seen her before, it was a small town. I didn’t envy the job either, cops see people at their worst but she didn’t look jaded yet. Too young for that. She still had that look like she was doing something important. "Sir? My eyes are up here.”

    ……."Hi." I only gave her a smile at half power. Had I given her the full one, she may have ripped away her shirt and peeled off her panties right there. Wouldn’t be right. Not on the highway. "License and registration." I dug out the wallet out of my jeans, and handed her the license. She probably had a black bra and thong on…….nice ass. She studied it a moment, then looked at me. "Sir you were speeding." Matter of factly. "I was doing 60, like the rest of the cars were." "The speed limit is 55, sir." "Enough with the sir, ok? Everybody calls me lake."

    …….I shifted a little and she must have seen my gun, because suddenly she had her revolver in both hands (slightly shaking) pointed at my head. "Hey! Hey! Slow down there…lets not be trigger happy, honey." "Hands on your head! Lace your fingers together! Now!" I crossed my arms. "Whats the problem? Who peed in your wheaties?" "On the ground, NOW!" I dug out my wallet again, holding out my card. "Lady I’m a private investigator. I have a permit to carry. Don’t be so edgy, ok? You could shoot somebody, stop pointing that thing at me." She lowered her gun a little. Looked dissappointed. Talked into her shoulder mike. "Six fifteen. I have the suspect at gunpoint. He’s armed and dangerous. Request backup." Static crackled. A voice came over, female. "You mean the plate I just ran? That’s Lake. He’s dangerous, that’s for sure. Looks like George Clooney. It’s all right, he’s one of the good guys, Sgt Merriweather. If you shoot him, don’t kill him, save me a piece." Laughter. Static.

    …..She still eyed me dubiously, lowering her gun a little more. "Turn around and spread em!"
    I cracked a smile, another half power one. "Now!" I tried again to talk her out of it. "Listen, I’ve been around a while. You’re kind of new…why do I have to do that?" "You look suspicious, I’m going to have to search you. Don’t make me shoot." She said, looking serious. As I got in the position against the car, her hands were everywhere, and I mean everywhere. She pulled a folded copy of Writers Digest out of my jacket pocket. “So you’re a writer, huh?” “Actually, officer…I’m lake Private Eye.”

    (as a side note, a fortune teller at the carnival did mention trouble along with possible sex in my future…I don’t know if it was the traffic stop she saw but she did give me her number)

  4. Patricia A. Hawkenson

    Intrepid Spirit Vibe

    Closing her eyes,
    she raises her head toward the sky,
    a fortune teller rubbing an orb,
    mumbling a chant protecting her
    from the harm she fears
    in this evil place.

    For sixteen years
    she held the premonition
    of the giving or taking
    of life or death
    knowing it all depended
    on her ability to remain calm.

    Images of a lone child’s shoe
    lying in the road,
    too real to be a simulation,
    a haunting reminder
    of the cost of speed.

    A trail of blood
    led her eyes down the road
    beyond the curve
    where the guardrail should be,
    but she diverts her eyes
    trying not to see
    the writing on the wall.

    He interrupted her.
    His voice as unsure
    and fearful as hers,
    "Your number’s up."

    She bursts out a nervous laugh
    trying to cover her qualms.
    "Oh, my god. That is my number."
    Gathering her courage,
    her footsteps walk forward.
    Innocently, she begged,
    "Please, just tell me quickly.
    I can’t wait any longer."

    "Your responses told us
    what we needed to know.
    Your numbers all add up.
    Take this card to the other counter.
    You passed your driver’s test."

    Her father sighs
    as he shakes his bald head.
    So she rubs it again,
    just one for the road,
    and grabbing the keys,
    she jumps with a scream
    that could wake the dead.

  5. Kim Kennedy

    The fortune-teller rubs her glass orb and grabs my hand. She closes her eyes. She raises her head toward the sky and mumbles. Then, she bursts out laughing. As I look to see what’s so funny, she tries to contain her humor, then gives up and laughs all the harder.

    “I can’t believe you came here,” she says, between her laughter and the gasps for breath it is causing her. Then, she suddenly grows serious and looks me over good. “Why did you come?” She asked that in a voice that said she was expecting a trick or a joke.

    “I-I thought it would be a lark,” I say, growing somewhat defensive at her tone. My mother, the gypsy fortune teller, in a getup that appeared passably accurate, right down to the fake gold coins in her long, black wig. I’d never visited her before, during Hallowe’en carnivals at our church, and I was only doing so this time to satisfy a dare from a friend. She wasn’t really a gypsy; this was a thing she did because she loved children, and she knew they loved her dressing up as a gypsy and “telling their fortunes” at the carnival. Not knowing what I believed exactly, and trying to keep the skepticism out of my voice, I said, “Well, are you going to tell me or do I have to guess?”

    “Oh, that’s right. Your fortune.” She pauses for a moment and then takes a deep breath. “Well, this line here indicates your life-span. It is fairly long, so I predict you will live a long time. These lines that branch off of it are major events that you will encounter in your lifetime. You seem to be standing right at the edge of one of them, you’ve already come through one, and there are still a few to go.”

    “About this big event,” I said, and it came out with more sarcasm than I’d intended, “what am I facing?”

    “You will meet a tall, dark, and handsome stranger. He will love being outdoors, he will dote on you, and will be very happy to see you always.”
    “Yeah, right,” I thought, “what have you been smoking?” That’s not what I said, though. This is my mother, and there are certain lines I know better than to cross. Instead I said, “I’ll believe that when I see it.” We both laughed, and she said, “I’m glad you came.”

    “Me, too,” I said, and meant it. Then she gave permission for me to walk home with a friend, and stop for some trick or treating on the way. “Have fun, and be careful,” she said, with a smile. It wasn’t until my friend and I got to my house that the prophecy came true, though not in the way any of us had expected. It has become a family joke in my household that my tall, dark, and handsome stranger was waiting for me in my backyard—my new horse, Midnight Blaze.

  6. Mark James

    The black curtain thinned the sounds of the carnival to a low murmur. Sitting at the small round table, Sherry wondered how a cheap velvet curtain blocked out noise.

    Madame Belladonna sat across from her, a round crystal ball on the table between them.

    Sherry looked up at the strange drawings on the gypsy’s walls. Must take a long time to draw those for every stop on the road, she thought. One showed the sun, moon and stars in a weird kind of meteor shower, falling to a swirling planet of reds and blues and yellows. Another showed a woman trapped in a circle of shambling ghosts, all of them reaching for her, desperate to tell her something.

    “You’ve come to get answers, child?”

    “I came to find out what’s in your crystal ball,” Sherry said.

    The gypsy, whose dangling earrings were small universes of planets and stars, ran her wrinkled, crooked fingers over the smooth crystal. “My crystal gives many gifts, the future is only one of them. Are you ready to receive what is due to you?”

    Whatever, Sherry thought. “You put on a good show.”

    “So do you,” the woman said. She grabbed Sherry’s hand, her black eyes fixed on her. “A show of innocence.”

    Before Sherry could put on an act of indignation, the gypsy’s performance began in earnest.

    Madame Belladonna dropped Sherry’s hand and rubbed the ball, rubbed, her head tilted back, eyes closed, mumbling words in a language that filled Sherry’s mind, a dark song with too many notes.

    Then, without warning, the gypsy fell back in her chair laughing.

    She’d apparently gone mad. Her laughter cycled up and up, showing no signs of stopping.

    Sherry sprang to her feet, digging through her purse for a five dollar bill. Instead, she pulled out her dead husband’s business card.

    She stared at the words written there in horror. Madame Belladonna was still laughing when Sherry backed out of the suddenly crowded booth.

    People were crammed into the booth, wall to wall, all of them reaching out to her, whispering, murmuring, pleading.

    “My daughter, tell her it was her father.”

    “You see us.”

    “He shot me. It wasn’t a hunting accident.”

    “Help us.”

    “I tried to stop him, but he slit my throat, and ran.”

    “Avenge our deaths.”

    All of them showed the grim signs of their death – crooked bashed in skulls, guts dangling from gunshot wounds, gaping cuts across throats.

    Outside the booth, Sherry wasn’t surprised to see her dead husband leaning on the wooden booth of Shoot Me Once, Kill Me Twice, applauding, his eyes rolled up in his head, reeking of the poison she’d given him.

    “Hello, sweetheart,” he said in a gravelly voice, sounding like he’d clawed his way through dirt and swallowed some on the way up.

    The words on her husband’s card marched through her mind like a Times Square headline in Hell: You can see the dead now bitch. Death’s never gonna part us.

  7. J. Alvey

    Taking No Chances

    The fortune teller stroked her crystal ball with one hand, in a sensuous way, somehow, that maybe had to do with her long, delicate fingers and the exotic paint on her fingernails, maybe instead with her familiarity with the ball, maybe, then again, with my current level of youthful horniness, and with her other hand held on to my own, hand, not ball, as she closed her eyes, revealing pastel purple eyelids and lashes at least a half-inch long, something I had not noticed when first the boys shoved me through the flap of the tent.

    As I gazed into those purple eyelids, trying to remember what color her eyes were for some odd reason, she began muttering and mumbling and lifting her face up to the sky, as if some great provider of secrets was about to reveal one or two to her, then squeezed my hand and retracted, as if in horror, which would scare the hell out of even a non-believer like me, then calmed down, or so it seemed, eased up on the potential breaking of every bone in my hand, and then burst out laughing.

    She opened her eyes in a dramatic fashion, as if lightning had hit her, finally stopped laughing, and said, with the solemnity of a priestess, still holding on to my hand, "You will have great success in this life, but only after spending the night with a 48-year old con artist, pleasuring her in ways you have not yet learned."

    I don’t believe in that stuff, you know, but I’m also not one to take chances.


  8. S.E.Ingraham

    The Moment I First Believed

    A fortune-teller rubs her glass orb and grabs my hand. She closes her eyes. She raises her head toward the sky and mumbles. Then, she bursts out laughing.

    Not for the first time, I wonder what my sisters have done to me, treating me to a reading from Madame Pinonski – the most revered, renowned, fortune-teller in these parts. No better gift, they assure me, then to know your future as you enter your thirtieth year. Twenty-one year old twins, they say ‘thirty’ with something like awe.

    Now, this wrinkly old woman with flashing black eyes, and skin the colour of strong tea has, after only cursorily glancing at my hand, grabbed it and clutched it to her considerable bosom. She closes her eyes, throws back her kerchiefed head and, with silver earrings ringing like tiny bells, she starts to mumble.

    I strain to hear but can only make out,

    “…quite a year…change… baby…babies…death…elbow…wine – no why…windows…

    Did she say any of these things? Or did I imagine them? She spoke so quickly and barely above a murmur.

    I begin to wonder; will she ever relinquish my hand? She drops it, puts both of hers flat on the table and, her head still thrown back, howls with laughter. A rich sound, from the gut, has me laughing with her. Conversely, I also feel close to tears. As abruptly as she starts, she stops, moves her orb to the side,takes my hand again.

    With eyes older than time, she studies me silently, then takes my hand again. Hunched over my palm, she traces the lines she finds there. I am surprised to see this ancient crone’s long, beautifully manicured nails, the polish a rich, royal purple matches her silken head wrap exactly.

    I want to ask her about the mumbling and what was so funny, but as she begins to read my palm, I become engrossed and everything else flies out of my mind like bats at twilight fleeing the cave.

    On the way home the twins prod me about my reading. I tell them little. Mostly I thank them. Genuinely. The reading, I believe has changed my life. Madame Pinonski is an amazing woman. A soothsayer par excellence.

    In my pocket I caress a recording of my session; Madam P tapes all of her readings so her clients don’t have to rely on memory alone to recall her predictions.

    My future holds such excitement and promise it leaves me breathless.

    This is not, however, what has me convinced of Madam P’s veracity. No, it’s not what she told me about what’s to come – it’s the things she knew about my past, some things I’ve never told anyone – this is what has convinced me to trust she really does, as advertised, “see all and know all” and, I am a believer.


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