A Karaoke Love Story

A promotion at work has you head out with coworkers to celebrate. While at the bar, you decide to sing karaoke. As you belt your way through the song (fill in the blank), another member of the crowd starts harmonizing with you. Is it someone you know? Is it not? Either way, this is the moment you fall in love. Write this scene.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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299 thoughts on “A Karaoke Love Story

  1. Early Blogger

    Way over the 500 word mark…rutt row.

    Karaoke Bar

    “So Harper, how long have you been in the city?” Scott asks as he picks up his slippery nipple from the table.

    “Huh?” I’d been distracted. New job, new city…and now my first night out with new friends.

    If I thought too hard about it, waves of panic start to bubble and the deep-seated desire to run soon follows; but isn’t running what I do best? My thoughts seem a little bit too bitter even for me. Nobody forced me to take a promotion that would send me clear across the other side of the country.

    “Less than a month.” I say, hoping the smile on my face seems more real than it feels.

    Scott shakes his head while staring thoughtfully at the space between my eyes causing me to reach up and brush an imaginary wisp of hair away from the object of his intense gaze.

    “That explains it.” He replies with more than a subtle slur, as if he’d spent oodles of time on and has finally figured out the riddle that is me.

    He raises his hand with the shot glass still affixed to his long slender fingers and points directly at the spot he is staring at. My brows begin to burn.

    Suddenly he says, “Who is that over in the corner with Judy?” His hand moves, but his gaze remains fixed on my forehead.

    I turn my own head to look but only catch a glimpse of a shadowy figure more than partially concealed by the low-lit and smoke-filled room. I see her backward- tilted head and smitten face with a half, shit-eatin’ grin plastered across it, and I wonder if she’s found her Mr. Right Now. I’ve only known her a short while, but long enough to know that her career comes first.

    “I didn’t kick, bite, and claw my way through four years of a top business school just to wipe some baby’s ass.” She said the very first day I met her. I had the impression that statement pulled double-duty as a warning to me, or anybody else; that she would stop at nothing to remain that branch’s chief executive officer… at least until she could fasten her foot into the next highest rung. I laughed despite myself. It was the first time since leaving home.

    I watch as Judy coyly slips her business card into the outstretched hand as she shakes it goodbye- no doubt with her personal number scrawled on the back- and I freeze as a glimmer of green bobs up and down. Was that an Emerald encrusted ring planted squarely on the man’s index finger? No I think not. It couldn’t be. I’ve only seen one other like it, and it belonged on the finger of a man more than 2000 miles away.

    Judy, still with the half-cocked grin, saunters back to the table and takes her seat between Scott and me.

    “So! Harper, you ready to get up there?” she bellows.

    “What? NO! I…I can’t. I mean I can’t sing. Really! Sore throat.” I very badly fake a cough that ends with a real gag. The night’s appetizers find their way too close to my sphincter in my rush of panic, and now everybody at the table’s laughing but me.

    “Oh, come on…what you got to lose?” A quick glance at Scott’s glass tells me his hand has found its way back to his mouth and he is now waving for a refill. I look around at my new inebriated pals and think how simple life would be if I drank.

    “Go girl!” the previously quiet Annabelle spits out. I look at her with the fiercest Devil’s eye I can muster, and she just shrugs in response. Annabelle wasn’t quite a wallflower, but she was very comfortable with the status-quo. She was game if the rest of the gang was, for what-ever the gang was up for. She was also the ear to bend when one needed one: She had best-friend written all over her.
    Now it was looking like I had to rethink that.

    Rising slowly I try one last time to bugger out with “I don’t even know what to sing!” when Judy shouts a little too loudly, “You’ve got a friend!”

    The beginning notes have already started as I am led to the stage and turned to face the prompter. Someone from somewhere plants a mic into my pale grasp and before I have time to reconsider…

    “When you’re down and troubled, and you need a helping hand…” springs weakly from my trembling lips.

    “….La…a… um, oh…nothing is go-ing riiiigght…”

    “Close your eyes and thi… think of me…”

    Suddenly, there are two voices: A somewhat sultry baritone off to the right and behind me and then the embrace. A warm giant-like bear hug that would have squeezed the life from me if I hadn’t broke free and spun just in time to see the hand with the green-encrusted ringed finger rise wearily to the face of a man that was supposed to be far away and left behind.

    “And sooooon I will be there- to brighten up even your darkest days.” the voice continues..

    I can hear the words but no longer see the person standing before me. The words now became a faint treble.

    “You just call out my name…”

    *****

    Two hours, seven stitches, and an egg the size of Rhode Island later, I try unsuccessfully to move my head from the white, sterile pillowcase before Judy intervenes with a hand to the chest.

    “Don’t move unless you want to pop a stitch!”

    “What happened?” I say.

    “Seriously? You did a nose-dive backwards off the stage…ok, that wouldn’t be a nose-dive. You pulled a Scarlet O’Hara and smacked the back of your skull on the prompter. Made a horrible noise. By the way, the owner says you owe him two grand for the damn thing.”

    “Ooooh… my word! Now I remember.” My hand finds its way to the bandage stuck to the tender, sticky knot.

    “Where is he?” I groan.

    Judy smiles coquettishly and reaches into her coat pocket saying, “If I’d have known you would have this kind of reaction, I would have told him ‘forget it’; but he insisted I give you this when you came to.”

    Hand-written in bold, perfect print were the words YOU HAVE A FRIEND and a telephone number.

    I hold the paper and stare at the print for what seems like ages. My head throbs and I feel like crying.

    “Somebody special?” asks Judy

    And with that I reply, “I don’t know.”

  2. ac1209

    “What are you going to get?” Julie asked.
    “Grape vodka and grape soda. I call it, ‘Grapes of Wrath’.” Stella said.
    “Ooh, a literary reference.” Julie commented.
    “Not just a pretty face.” Stella said. “So, whaddya gettin’?” she asked.
    “I don’t know, drinking’s not really my thing.” Julie said, while squinting at the menu.
    “Ooh, ‘Lover’s Kiss’. You should try that. Maybe you’ll get a guy on top of your promotion! And maybe you’ll get a guy on top of–” Julie smacked Stella’s arm.
    “You aren’t drunk yet, and it’s too early for your innuendos.” Julie said.
    “It’s never too early for innuendos.” Stella said. The bartender addressed the ladies.
    “Hi there, what can I get you?” he asked.
    “I’ll have grape vodka mixed with grape soda, and she’s having the ‘Lover’s Kiss’.” Stella said before Julie could say anything.
    “I hear if you drink a ‘Lover’s Kiss’, you’ll find your soulmate the same night.” The bartender said with a wink.
    “Just make the drinks, kiddo.” Stella said.

    The girls got their drinks and sat down. A number of people sang karaoke. Once she finished her drink, Stella suggested Julie sing something.
    “What? Sing? No… I don’t have anything prepared. No way.” Julie replied, still drinking.
    “I don’t think these jokers were prepared either. Come on, Jules, you took chorus in high school. Just pretend you’re singin’ in the shower… I’ll do one if you do.” Stella said persuasively.
    “Fine, but I’m finishing my drink first.” Julie said. Stella squealed and went up to stage to do her song. Julie finished her drink while listening to Stella’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’.
    “Good luck.” Stella said, as she passed Julie. Stella sat down, and Julie hopped onstage. The stage lights shined brightly at her, making her warm and unable to see her audience. ‘Hot Blooded’ started playing. Julie sang out, receiving dumbstruck applause almost immediately. The audience stopped clapping so they could hear, and Julie noticed a male voice singing along. A silhouette of a man standing was just visible to her in the crowd. Confidently, the man harmonized. It seemed their voices were made for each other. The song faded out. Julie spotted the man who sang. She went to greet him.
    “Brennan James. We had concert choir together junior year.” he said, shaking her hand.
    “Oh, yeah. We sang the solo together.” Julie said.
    “Right!” he said. “I used to kind of have a crush on you…” he said.
    “I might kind of have a crush on you now.” Julie said. She turned red. “Sorry, I had a drink.” she explained.
    “That’s alright, I know the feeling. I don’t drink much myself, just had the one tonight.” he said, gesturing to his glass. The drink looked just like Julie’s.
    “‘Lover’s Kiss’?” Julie asked.
    “Yeah, why?” he asked.
    “That’s what I got…Did the bartender say you’d find your soulmate tonight?” she asked.
    “Yeah!” he said.
    “…Did he wink at you?” she asked..
    “He did!” he said. They laughed.

  3. JazzCat

    Hi Everyone,

    Below is my first writing prompt submission. I’m new at writing fictional short stories and welcome your feedback and suggestions. Thanks!

    _______________________________

    Woo-hoo! It was a day of elation. I landed my prized promotion after many years of hard work at the company. I was thrilled my diligence finally paid off.

    I adore my co-workers, too. We are always there for each other—through thick and thin—and I wanted to express my appreciation for their unwavering support.

    “Let’s celebrate at Skinny’s! Drinks are on me!” I cheered to my work friends. “After all, it is Friday. Let’s end the week on a high note!”

    We made our way to the lively beachside pub, known for its great burgers, craft beer, and awesome karaoke bar. After a few sips of my frosty drink, I mustered the nerve to sing a song. Don’t ask me why, but I had the urge to select “L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole. I suppose the song’s happy swing matched the exuberance of the day.

    I walked up to the stage, gripped the microphone, drew a deep breath, and threw a big smile to the audience. I thought to myself, “I can’t believe I’m doing this, but what the heck—you only live once!”

    The music began and I picked up the first verse . . .

    L is for the way you look at me
    O is for the only one I see
    V is very, very extraordinary
    E is even more than anyone that you adore can

    I continued with the second verse . . .

    Love is all that I can give to you
    Love is more than just a game for two
    Two in love can make it
    Take my heart and please don’t break it
    Love was made for me and you

    By the third verse, the coolest thing happened—the song became a duet! All of a sudden, a handsome man approached the stage from the darkened room. Under the spotlight, our voices became unified in song, achieving perfect harmony. As he gazed into my eyes, his warmth was palpable. And that’s how I knew I was in the presence of a special, giving, kind person, because I could feel it in my heart, too. It’s funny how our energy can mirror each other.

    And, to think, if I didn’t get up on stage to sing this song, I would never experience this magical moment with this wonderful person!

    What you share grows, so share love and happiness. People will join you and you will be filled with the best life has to offer. Love wins the day every time, at every place, and with every body.

    We continued singing . . .

    Love is all that I can give to you
    Love is more than just a game for two
    Two in love can make it
    Take my heart and please don’t break it
    Love was made for me and you
    Love was made for me and you
    Love was made for me and you

  4. mmarie

    I hope its alright to just jump in! This is my first attempt at a weekly prompt, so please be kind 😉

    I’ve had an idea for a while to write a dystopian ‘super hero’ novel centered around vigilantes who cross the line and the ‘villains’ they persecute, so I’m going to try to use these prompts to help flush out the world and characters.

    ————————————

    Wildly out of Sync

    Karaoke was never Weasel’s thing, but the more shots he threw back, the more sweetly the old machine across from the bar beckoned to him. It seemed inevitable to both him and the bartender that he would push himself up from his stool and stumble towards the stage before the end of the night.

    “Who wants to hear some Metallica?” he shouted huskily as he mounted the short platform. Disinterested patrons ignore him in favor of their drinks, but Weasel was too inebriated to be dissuaded by the lack of interest from his audience.

    Tilting the mic downwards to accommodate his height, he cleared his throat loudly and then stood slack-jawed as the melody to Metric’s Gimme Sympathy began to trickle out into the noisy room.

    “That’s not what I picked,” he muttered, as he scowled down at the karaoke machine’s blurry screen. Snickers began to creep towards the stage as the other patrons noticed his error.

    An angry flush burned across his face, but even drunk, the thief was too proud to admit defeat. Squinting at the lyric prompts, Weasel’s husky voice began to quietly mumble through the song.

    “Get hot.
    Get too close to the flame- “

    Laughter swelled in response.

    Weasel’s temper flared, and a profane outburst was on his lips but a deep voice gave him pause:

    “I’ll remember someday all the chances we took
    We’re so close to something better left unknown…”

    More than one set of eyes shifted to the back of the room, where a large, muscular man sat in shadows. His low voice matched his unassuming posture. He held a half-full bottle of beer loosely in one hand, and a trio of empty bottles sat sweating on the table in front of him. He had been here -watching – for a while.

    “This isn’t a duet,” Weasel began to mutter darkly, but as the stranger ignored him and continued to croon out the chorus, recognition hit and Weasel’s stomach knotted.

    Even without the costume, there was no mistaking Patriarch. Weasel had experienced enough unpleasant encounters with the impassive vigilante to recognize his profile in any lighting.

    He frowned. Had the other man followed him here?

    Their altercation earlier that evening had seemed par the course, but this was a new development. With at least 6 oz of scotch sloshing in his stomach however, Weasel was in no mood to resume their fight tonight. Licking his wounds and dulling his thoughts had been his only goals in coming here.

    Concentrating on walking a straight line, the younger man dismounted the stage and made a hasty beeline for the back door. As he neared the exit though, his retreat was halted by an inescapably tight grip on his upper arm.

    His gaze snapped to Patriarch’s face even as his muscles tensed. The other man held his gaze steadily, but offered no other provocation beyond a disarming smile as he continued his now decidedly uncomfortable serenade:

    “Oh, seriously
    You’re gonna make mistakes, you’re young – “

    Weasel’s face was burning again, but anger was only partly to blame this time. A turbulent rush of emotions washed through him as stared down at the other man. His throat felt tight and his body ached to flee, and yet when Patriarch’s grip loosened and the older man nodded towards the empty seat across from him, Weasel hesitated…

    “Come on, baby, play me something.”

    1. DMelde

      Hi mmarie. Welcome to the prompts. I like the names Weasel and Patriarch. They’re familiar yet have different meanings to different people. I also liked the story and how it unfolded. Good luck with your novel. 🙂

    2. Observer Tim

      Welcome aboard, mmarie. You’ll find we’re a gentle but honest bunch. 😉

      This is a nice story, and leaves a strong hint of something darker to come. You did a great job setting the atmosphere. 🙂

      My red pencil noted some shaky verb tenses in there, which should be fixable with a close edit.
      —–
      As one of the resident superhero junkies, I’ll pass on some unsolicited thoughts and advice.

      1. First, give them identities. Does the person think of themself as the job, or as “Bill with powers”? A good mix of both can lead to interesting character segments.

      2. Second, make the reasons they turn as individual as them. One might get fed up with criminals getting free, while another might have just stopped giving a damn.

      3. Third, don’t tell us when you can show us. Action reveals character.

      4. And most importantly, make them human. A sociopath you can identify with (e.g. Batman, Sherlock Holmes) simply is more entertaining to read.
      —–
      You probably know all that anyway, but I do love climbing on the soapbox. What you’ve got here is a great start, now run with it… 🙂 🙂

  5. Hiba Gardezi

    I got an excuse to post this week because it’s my creative writing exam tomorrow. After this I probably won’t be active till the second week of June and if I do post something then that will be a miracle and you guys will smile.

    Dipped in ashes
    Engraved in gold
    There, sober in a bar,
    My heart was sold.

    Scanty and dry.
    The rain never fell,
    Never fell
    Upon this heart of mine
    And if I told you how you would never tell

    Steps roll over, roll over themselves
    As upon this stage a song through my head sails
    It brings back memories
    Memories and tales

    Tales of a girl,
    Tales of goodbyes searched for the good
    Tales of candlelight and stars upon a dusty car hood
    Tales of tomorrow
    Tales of today
    Tales of the well sought after yesterday

    ‘Sang the stars
    Sang the moon
    Sang the fire … and I
    … And you
    Came the hi,
    Came the bye,
    Came the angels always protecting.
    Came the why?
    Came the high,
    And the never forgetting.’

    Tales on the page,
    Tales on the mind
    Brought to life
    By a person of a kind

    ‘You and I and the addiction
    Mars and Saturn and the intermittent collision
    Becoming my everyday sadist winter eve
    Leave and smile
    Don’t smile and leave
    As I let these ashes run past the sieve’

  6. sabrinakinnison

    “Here’s to you becoming associate manager!” a brilliant redhead raised her glass high in the air as music ebbed about the group. Lily grinned tossing back the shot then looked about the bar. Karaoke great was her thought she’d been told enough times she had no talent glancing at Ava her friend. Leaning close Ava demanded “So what song are you going to sing?” “Sing nope can’t do refuse to do.” Snorting waving her hand about the crowd Ava demanded “You think any of these yahoo’s can sing please. This isn’t the Voice go sing.”

    Ava nudged her “Lily, stop thinking and go do it.” Glaring at her friend she headed toward the DJ knowing she’d need another shot or two before making a fool of herself. Moving to sign up for a song she dumped against a tall gentleman. Looking up her breath caught for a moment as he grinned down at her. “Oh sorry,” she squeaked out even in the dimness of the bar she could see his eyes were green. Lord he looked so much like someone she talked to but it wasn’t possible.

    “Not a problem,” he answered in a bone melting voice suddenly she wanted to hear him sing. “Are you singing?” He shrugged setting down a drink by the DJ “Maybe. What are you singing?”
    Mister green eyed and handsome cocked his head to the side as the DJ added Lily to the list. “Haven’t heard that song done before can’t wait.” At that Lily almost groaned as she headed back to her friends. “So who is mister mouth watering that you were talking too?” Motioning to waitress for two more shots Ava raised an eyebrow at her friend. “I have no clue. But he looks so much like Gregory the guy I text but it can’t be him.” At that moment her name was called to sing.

    Music filled the air as Lily’s voice raised in a haunting melody. Closing her eyes to the crowd for a moment letting the music fill her then letting go of what she felt. Pouring everything into the words singing to the person she’d never meet. She began to move about the stage her long dark hair swirling about her small waist not even looking at the monitor she knew this song by heart.

    At the sound of her voice green eyes turned back to the stage stunned watching her. He didn’t intend to come hell for that matter he never intended to meet her. But here he was curiosity got the best of him. Along with the knowledge that song was for him. He lied about how bad his heart problem was. But he’d never meant to fall for someone online. It started out as a game he run his hand through his spiky blond hair. Whoever said she couldn’t sing want dead wrong as Gregory make his way toward the stage.

    (Normally I can’t write more than 500 word but this prompt I wrote 2391 words. Just learned good lesson here if you feel the subject and have flow don’t stop. Sad note chopped the hell out of story to get down to 500 words. Kinda feel like a lost something in doing that but having friend edit my 2391 to post on my website. With this prompt have way to many story ideas. 😀 )

    1. Nicki EagerReader

      Hey sabrinakinnison,

      first of all, I liked the concept of your story (guy faking heart problems- intriguing premise!), and the writing, too, was good.

      My personal issue with this, though, is punctuation- the sentences crash into each other like a major pile up 😉 .

      But that can easily be rectified. E.g instead of “Karaoke great was her thought she’d been told enough times she had no talent glancing at Ava her friend.” rather “Karaoke- great”, she thought. She’d been told enough times she had no talent. She glanced at (her friend) Ava.”

      Or turn “… he answered in a bone melting voice suddenly she wanted to hear him sing.” into “… he answered in a bone melting voice. Suddenly she wanted to hear him sing.”

      Punctuation is traffic signs for readers- it allows us to speed up and tells us when to slow down AND YOU DECIDE HOW FAST WE TRAVEL. It would be a pity to rush through a narration like yours, because there’s both story and atmosphere to enjoy.

      Keep it coming (and kudos to cutting your story down!).

      1. sabrinakinnison

        Thank you very much this is so helpful. Yes my punctuation kills me. Patience is something I need to learn.

        For example: Sit still write the story (I wonder off a lot), finish, wait a day re-read ,fix mistakes and ask someone to double check me. I’m not a patient person.

        Now I’m off to work on those mistakes so can share this story with you later.

        Thank you 😀
        Sabrina Kinnison

    2. Reaper

      Hey sabrinakinnison, wow I’m having trouble keeping names straight. Should I be saying welcome? Anyway.

      I was going to mention the things Nicki did but I realized it could be the chopping. When I hack bits out of my story the punctuation and grammar gets sent home with self inflicted wounds. Beyond that, and her comments on the wonderful narration, which I also agree with, this just had some sexy language. The bone melting voice was my favorite line. I’m also always fond of someone who goes for describing dark hair as beautiful instead of blonde so you captured my literary heart with this one and I definitely enjoyed the premise and the story.

      1. sabrinakinnison

        Thank you as I said in reply to Nicki punctuation kills me every time. Still have the bigger story in which I’ve ask a friend look over. She’s edited another short story for me (second pair of eyes are helpful).

        Enjoy learning how to paint a pictures with words. So hopefully with time will be able to create lovely stories for people to enjoy. After I get my mistakes in larger story fixed will share with you to get suggestions on how to do better.

        Thank you for the suggestions and comments 😀
        Sabrina Kinnison

    3. Observer Tim

      Hi Sabrina, welcome aboard. I love the moody and sensual atmosphere you’ve created here; great job. 🙂

      Nicki, already spoken clearly on the punctuation thing, so instead I’ll pass on a bit I’ve learned about carving down.

      Find the magic moment of your story. Create a “sliding window 500 words long and fit the moment about 3/4 of the way down. That’s your take; now start adding and adjusting, just enough so the whole story makes sense. Save the bigger one.

      At least, that’s how I do it. I hope you find it useful; your style is exquisite and I’d love to see more.

      1. sabrinakinnison

        Thank you it’s good to be here. Thank you for taking time to read it too.
        Love the suggestion will give it a try. Since I’m new to writing enjoying suggestions and
        comments. In the end it about learning how to tell a story.

    4. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      All good advice from everyone already… or you can be like me and just blow the word count out of the water and then watch everyone yell at you for it. Haha, kidding, guys. I love it when you tease me. 😉

      You gotta go where your story takes you, so always write as little or as much as necessary. 🙂 That said, I maintain that any story can be told at 100 words or 100,000 words. When turning a 2,500-word story into a smaller more condensed version, the key is to keep everything you intended in the long version but make it shorter. The best (but hardest, I’ll admit) way to do this is to be very precise with your words. Then, when you have that down, you use various tools to elicit feelings from your reader. By that, I mean you may have five paragraphs to set a mood, but instead consider using other “triggers” that take only a couple sentences to set a mood or scene. We’re all human (most of us anyway… yeah, I’m looking at you, Reaper. 😉 haha), so always think about what triggers moods for a wide range of people.

      Another easy way to trim things down is to use dialog to convey all the feeling and emotion and character development that doesn’t necessarily need to be expounded upon at any great length. Also, condensing groups of words into single ones helps, too.

      Here are a couple examples of different ways to cut words:

      Your version:
      […]he answered in a bone melting voice suddenly she wanted to hear him sing.

      vs.

      Slimmed:
      […]he answered smoothly, and now she wanted to hear him sing.

      Only knocked off three words, but in the process I conveyed his sexy smooth voice and, by italicizing her desire to hear him sing, I conveyed a very real desire. That means, more words can be saved either earlier or later in the story now that a baseline mood has been established.

      Here’s another example:

      Your version:
      Music filled the air as Lily’s voice raised in a haunting melody. Closing her eyes to the crowd for a moment letting the music fill her then letting go of what she felt. Pouring everything into the words singing to the person she’d never meet. She began to move about the stage her long dark hair swirling about her small waist not even looking at the monitor she knew this song by heart.

      At the sound of her voice green eyes turned back to the stage stunned watching her. He didn’t intend to come hell for that matter he never intended to meet her. But here he was curiosity got the best of him. Along with the knowledge that song was for him. He lied about how bad his heart problem was. But he’d never meant to fall for someone online. It started out as a game he run his hand through his spiky blond hair. Whoever said she couldn’t sing want dead wrong as Gregory make his way toward the stage.

      vs.

      Slimmed:
      Lily closed her eyes as the song danced throughout the room, and a moment later, her voice joined the sway. Her heart hammered with fright, but she felt exhilarated as she sang to a man she knew she would never know. She didn’t mind, though, for at that moment, she finally felt free of her inhibitions.

      When she opened her eyes, his emerald pools watched her over a soft, genuine smile, and she nearly froze. Gooseflesh pinched her skin as he stood and crossed the room. His velvety voice soon joined hers, comingling within the music as two lovers might within satin sheets. Then he joined her on stage, and when she looked deep into his eyes and he into hers, she knew he was the one.

      That’s 127 words where the original was 179, a cool saving of 52 words! Man, I’m like a coupon around here. Haha 😉 In all seriousness, though, I’m not saying you should use what I wrote because you should tell the story how ever you want, just an example of how to play on all those senses to get your message across without too many words. 😀

      Now if only I could take my own advice on cutting stories down. haha 😉

      Anyway, welcome to this place. You’ll learn a lot here! Hope you’ll stick around. 😀

      1. sabrinakinnison

        Jay I was very tempted to blow the word count. What a first impression that would of made (eep) since I’m new here figured I’d better behave.

        Yesterday was first day in weeks where I got carried away writing. Matter of fact spent the whole day writing that made my day. Of course good friend of mine that’s edited another short story is looking over the 2391 word story.

        Love these suggestions they are very helpful and I had a couple of “Oh yeah” moments reading them. Seeing the different in cleaning and polishing up story is wonderful and inspiring.

        Thank you for welcoming me and let me grab my duct tape. Tape me in so I’ll stick around 😀

    5. DMelde

      Hi Sabrina,
      I went to your blog and had a look-see. You have a flair for romance and I think Louisiana is lucky to have you. 🙂
      Happy writing!

      1. sabrinakinnison

        Thank you for visiting my blog. 😀 Love romance (sucker for love here) hoping to finish a book I’ve started. Working on a short story (long story) to post there. However the full Karaoke story will be over on site once my friend edits it for me. Oh my I need a title for it (bangs head on laptop) Hopefully by weekend it will be up on there.

        Thank you DMelde
        Sabrina 😀

  7. Penney

    “Miss, the bar is closed.”

    “” Just one song?”

    He waves her off and continues cleaning the bar. She sings s song ocupela, swaying to the music in her head. She is oblivious to the dimly lit bandstand as she sings on the glowing waxed dance floor.

    A few band members cleaning and packing away instruments feel the blues fill the hall and begin to play. The bartender stops, swings his towel over his shoulder and leans in to listen hypnotized by her voice. Echoing off the walls she embraces the music and keeps singing as a saxophonist joins in from the darkened tables surrounding the floor.

    She had seen him play earlier in the evening and didn’t think he’d noticed her. Now their eyes locked as he played her tune, “So we meet again.”

    1. Critique

      Short and sweet – just enough story for me to envision how she and the saxophist might end up.You encapsulated the scene in so few words – great job.
      A Capella is the correct spelling 🙂

      1. Penney

        I have never been acknowledged as doing a vignette, thank you. I have been terribly guilty of not posting wit endless excuses and procrastinations, but have been journaling so I hope that counts

    2. Nicki EagerReader

      I second Critique and Tim- quantity isn’t quality, and these shorts (vignettes?- another term to look up) pop up far too rarely on the forum. Very nice!

    3. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Hi, Penney!

      People very rarely do short pieces well, and so I usually don’t like them. However, this is certainly an exception! So, well done. 🙂

      As for vignette, I wouldn’t really call this one just yet. It’s certainly on its way to becoming one, because you have almost all the necessary elements here. I think it needs to be more poetic with the prose to give a more expessive feeling to the overall atmosphere, kindling relationship, and the affair of emotions between the two characters. For reference, think about it as poetry prose. (That’s a real thing) Get that down, and I think you’d have one hell of a vignette here.

      Thanks for sharing. I really did enjoy it. 😀

  8. JRSimmang

    Stephen: your choice. Add to this one or wait until the next prompt.

    Also, community, I’m wondering if Klems has ever seen one continuous story under a prompt. How cool would it be if, for the next prompt, we all wrote the same story compounded off the first person’s story? Consider it a chain response!

    At any rate, enough stalling…

    COMPOUND OASIS

    We found out, through trial and error, that the best defense against scorpions were snakes. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a defense against the snakes, and we wound up losing 18 men, if not to the poison then to the gangrene.

    Needless to say, while I was laying in my cot in the Renegade, I couldn’t help but think that I should die here, surrounded by the whistling wind of the desert and the hissing susurrus of the snakes’ fragile underbellies on the crumbling ground.

    “Psst. Ray.” I’d recognize Throckmorton’s whisper anywhere. “Psst, hey.”

    I mustered whatever excitement I could and rolled over to look out the window at just the top of his head. “What?”

    “New shipment. Tonight. That’s the scuttlebutt.”

    I rolled my eyes. “So?”

    “You’re the boss. New shipment. You’re the boss.”

    I sat up quickly, little beads of sweat flying off my brow and landing somewhere in my room. “Shit.” I threw my feet over the side of the cot. “Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.”

    Here at Oasis, new shipments were organized under the Highest Ranking Offender, HRO. That was me this time. Donovan got the last shipment. Hannity will get the one after me.

    I gathered up my pants, pulled on a shirt, and ran out the door.

    Oasis sat on 300 square miles, surrounded by an electrified fence that towered to fifty feet. There was a way-station every click. That way-station housed a bunk bed, a kitchenette, a toilet, and three soldiers. Each soldier was equipped with a government issued RFAR-287, a quick-release truncheon, a pair of zip-tie manacles, and a sidearm, usually 0.009 Glach. Attached to the exterior of every way-station is an RF1500, fully automated with 360 degree rotational capability. That’s x, y, and z. Six years ago, Trigger got through the fence and made it to 5o yards. Then, his head was cleaned clear off his shoulders. They left his body there. Since then, it’s been peace and quiet.

    The helilift drops off our shipment in the detached courtyard, usually around 2 am and usually tone-absent, cloaked, unbeaconed. We’re all required to attend. This way, if anyone shows blatant disregard for Oasis regs, we get to witness first hand the power of the RF1500. Again, the bodies are left where they drop.

    I got to the Welcome Fence just as our arrivals were being processed through the Grand Stand. I was late, and the crowd had already gathered in a line. The soldiers started up the intercom sys.

    We’ve huddled against the pouring rain,
    our sins we must atone.
    We’ve wrought upon ourselves this pain,
    our souls chained to the stone.

    We’re required to sing along, but even the soldiers hate the music. It comes from a time when prisoners were simply that. I, however, since I was the shipment’s contact and HRO, felt it was my duty to introduce them properly.

    Our pride a stain upon our lines,
    we kneel to God and cry.
    But God forgives not us, our crimes,
    have sentenced us to die.

    The last line, I heard her. Soft. A caress. But, it was enough for me to recognize her. Thing is, I thought I killed her.

    To be continued…

    -JR Simmang

    1. Observer Tim

      Pregnant pause for dramatic purposes. I keep thinking Australia in space… 🙂

      Re the idea – back in the ancient files I saw a prompt for this, but I don’t recall much uptake. Sounds like it’d be a hoot to try though. The only difficult bit would be the logistics of keeping concurrent replies straight.

    2. Reaper

      Nice. I’m interested in where this is going and Tim’s comment about Australia is spot on. I saw something on a social media site that might work if you want to do that, make it not a whole prompt but a different thing and possibly have a tag component where each writer tags the next one, or jumps in and claims the spot if you want to do something like that.

      1. JRSimmang

        Great idea, Reap! It’s something we should think about, considering the amount of raw talent we have here. It, and this is just me spitballing, could even be published once polished and edited. Think of it as a written version of “Clerks” or “I’m Not There.”

  9. New2thebiz

    For thirty is what I’m hoping for. Thirty past five and my key’s igniting the drive home.

    Fifteen more and relax at home.

    John struts into the office with a cow bell and a drum stick like a cock with a handful of hens and a mind to feed his own.

    Ding Ding Ding. “It’s Friday and I’m announcing Leeroy is going to be promoted to the new divisional manager. Mike you’re out. We’re going to Migilcuti’s for karaoke and drinks. You’re all welcome, right Leeroy?”

    “Yes sir!”

    Fifteen hits and I’m on my way out to the parking lot. I’m at my car door soon enough to walk through a shadow. I look to my right because the sun is setting and there’s Leeroy.

    “You’re coming right?”

    “I have plans”

    “Well you shouldn’t. I’m your boss now.”

    Rent, insurance, school loans, and my parents all compete for coherence.

    “Alright, I’ll follow you.”

    I’m the last to sing and pick “Cold as Ice”. It was short and reminded me of the glass bottle of water I had in my refrigerator at home. I mumble random words to the rhythm and Mike chims in, “…a fortune in feelings, but someday you’ll pay”

    1. Reaper

      The beginning of this seemed very surreal. The ending seemed to make sense because you used the song as metaphor. If you meant that surrealistic quality this was a good example of it, and I think you did because it led into that ending and I’m not sure I would have gotten it without the way the beginning flowed.

  10. Nicki EagerReader

    1. Sorry for not commenting. I read and I hope I’ll get around to posting individual comments some time later this week- great stuff as usual!
    2. This came to me in a rush, I’m late for work, and I’m really sorry I skipped the editing process, but I’m worried the post might change. Enjoy anyway!

    Siren song

    Voices are wavelength. Longitudinal wavelengths, to be precise, a compression of matter as kinetic energy transverses the whatever medium it travels in. The denser the medium the more efficiently sound is conducted. It is air given a shove, a whole volley of punches that bruises the motionless silence. And once our inner ear has translated the Morse drumming against our tympanic membrane into the code of excitation the voice becomes just that- a interpretation of electric impulses shunted along the nerval pathways.
    No magical matter woven into the fabric of song, no fairy dust sprinkled over it, no divine embellishment at any stage of its processing.

    Acoustics is physics in action.

    Yet this voice cancels out my very thoughts, unplugs my mind, prunes the fronds of past and future that fringe this single fraction of present. Swaying I stand, Killing Me Softly, crooning into the microphone, intoxicated with the searing lime lights, the spirits, and most of all that voice with its oscillation of wavelengths that scrambles my cortex and shuts down all cognitive circuits but the ones most ancient, the ones attuned to the growl in the dark, the cry of pain, the hiss of lust.

    I search the room, the faces in gloom; a blur of presences, a confusion of substance. I sing, sing my song, and the voice answers back, a line thrumming with promise. I latch on to it, stumble from the stage, hooked on the harmonics, hauled in on that song -Killing me Softly- to its owner.

    And the owner is sleek, the owner is beautiful; her skin dark, her eyes dark; dark as the depths of the ocean, dark as the moon above the crackling surface of night. How lush her lips, how salty her scent; her hair cropped short and undulating. Her smile is a crest of waves, her teeth the froth of the surf; they rush towards me, again and again, within an inch of my skin; they tickle my spinal cord, never touch, but stop and recede.

    Oh, it’s a game, the game of the ocean, taunting, tossing, alluring; and we talk and talk about nothing and water, about song texts and seals- Seals are carnivorous, she says, but I do not care- our syllables bead into royals, blue jeans, architecture, and diet coke while in the empty spaces between them desire and want hitch a ride.
    The air is smoky, the air is stale; the evening is dying, the night resurrected. The music clangs, the singers slur; she grabs my hand, she tugs my arm; her hip swings with need, her eyes glow with hunger-

    I watch her breasts heaving, I feel her pulse quicken- out, out, under the sky, where the stars twinkle coldly and the air smells of life, the green of the grass, the moist of the dew, the brine that the breeze carries in from the sea.

    She pulls me into the dark of the bushes, engulfs me in her embrace and her hum -Killing Me Softly- her touch is oblivion, her voice is my solace; my self is forgotten, my being diluted.

    And, humming, still humming, her lips find my neck, the tongue licks my skin, her teeth open veins. She is longing and crushing and pain and redemption, my doom and salvation.

    She sings as she drinks -softly, softly- while dying I know that I have fallen to the lure of the siren.

    1. Reaper

      The only two things I can really say here are that it is hard to make the language of science sexy but you did it well. Also your transition from cold science to hot urban fantasy was seamless. I didn’t see it coming and enjoyed every second of the ride.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        So did I, in fact I felt like I was reading a translation from an ancient Greek.scroll. Great job here. I hope evefyone else has a chance to read it including Roberta.

        1. Nicki EagerReader

          Thank you, Kerry 🙂 . Oh, I’ve always wanted to learn ancient Greek- I’ve actually got a textbook in my shelf. But who is Roberta? I feel like I’ve missed a joke, which would by no means be an extraordinary occurrence 😉 .

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Roberta Flack was the artist that recorded the song. Multi million sales, 1973.

      2. Nicki EagerReader

        Thanks, Reaper! Science is the ultimate turn-on; it just thrills me to think of all that could go wrong with us and NEVERTHELESS works, so that we live, and dream, and create stories… *excited shiver*.

        I’m glad you thought the transition from clear-minded and analytical to jumping, intoxicated associations worked. So thanks again, as usual, for your feedback!

      1. Nicki EagerReader

        Thanks, DMelde- I’m glad the rhythm worked, kind of. I’m not a 100% happy with it yet, so if you found time to point out what DIDN’T work I’d be most grateful. 🙂

      1. Nicki EagerReader

        Thanks a lot for you praise, Critique- I’m positively surprised by the reception. You needn’t hold back on CC (cruel criticism) if you find anything to nag (gimme!)- though if you honestly enjoyed it that pleases me even more, of course. 🙂

    2. Observer Tim

      Endorphins are psychoactive chemicals released in the brain resulting in, or deriving from, positive emotional stimulation and/or reinforcement. Their effect is primrily noted in the amygdala. Release of endorphins may be triggered by physical stimilation, intellectuall stimulation, and, most importantly, by reading this story.

      🙂 🙂 🙂

    3. cosi van tutte

      Hey, Nicki!

      I’ve read your story over a couple of times and I think it’s just perfect. I especially love this line -> “…our syllables bead into royals, blue jeans, architecture, and diet coke while in the empty spaces between them desire and want hitch a ride.”

      My Internal Editor has no complaints/suggestions. He’s just sitting in the corner, munching on a gigantic Reese’s peanut butter cup. 😀

      1. Nicki EagerReader

        Thank you so very much, cosi 🙂 Hope your editor enjoyed its peanut treat (mine was pigging out on Lindt while reading yours 😉 ).

    4. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Oh, Nicki! This is seriously… probably one of your better stories. The frenetic prose, though seemingly wild, are well done indeed. I think you may have rushed a bit too much toward the end, though. Despite the lack of editing, the beginning is strong. Occasionally I find it a bit too vague or lacking clarity in some spots, but that might be because there was no edit, and I can’t fault you for that. The end got on a little too fast, the final paragraphs small and quick, which probably was because you were in a hurry. That said, this is some good business, Nicki. A good rewrite will really bring this story to life.

      Well done. 😀

    5. Early Blogger

      Reading this, you can experience how the MC loses control little by little until inevitably giving in completely even as they know it leads to death; believing that the short term ecstasy is worth it. but more importantly making the reader believe it too. Awesome.

  11. ReathaThomasOakley

    You made me love you

    Myrtis sat on the floor, letters, newspaper clippings, records spread around her. She could hear her mama and her Girl in the other room.

    It’s time, she thought, time to remember, to tell. She wiped dust from a faded photo of a young couple, the uniformed man standing proud, looking right into the camera, the woman, a girl really, shyly looking up at him.

    She put the photo down and pulled a record from the sleeve, Harry James, she thought, it was Harry James, and was transported back to 1942, to the bar she’d gone to with the girls she’d met at the packing plant that was hiring girls with all the men gone to war.

    She was sitting, watching others dance, when a tune she knew, without anybody singing, started. She knew the words and started singing them to herself. She jumped, nearly knocking over her RC Cola when behind her she heard, “Gimme gimme gimme gimme what I cry for, you know you got the brand of kisses that I die for, you know you made me love you.”

    “Oh, I didn’t know you was there,” she said to the boy grinning at her.

    “I seen you come in and was tryin’ to get up nerve to talk to you, then I seen you getting’ all dreamy when Mr. Harry James started playin’ his horn, knew I had to meet you. I’m Jim, you got a name?”

    “Myrtis. I ain’t never heard that song that way. My daddy sings it sometimes to my mama, she says for him to hush up.”

    “She don’t like to hear, you made me love you?”

    “I reckon she don’t, my mama’s kinda different.”

    “Ain’t all mamas?” Jim sat down. “What you lookin’ at my shoes so hard for?”

    “Didn’t mean to be rude. The girls tole me I could tell if a fella’s in the army by his shoes. Most fella’s best shoes is what the government issued, GI shoes they say is a sure sign.”

    “Well, little lady, them girls is correct. I am army and right proud to say so. Can I buy you a drink, better than what you got?” Jim put his arm on the back of her chair.

    “Oh, no, I promised Mama if I went out with town girls I wouldn’t never drink alcohol.”

    “You always do what yore mama says?”

    “I try.”

    The song was over, but someone put a nickel in the jukebox and it started again. “Sing it with me, pretty Mrytis.” He whispered in her ear. “You know the words.”

    Harry James, Myrtis thought as she put the record in the sleeve and took out the one she’d almost worn out after he went away for love of her. Softly she sang the words that Dinah Shore seemed to mean just for her.

    “Why am I sitting alone tonight, when I could be out where the lights are bright? It’s all because of Jim, It’s all because of Jim. Why am i wasting these precious years? Why am I crying these bitter tears? It’s all because of Jim, It’s all because of Jim.”

    Slowly Myrtis stood up. “Girl, come in here. I got things I got to tell you. Girl, yore daddy, his name is Jim.”

    (549 words. As a reminder, Myrtis is the Girl’s mother, her father is in Raiford Prison, various family members have a gift.)

    1. Reaper

      Reatha, this made me melancholy and smile at the same time. I have nothing constructive to say on this one because it just seemed perfect to me. I really like the similar but very different voice for the mother as opposed to the daughter. Expertly written.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m spellbound by your story. WWII songs cheer when I’m sad, when I’m blue and then I play them all, vinyl of course on a manuel DJ turntable, 400 watts with 15″ woofers, 6″ mid range and twitter horns. Thanks for the memories.

          1. ReathaThomasOakley

            Ah, hinted at in comments for Critique’s great trio story. Trying to read everything too quickly!

    2. Observer Tim

      Wow. I can just feel the heat of the Panhandle and the small town, both like and unlike so many others. Fantastic prequel, Reatha. I can already see the future trouble coming in the characters you’ve created. 🙂 🙂

    3. Early Blogger

      This is the kind of writing that makes you lose all sense of time. My experience would be and is completely different, yet the writing has created a resonating effect. I am on the floor with the MC. I feel what she feels. I see what she sees. I really, really like this piece. It feels comforting despite what you fear is coming next.

  12. Critique

    Combo Gals

    “C’mon Summer do it.” Jimmy, her co-worker in the Human Resources department, nudged her playfully leaning close his beery breath wafting in her face. “We know you got pipes.”

    Summer smiled at Jimmy on the bar stool beside her and took another sip of her Bloody Mary. The CEO of Coaldale Construction had taken his staff out to celebrate their successful second quarter. The mood was jubilant and merry – they’d all received a substantial pay raise.

    Listening tonight to the few brave souls fortified by drink – belting out their favourite tunes mostly off key – had stirred the creative juices to get up there and show them all that she had something to offer. Could she do it?

    “Go on Summer.” Jimmy grinned encouragingly. “You know you want to.”

    It was now or never.

    “Okay.” Summer breathed hopping off the bar stool. “Wish me luck.”

    Climbing the stage to the karaoke stand her knees quaking she heard her co-workers cheering. “Go Summer. Yay Summer.”

    There was no second guessing what song she would choose. The Mama and The Papas: California Dreamin’.

    The music started, Summer picked up the mike, gave herself a mental shake and her strong true vocals soared out across the room. She didn’t have to think about the lyrics, they came effortlessly from a sacred vault in her soul. The crowd fell silent.

    Transported back to the National Music Competition in high school where in front of 5000 people her trio won first place, Summer became aware of a rich female alto voice harmonizing with her. A tall willowy woman was making her way to the stage. As she drew closer Summer recognized Ava, the alto from their trio of ten years ago climbing the steps towards her. Tears of joy sparkled in their eyes and when they embraced they heard a female tenor join them completing a rich blend of sound. Summer recognized Tessa the tenor from their trio climbing the steps to the stage. A blend of perfect pitch and harmony swelled and soared around the hushed crowd.

    The three women leaned close and their effervescent hearts spun the song into a new dimension.

    When the song ended they hugged each other ecstatically and the audience stood to their feet.

    “Encore. Encore.” The cry gained momentum.

    Somehow lyrics and music came together from the past and the karaoke trio became a concert like no other.

    The hour was late when an excited Jimmy and a stranger in a suit approached Summer, Ava and Tessa.

    The stranger was an agent scouting for new talent and by the end of the night a meeting was scheduled for the following week to discuss a possible future in the music industry.

    That was two years ago and Combo SAT (Summer – soprano; Ava – alto; Tessa – tenor) are still going strong with their first album hitting number one on the charts.

    1. Reaper

      Very nice Critique. This went in a different direction than I expected and I ended up liking it even more because I love an ending where the artistic side wins out. Full of great lines too, my favorite being the sacred vault in her soul.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        As soon as I started reading your beautiul story, memories returned to a hot day in Dallas when I took a new folk trio to radio stations in Dallas, introducing them to program directors and top 40 djs. The girl mentoned how hot Dallas was. The 45 dj samples were a song called 500 miles.

        1. Critique

          Wow Kerry. If the trio is who I think it was – I loved their songs.
          Thank you for your comment. I’ve been away for a while and its great to be back.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Mary Travers was six feet tall, a lot of blonde and 26 when I met her. Unfortunately, Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey were with her.

      2. Critique

        Thanks Reaper for your comment. I’ve been away for a while and have missed this little part of the writer’s world. I wrote this quickly and felt it leaned to the cheesy side – was afraid the prompt would change 😉 It’s happened several times before – get my story in too late.

    2. Observer Tim

      Brilliant, Critique! Three new stars in the musical heavens! (or, Dude, We’re Getting the Band Back Together) I would listen to them. 🙂

      One thing that hit me as a pleasant secondary item is Coaldale, which is a town not too far from my home.

      All in all a great read!

  13. Dana Cariola

    The jazz club was to be our destination. Martha Newman offered to be our designated driver for the night. And, although she didn’t get the promotion. She would now be first in line for my old position, having drafted a memo to corporate headquarters recommending her as the only qualified person to fill the vacant slot. We had our share of differences in the past regarding policy and procedures. But in essence, she really did have some brilliant moments. It was her obligations to her family, that may have played a big part, as to why she didn’t get the promotion as District Manager. Nevertheless, her newest position as Branch Manager would have to be enough. And, for the most part. It was.

    Martha stopped in front of the club holding up traffic, as we all piled out of her family caravan. The motorist’s behind her laid on their vehicle’s car horns, flashing their high-beams.
    “Come on! Hurry now…I’m driving over to the parking garage. I’ll catch up.” Martha laughed, as she ushered us out of the vehicle.
    The weather was miserable. We hadn’t noticed. Nor even cared. Our festive mood, and infectious laughter even made a few pedestrians, who were struggling to keep their over-sized umbrella’s from flying away – smile along.

    When we’d finally managed to find shelter inside of the club; we were surprised to see only a hand-full of people sitting around the mirrored bar. An ear- piercing sound of feedback from a microphone screeched back from the stage; quickly killed our joy.
    “We’re Here!” I shouted out, laughing.
    Harry erupted into uncontrollable laughter. He was our best sales rep and my best friend.
    “Come on, Girls. Follow me.” he said, in his deep tenor voice and Southern style charm. He had a strength. You trusted him. And, you believed him.That’s what made him so dynamic. And, that’s what made the company wealthy.

    The female bartender made a beeline for us. She knew that if she’d paid special attention to us, she’d be able to go home with a nice tip in her wallet.
    “Welcome, Everyone. My name is Sam. Thank you for coming out to Harvey’s. What can I get you? she rang out.
    “Well, Hello Sam. My name is Harry… this is Susan to my right…And, this little lady to my left is Karen. My new boss. Let’s start out with a round of shooters. I’m thinking? he searched for just the right drink. “Jack Daniels with Cola chasers?…How bout it girls?” he waited for a response. “Why not!” the girls agreed.
    “Good choice!” Sam stated, then moved along behind the bar, searching for her tools of the trade. She poured the liquid from the bottle, high above the shot glasses. Never spilling a drop, as she moved from one glass to the next. Harry applauded Sam’s skill. We raised our glasses, in unison – then quickly consumed the strong liquid.

    An amplified voice filled the empty night club, as a tiny Oriental woman began happily singing the lyric to “Summer Nights.” on stage. Susan grabbed her mouth when she’d heard the poor woman’s voice over the speaker’s. Her mouth, now filled with whiskey. She desperately tried to swallow the liquid before it showered poor Sam with Jack Daniels. Harry put his arm around her, as he secretly snickered in her ear over the woman’s awful singing.

    When the agony finally ended, Harry decided to buy that woman a drink. He walked it over to her, shook her husband’s hand and kissed hers. What a charmer! He looked over at me and Karen, waving his hand to come over to the table where the couple was seated.
    “What is he up too!” I asked
    “Grab your drink! Let’s find out” Susan smiled.

    “Girls, over here! I’d like you to meet, Mr and Mrs. Tamaki. Mr. Tamaki owns a software company, that just so happens to one of our programs we use in the office.” Harry announced.
    “Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you and your wife.” Karen said, as she extended her hand to both of them.
    “Please, Please sit down…join us.” Mr. Tamaki kindly nodded his head. As did Mrs. Tamaki.

    Harry quickly interrupted the conversation. “Karen was just about to sing a song for us!” he smiled.
    “I was?” Karen threw Harry a confused look and widened her eyes.
    “Sure, you were. You told me at the bar that you loved that song Mrs. Tamaki sang. So, here’s your chance, Little Lady!” Harry continued.
    “Oh, Right….I love that song” Karen went along with Harry’s idea of fun.
    “Well, Go on. Get up there and sing us a few notes!” Harry went on.
    “WHAT! …Who me?…No you don’t want to hear me sing?” Karen protested.
    “Oh, come on now! Mrs. Tamaki did it. Now, it’s your turn. Live a little!”
    Karen raised up from her seat and walked over to Harry, then whispered into his ear.
    “Your fired!…You bastard!” she said.
    Harry burst into laughter, as she made her way towards the stage.

    As the words scrolled down the screen, Karen began singing. Surprisingly, she had a lovely voice. Harry joined in to help her along. It wasn’t long after that night the two of the both realized that all of those pranks and antics in the office would lead to marriage.

    The End

    1. Reaper

      Interesting, though the end was a bit rushed I’m sure that is both word count and this story being about the journey and not the destination. Nice writing though your switch from first to third person was a bit jarring. Otherwise a very enjoyable read.

    2. Observer Tim

      Very nice story, though I agree with Reaper that it ends kind of abruptly. I get the sense of a longer story half-written because of the verdammt word count (Nikki feel free to correct my mock-German). 🙂

      The question that burns most in my mind is “What happened to Martha?” I always worry about forgotten people.

  14. Kinterralynn

    “Here’s to my baby!” Ben slid a shot glass of clear liquid over to me with a grin, “I’m so proud of you!”
    I took the shot glass and tentatively sniffed. Patron Silver Tequila. “This is so expensive.” I protested weakly, my mouth beginning to water in anticipation.
    “We’re celebrating your promotion, damn the costs!” Ben lifted his glass, “On the count of three?”
    With a grin I lifted the glass to my lips, “Three!” I downed the tequila, relishing the smooth burn as it made its way down my throat. “You know they have karaoke here, right?” I personally despised the idea of getting up in front of a bunch of drunken strangers and warbling out a song, but Ben liked it and had been pushing me to go to a karaoke bar for months.
    Ben’s eyes lit up, and he spun his head towards the stage, “Are you serious?”
    “Go! I know you want to.” I encouraged him. I already knew he would sing off key and probably mess up the lyrics but I wasn’t going to stop him from having some fun.
    Ben shifted in his chair, “But this is your night.” He put one calloused hand over my own, “What do you want to do?”
    “I want you to let me have another shot of Patron and watch you sing.” Truthfully, I didn’t even like being in a bar. Twenty years ago when I was breaking free from a disappointing marriage, I couldn’t stay away from the bars and the nightclubs. The music, the smoke, the dancing.. it was all a release for the pain I was feeling from failing so horribly at what was supposed to be a lifetime commitment. Now, middle-aged, kid in college and job going well, I didn’t need any of it.
    Ben leaned over and gave me a quick kiss on the lips, “You should come sing with me.”
    I reached up and tugged on his short beard, “Ha ha ha, if you want small animals to go into hiding and children to cry, I will get up there and sing.”
    “You have a good voice.”
    “I have a crappy voice from smoking for 20 years.” I pulled my smart phone out of my back pocket, “Besides, I want to get you on video.”
    Ben looked at me and then rolled his eyes. I knew he was going to keep pressuring me, but he was backing off for the moment. He pushed his shot of Patron over to me and grinned, “Wish me luck.”
    I gave him a thumbs up and watched as he threaded his way through the crowded table, his bright orange shirt like a beacon bobbing in the ocean. He stepped up on the small stage and picked up the microphone. I lifted my phone and fumbled to find the record button, silently cursing the fact that smartphones just made me feel like an idiot. I thumbed through a few screens until I found the camera application and pressed it. The music began and my head shot up in recognition, my jaw dropping in dumbfounded surprise. Before Ben and I were anything but friends, I had once told him about an Elton John song I had just loved as a kid. I liked it so much my mother had bought me a 45 with it on it and I had played it over and over again. It was one of those obscure off-the-cuff conversations; the kind that I never seriously thought about as I plunged ahead into my future because it wasn’t a game changer in any form.
    I started to laugh and I stood up, trying to clap my hands but I was still holding that smart phone. The crowd was calling out now and whistling, some were singing along and my heart was beating fast. I dropped the phone on the table and it tumbled into the shot glass of Patron, sloshing liquid all over the screen. I didn’t care. I started singing along too, I couldn’t help myself. Crocodile Rock would always be my go-to song and I knew right at that moment, Ben was always going to be my go-to partner.

      1. Kinterralynn

        Thank you, Reaper. I was unsure about my conclusion on this one. It seemed so cliche and had I not been at work writing this between tech calls ( my everyday-got-to-pay-the-bills-job is a Computer Helpdesk Technician ) I probably would have come up with something a little less cheesy, ha ha ha :0)

    1. Observer Tim

      Beautiful. I guess the Crocodile Rock will last. 🙂

      I love the story, Kinterralynn. I’ve always been fond of love stores where the MC realizes they’ve been staring it in the face all along…

      1. Kinterralynn

        Its too bad real life is a bit more messy on that fact. A good portion of people tend to realize that kind of thing after they’ve walked away in search of something “better”.

        Oh… and Crocodile Rock really is one of my favorite songs!

  15. Witt.Stanton

    Music pounded throught the smokey air of the bar. Dean’s friends surrounded him, all of them laughing and having a good time. He had been promoted yesterday, and in honor they all went out for drinks.

    “You gonna sing? Come on, man” Nev slung an arm around his shoulders and tried to push him towards the microphone on stage.

    “Nah, not tonight guys.”

    “What, chicken?” They proceeded to make bird calls and flapped their arms. Dean knew he wasn’t getting out of this with any dignity.

    With a groan, Dean drunkenly laughed. “Alright, fine! I’ll do it!”

    He was a great singer, and although he disliked showing off, tonight was a night to party. Bring it.

    At the mircrophone on the small platform of a stage he started humming and getting the rythem. His friends quieted.

    “Your faith was strong but you needed proof, you saw her bathing on the roof…” He grinned, enjoying the soft melody while his friends shouted at him to change songs. They had little to no fine taste. And he loved antagonizing them.

    “Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you…” he continued, closing his eyes. His friends continued to berate him until he finally gave in.

    “Fine guys. How about this?” Dean quickly changed tempo, tapping his foot.

    “Tonight we are yooouuunggg, so lets set the world onnnn fiiiiirrree…” Cheering meet his song and poeple joined in, friends and strangers included.

    “We can grow briigghhtter than the sssuuuuunnnnn” They continued through the lyrics, a crowd gathering. Then they hit the final lines and everyone quited so Dean could finish it off.

    “So if by the time the bar closes, and you feel like falling down…” Some had joined in. A woman, judging by the voice. He scanned his small crowd. There.

    They finished the song with their eyes locked on eachother.

    “I’ll carry you home tonnniggghhhtttt” They let the last word hang in the air, their harmony perfectly in tune. Silence fell until everyone began clapping.

    Dean made his way throught the crowd, smiling to his friends when they clapped him on the shoulder. He had to find her.

    He saw a flash of long brown hair as the bar doors closed and he dashed towards them. He couldn’t let her go.

    She was nearing the street, her hair softly swishing around her head. He called out to her.

    Turning around, she looked at him in suprise then smiled. She gave him a small wave.

    He closed the distance between them. She hesitated only for a second.

    They kissed, gently at first them with passion.

    : : : : : 60 YEARS LATER : : : : :

    Smoothing back her hair he whispered how much he loved her. She lay on her death bed, already pale and fraile.

    He gently bent down from his position on the chair next to her and kissed her.

    “Do you remember when we meet?” She quietly asked, her voice fadding. He fought back tears.

    “Of course.”

    “Do you remember how much you loved me?” She grinned at the thought of his devote love, his endless care and patience.

    “I still love you just as much. True love never fades, does it?”

    “It never does” She agreed smiling faintly, her pale blue eyes sparkling.

    How he would miss her.

    : : : : : :

    All the nurses who happened to pass the room claimed to have heard a man quiety humming words to the tune ‘We are Young’.

    None of them commented when they heard Dean break off and being sobbing.

    : : : : :

    At his funeral the song was played by his friends who were at the bar that night so long ago.

    No one could forget how that song had brought those two together,

    Now they would be together forever.

    1. Reaper

      This is beautiful. A few grammar errors like meet instead of met but nothing big. My only suggestion would be to kill the last line, you don’t need it as it is strongly implied. Great stuff. I don’t recognize your name by the way, am I saying hi or having a bad memory?

    2. Observer Tim

      This is sweet and romantic in the purest sense, Witt. I love seeing love on the scale of “Could I Have This Dance (for the Rest of My Life) or “A Daisy A Day”. It always touches my heart. 🙂

      I spotted some tiny language things (e.g. someone had joined in), but nothing that breaks the flow.

  16. Stephen S

    Here you go JRSimmang enjoy and I’m looking very forward to what you add.

    “Congratz”

    The congratulations were sincere from my co-workers, but as I sat with them, in a bar down the street, from the company that I had just been promoted to Vise president of; I felt incomplete and even lost. I slammed my third shot of rum and watch Janet from accounting as she grabbed the Karaoke mic and climbed up on to the stage. Then she busted out high pitched cover of “girls just want to have fun”. As she finished the song I was finishing my forth shot and the world felt warm and fuzzy. She came off the stage, walked to me and handed me the mic. I looked at it stupidly as she nudged it towards me again. Everyone at my table was clapping and urging me to go up. Last thing I recalled was saying, “No, I can’t.”

    Before I knew what I was doing, I had mounted the stage with the mic in hand. A few people shouted out request before I chose an over played favorite from the 1980s. As I started to sing I realized that I may have been drunk enough to get up on the stage, but I was way too drunk to sing. I made it through the first verse ok and the second alright, but my alcohol muddled brain couldn’t keep up with the lyrics as they leisurely slid a crossed the screen in front of me. I was starting on the third verse when a soft clear voice joined mine. Together we sung the song, both off key but their voice was at least clear compared to my slurring.

    I look in to the crowd and saw a woman sitting at a table with a few others. She was looking at me as she sang. I knew it was her; the one that I had imaged in my adolescent day dreams. It wasn’t her eyes, or the way her bangs sat above her them or even her raven black hair. It wasn’t her smile that she wore as she sung with me. In the end it was just her, she was the one and I knew she would always be.

    As we stared at each other, I swam in her eyes with all the memories of this person fluttering around my head. Memories of our first kiss, our first touch and the moments that would be our history together. All of these future memories became my realty and in them I saw our lives from our first night together to our last breath apart. In that life together there was so much meaning that I felt like I was smothering under they weight of it. As the song ended I caught my breath, stepped off the stage and walked towards my future. There were no more people or bar as I stood in front of her and said, “Hello.”

    1. JRSimmang

      Oh boyohboyohboy. Here goes nothing.

      Part 2

      “So, like, the blonde will, like, totes bring out your eyes, but the black will match your, like, skin tone.” Her name was ‘May-Sea,’ she told me, because, like, she was born in May, and her mom, like, really liked the sea. I had no patience for the valley girl. Mom would’ve like her though. She liked stupid things.

      The only thing I could do was smile at her. I opted for the black dye, Raven Feather Onyx, thanked her for her… stories… and went home.

      He was on my couch when I got there. He was always somewhere.

      “Hey, Jonas.”

      He sat, unmoving, his eyes transfixed on mine.

      “I’m going to do my hair… What do you think of black?” I flipped it and tried that coy smile I often see in the movies. It felt odd, and I felt naked.

      “Tonight, Jonas.”

      His chest rose slowly and evenly.

      “Because you said you finally wanted to meet me.”

      He stood up.

      “Because I’ve waited long enough. We’ve known each other for thirteen years, and we can’t seem to get past this awkward, painful, cat-and-mouse!'”

      He walked out of the living room, into the kitchen, and vanished like he always does. Exasperated, I walked down the hall to my bedroom. The dye would take three hours to set.

      Helena called me at 4, bragging about some sort of dress made from some material I had never heard of, the way her breasts looked in them, and how much ass she was going to score this evening. She told me I had been working too hard as of late, and I needed to get shit-faced.

      Odd, that. Shit-faced. I suppose it had roots in getting so drunk that shit would be the place a face would fall once it has had enough alcohol.

      I told her that my dress was going to be jeans.

      We met up with Candace, Trina, and Hailey.

      “OMG! Rebecca!” Candace threw her arms around me, spilling what I could only assume was a vodka and Raging Bull down my back. She stunk. Then again, so did this bar. I wasn’t here for them anyway.

      He came to me last night. Jonas and his stupid grin came to me, called me, led me through the night. We met in the same place every time. My parents’ grave site.

      “You’re coming to see me tomorrow,” he whispered.

      “I know.”

      “How do you feel about it?”

      I bit my lip unconsciously. It’s funny how sometimes when something seems so contrite in the movies, it actually happens in real life. “I’m nervous.”

      He chuckled. “Me too.”

      I looked up at him in his tight black shirt and jeans. “You’re sitting on my grave.”

      “It’s mine too.”

      I woke up around 2 a.m., the blankets warped around my head and twisted around my waist.

      “Candace, hey,” I struggled. “Trina. Haley.”

      “We’ve got a table in the back. Come on.” Helena grabbed my hand and we followed the other ladies to our seats.

      It was karaoke night, and I was embarrassed to be a part of it. In front of me, my Moscow Mule was dripping condensation onto the table napkin, the girls gossiping about Frank and his secretary, Mr Willard and his kids in prison.

      “Hey,” Helena poked me. “What’s on your mind?”

      I opened my mouth to say something, but all that came out was a melody.

      “Rebecca?” I couldn’t stop singing. My voice was high, perfect, a bright sonata.

      “R e b e c c a?” I watched on, my mouth twisting and curling around each note while Helena’s face began to melt and drip. I heard Candace start to scream, her hair falling in withered wicker onto the floor. Trina’s shoulders and scalp were dissipating into thin wisps of smoke. All around me, the floor was puddling with the memories of the people surround us.

      Except him.

      Jonas was on the stage, mic in hand, and beautiful.

      I was compelled to my feet, sure and brilliant. He caught his voice, and in that moment, the world crystallized around us.

      “Hello,” he said.

      “Hi,” I responded.

      “Our graves, my dear.”

      I held out my hand.

      -JR Simmang

      1. Stephen S

        Hi JR, Sorry to drop out there, I had a sudden change of employment status, so I apologize for the late reply. I’m a sucker for stories about people living thru their fantasies but still functional in society. I liked you writing.

  17. Dennis

    Irish Love Song

    I leaned against the railing, staring out into the vast darkness, biding the time before my life came to an end. How could I know that after leaving my family and homeland for a new life in fabled America, that the ship I barely could afford a ticket for would hit an iceberg and sink? Although wondering if I chose wisely, my worst fear was dying alone, amongst no one I even knew.

    As people around me ran to and fro and below they were loading women and children into lifeboats, I didn’t know what else to do but sing.

    “My young love said to me,
    My mother won’t mind
    And my father won’t slight you
    For your lack of kind
    And she stepped away from me
    And this she did say…”

    And then the most beautiful thing happened: an angelic voice finished the verse.

    “It will not be long, love,
    Till our wedding day.”

    I turned to look at the beautiful young woman standing next to me. She was heavenly to look at with a bit of red hair peeping out from under her coat. Her cheeks slightly freckled and although not a lot of light, I’m sure her eyes were green.

    “My name is Paddy. Thank you for joining me”
    “My pleasure. I’m Ciara.”
    “I’m appreciative and all, but why are you not down there getting on a lifeboat?”
    “When I saw you standing there all alone, a voice inside told me to join you and stay with you.”
    “Thank you but I can’t ask you to give up your life to be with me. You should go.”

    Ciara looked at me with a devilish grin.

    “It’s my choice to make and I’m staying.”

    There’re nothing like a fiery Irish girl to warm my heart.

    Ciara was standing there with a bit of a shiver so I pulled her close and held her tight. We talked of our homeland and families and what we hoped for in America, oblivious to the chaos around us. Neither of us seemed to care what was in store for us. My fears of being alone had left me.

    When it came time to jump ship before it sank, I made the decision that I must get Ciara to a lifeboat. Thankfully I happened to find a life vest and made her put it on. Then into the frigid waters of the Atlantic we plunged. My heart almost stopped. Moving fast I pulled Ciara to the nearest lifeboat which just had enough room for her. I pleaded that they take her and she was lifted aboard.

    “Farewell lovely Ciara. Pay my regards to America.”

    She tried to speak but her lips were shivering too much. But she did throw me her life vest.

    I wasn’t planning on leaving this life so soon, but I couldn’t have asked for a better way, with my heart full of love. And as the cold slowly took its hold over me, I could hear the last verse of the song playing in my head.

    “Last night she came to me, she came softly in,
    So softly she came that her feet made no din.
    And she laid her hand on me and this she did say,
    It will not be long, love, till our wedding day.”

    (The words to this song, She Moved Through the Fair, may have changed after the Titanic, but I took the liberty of assuming they had not.)

    1. Reaper

      Beautifully Irish Dennis. I would like to see a longer version of this where it moves slower. Not because it’s necessary but just for the unhurried feel amidst the chaos if that makes sense. I know, word count and all. My only other piece of advice, to make this even more beautifully tragic would be to not have the song playing in his head at the end, but rather have her singing it as the boat pulls away. This is lovely and haunting and just amazing by they way, so don’t take either of those as meaning it took anything away from your wonderful story.

      1. Dennis

        Thanks Reaper for your comments. I see what you mean about adding more. More juxtaposition of their little island amongst the craziness of the situation. That would be powerful. As for the ending, I had actually thought of that and not sure why I didn’t go with it but would be a better ending.

    2. Observer Tim

      Very lovely, Dennis. I can so easily see this exanding into a larger piece about lives and loves lived and lost on that romantically-fated voyage. The descriptions would flow from languid to lurid, and every drop of dialogue reworked to perfection. Then go kick Cameron in the shins and show him a love story that doesn’t make history buffs cringe.

      You’ve got a beautifully-formed skeleton here with all the power and emotion; run with it. 🙂

    3. regisundertow

      Oh wow, I loved this. At the danger of sounding redundant, this has so much potential to become a longer piece or even the springboard for a number of similar stories.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m climbing aboard your wonderful tale. Don’t think love at first glance doesn’t happen. It’s a tragic story and if you had 1500 words, any magazine would publish it. Of course you know I was hooked on your first sentence.

  18. Observer Tim

    Word limit totally blown, but there’s a lot of history needed.

    Rescue Mission

    The bar is on the edge of Old Dover, Connecticut, in a town so small nobody’s bothered to name it yet. It serves the scavenger community, a bunch of rough-and-tumble idiots who would rather live among the ashes than rebuild. There’s a rumour that somebody out here found a stash of Earthforce technology and we could damn well use that right now. The Garridans are gone but they’re not all gone, and human warlords aren’t in short supply either.

    Alcohol is flowing freely in the semi-lit rathole, as expected. What surprises me is the almost festive atmosphere. I doubt they’d tell a stranger what’s going on regardless; maybe some music can break the ice.

    It’s karaoke, heavy metal. The latest tone-deaf moron finishes his song and steps down. I take the mike and strike a pose. I pick a song; one my sister wrote.

    The morning after
    The tears and laughter
    There’s nothing left of the world that we knew;

    A man in a duster stands and walks toward me, joining in for the second verse.

    The morning after
    It spirals faster,
    I lived a lie but I know now what’s true;

    He’s rugged and kind of handsome, about my age. Just being near him causes my heart to flutter in a way it never has before. I wish Mindy had warned me about this.

    He whispers softly in my ear, “I’m Connor.”

    “Jenna.”

    The morning after
    Start a new chapter,
    The morning after my life without you.

    Connor’s first shot blows the karaoke machine to parts. Guns are coming out as he drills the bouncer at the back door.

    “This way! Rescue mission!”

    My Earthforce training calls this a ‘rapidly-evolving situation.’ Two hostiles are down before my brain registers it. Moments later we’re out the back of the room; Connor is barring the door. I’m about to ask him what’s going on when I hear it.

    It sounds like a coffee maker boiling down the last quarter-cup, but I know it isn’t. It’s a Garridan, one of the aliens that nearly wiped out the human race, severely dehydrated. I heard it a lot on the Garridan lab ship where I grew up.

    “What-the-asteroids is going on here?”

    “Poolbrod is from a Garridan remnant living in the radiated zone of old Dover. The locals captured him three days ago and have been boiling him alive. I was asked by… friends… to rescue him. Seeing you here was my big break.”

    “Thanks. So glad to be your pawn.”

    “We can talk later. Nobody, not even a Garridan, deserves what they’re doing.”

    Not even a Garridan. That burns; I’m half-Garridan, born in a lab and rescued during the war. Life on Earth is bad enough without the survivors killing each other.

    The locals are already trying to break down the door.

    “Okay, I’m with you. How do we do this?”

    “Two more guards and out the back door. Simple.”

    Famous last words. Two guards turn out to be five, but that’s not the issue. Poolbrod has no exoskeleton: he’s just thirty kilos of semi-mobile ooze.

    I scan the room. “We need something to carry him in. Nest two of those garbage bags and get him inside. I’ll take care of the rest of the plan.”

    There’s nobody in the back hall; that means they’d grabbed a brain cell and gone behind the building. I kick at the back door and get rewarded by several gunshots. No stunners here; no surprise.

    I activate the remote and fly my 23 in. When I can clearly hear the whine of the turbines I hit the PA.

    “This is an Earthforce Mark 23 Ultra-Mech. Get away from the bar. You have two fucking seconds to comply.”

    One. BOOM! Two. BOOM! Nobody’s stupid enough to stick around after that.

    The 23 does not have an open cockpit. I have to tell Connor to hold the bag and keep his feet to himself. Once we’re airborne I call in, then address my passenger.

    “You know we’re going back to my base.”

    “I figured. But be nice to Brod, okay.”

    “He’ll get medical attention, then questioning. What about this colony you talked about?”

    “They’re monks. Dover is some kind of holy site to them; they just want to live out their lives in peace, and sing.”

    “Sing? Garridans don’t sing!” I and my sisters are the only Garridans who don’t see music as a form of torture. Or so I’d thought.

    A faint tinny sound emerges from the bag, sounding more like a recording then real speech.

    There’ll be blue birds over the White Cliffs of Dover,
    Tomorrow, just you wait and see…

    1. Reaper

      I think I borrowed the wayback machine. I like this Tim, I thought it felt a bit familiar but wasn’t completely sure until I read your comment. Interesting continuation.

    2. DMelde

      I like the characters you’ve created here, Tim. The ooze alien, the half-alien woman, does she ooze? (maybe just a little?), and then there’s Connor, a man with a gun whose first shot kills the karaoke machine (a man after my own heart). I think they all have possibilities for a broader story. Very well done.

    3. regisundertow

      A lot of original ideas throughout. I kept wondering what a Garridan looks like, how the mech operates, what kind of post-apocalyptic world this is that feels like a blend of Mad Max and the gold rush-era. I really want to read more 🙂

  19. cosi van tutte

    I decided to do one more take on this prompt/a continuation of one of my other prompt stories (Busted! and Oh, The Choices). Just for the fun of it. 🙂 Sorry that it’s a little long.

    Callie McGarr and Zahn struggled to get Jack Jilhouse into the black Volkswagen. His limp body kept sliding out of their arms and slumping to the ground.

    But Asree stood as still as the rock formations all around them.

    Callie scowled at her. “Like, we totally need help over here.”

    Asree didn’t speak or lift a finger to help.

    “Like, OHMIGOSH! I’ve never seen anyone be like so unhelpful.” He slipped out of her arms for the hundredth time. “Like, we’re totally struggling here and she’s just like—”

    “Please stop talking.” said Zahn.

    Callie did not stop and Asree did not help.

    It took a lot of effort and far too much time, but they managed to stuff Jack into the car.

    Asree considered going over there to say good-bye to him, but she wrapped her long arms around her chest and held her ground.

    “Like, thanks for nothing!” Callie got in the back seat with Jack and slammed the door.

    Zahn looked at Asree.

    “Just go.” She managed a smile. “I’ll be fine.”

    Zahn got in the black Volkswagen and flew away.

    ***

    “I wanna run to yoooouuuu.” A buck-toothed weirdo in tattered overalls wobbled and warbled his way through the Whitney Houston song.

    Jack frowned. Something’s wrong. he thought.

    Callie looked at him. “Like, what’s your damage? Like, you’ve graduated high school. You’re totally free from loser teachers and uncool students. Like, so am I, but I’m not the one with doldrums all over my face.”

    “Sorry. I just don’t feel right.”

    “That’s, like, why doctors exist.”

    “That’s not what I meant.” He looked down at his hands. Ten fingers. Something’s wrong. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

    “Again, doctors.”

    “I’m not sick.” My skin color is wrong. His frown deepened. Why did I think that? It’s always been this color. “I feel out of place, but it’s something more than that.”

    He raised his head and caught Callie with a guilty expression. “What?”

    She laughed. It sounded fake and strained. “This is, like, a karaoke bar. We should totally kick that American Idol reject off and take over…”

    Take over. His heart raced at the sound of those two words. He didn’t understand why.

    “Like, OHMIGOSH!”

    He startled. “What?”

    “You are being like the king of total no fun.”

    “King? No. Something else. Prince? Duke?”

    Panic came over her face. “Like, if you don’t sing with me right now, I’ll be soo FURIOUS!”

    “All right. All right.” He followed her onto the stage.

    (to be continued…)

    1. jhowe

      Looking forward to the next part. I’m dying to hear what’s happening with Jack, though your hints are pointing me in directions that are intriguing.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, everyone for your comments! Here is the continuation:

        Panic came over her face. “Like, if you don’t sing with me right now, I’ll be soo FURIOUS!”

        “All right. All right.” He followed her onto the stage.

        “And I will always love yooooooooouuuuuu!” Buck-toothed weirdo’s voice wobbled up into an uncomfortable screech.

        “Like, excuse me, but you’ve been totally hogging the mic all day.” She swipped it away from him.

        He stared at her for a minute and resumed singing without the microphone.

        Jack grabbed the warbler by his ratty undershirt and dragged him off the stage. He returned to Callie. “All right. Let’s get this over with.”

        “That is sooo the wrong attitude for karaoke singing, but whatever.”

        “I want to sing that new Britney Spears song.”

        “Like, no. That song is like the most depressing song ever written. It’s like even more depressing than that shoe song that depresses me like every Christmas.”

        Buck-toothed weirdo drifted in front of the stage. “I wanna dance with somebody.” He did a set of non-rhythmic hand claps. “I wanna feel the heat with somebody.”

        Jack smiled. “Let’s outsing him—”

        “Oh, I can totally do that.”

        “—with that new Britney Spears song.”

        “Ugh! But I, like, totally hate it.”

        “I like it.”

        “Whatever!” She handed him the microphone. “Like, I am sooo not starting that drama. First verse is totally yours.”

        “Ooooo-oooo-ooo.
        Memories of you and me.”

        In his mind, he saw a person’s long-limbed silhouette.

        “I can feel them,
        I can see them.”

        The silhouette didn’t have a face or any recognizable features. It could have been a man or a woman.

        “Slipping.
        Slipping away.”

        But its shape was too long and too thin to be a human.

        “I wanna dance with somebody.”

        Callie joined in,

        “Baby, baby.
        Slipping.
        Slipping awa–yay–ay.”

        But, Jack thought. it’s familiar. I’ve seen it before.

        “Into the dark.
        Into the forgotten.”

        “I wanna feel the heat with somebody.”

        Maybe it was in a dream.

        “See them.
        Baby, baby, see them
        Slipping away.”

        “I wanna–”

        “Slipping.”

        A memory lurked almost in sight.

        ‘Slipping awa–yay–ay.
        Baby, baby.”

        —the heat—”

        Something to do with that silhouette. With her.

        “In time and in days
        Will I forget you too?”

        “—with some—”

        He frowned. But who is ‘her’?

        “Baaaaaby! Baaby!”

        A woman in the back of the room sang along with Jack and Callie, “I don’t wanna forget.”

        A memory. A tired pink sky. Rocks. A beautiful woman ran towards him, screaming his name, “Deama!” He flinched as if that memory had hurt him.

        “Not in time
        Not in days.”

        “I want…” His voice trailed off.

        “—to dance—”

        Callie and the unknown woman kept singing.

        “I want to remember
        Always remember.”

        Jack shivered. I’ve forgotten. Forgotten what? His shivering increased. I’m close to remembering it. If I try hard enough…If I could just…

        “Deama.”

        He dropped the microphone.

        “I want you to remember.”

        He ran off the stage.

        “Jack!” Callie ran after him.

        “Yeee-ha!” Buck-toothed weirdo jumped up on stage and picked up the microphone. “With somebody who loves me.” He pumped his fist. “Yeah!”

        to be continued…

        1. cosi van tutte

          Here’s a further continuation (but not quite the conclusion):

          Jack ran blindly through the crowd, following her voice.

          “I want to remember.”

          “Jack!”

          Who is she? he thought. What have I forgotten? Jack stopped running.

          A figure in a hooded cape stood under a panel of flickering fluorescent lights. The hood shadowed her face. “So, please.”

          The lights above her flickered one more time before blacking out.

          She opened her eyes. Large cat eyes that glowed. “Remember me.”

          Jack yelped and staggered back into Callie.

          “Ow! Like you are such a total klutz. I don’t know why I—”

          “Callie.”

          Something in his voice made her shut up.

          “I’m cold. I can’t stop shivering.”

          “You’re afraid.” said the mystery woman.

          He frowned. “I am not afraid.”

          Callie noticed the other woman. “OHMIGOSH! You!”

          Jack redirected his frown at her. “You know this person?”

          “Like, I wouldn’t say that I know her. She’s not like my shopping buddy or anything.”

          “But you do know her.”

          Callie shrugged. “She was the one who like kidnapped you—”

          “Kidnapped?” A memory. A bumpy ride in a dark car. A bag of money. And her. “What?”

          “Long story. I’ll totally fill you in later, after weird alien lady leaves.”

          “Come with me, my lord.”

          “Lord?” His frown lifted. “I’m not a king. I’m a lord.”

          “You should totally ignore her. She, like, will lead you down the path of ugly weeds and mayhemic junk.”

          “You are Lord Deama.”

          Memories. Sharp, blood-tainted memories. Bloodied swords. Mean-spirited joy. So many deaths. Jack backed away from her, shaking his head. “I’m not. I’m not!”

          “You are.” She stepped forward and touched his face with her four-fingered hand. “Oh, I’ve missed you.”

          A memory. A tired pink sky. Rocks. A beautiful woman ran towards him. Her human face changed with every step. Skin grayed with subtle black stripes. Eyes grew larger. Nose flattened. Fangs. “Deama!” “Asree!”

          He laid his hand on top of her hand. “Asree.”

          Her eye-glow brightened. “My lord.”

          “I’ve missed you too.” The words left his mouth so easily they almost felt like a lie. But he knew that they were the truth.

          “Come back with me.”

          “Where?”

          “Home.”

          to be continued….

          1. cosi van tutte

            And here is the conclusion. Sorry again about the length. 🙂

            “Come back with me.”

            “Where?”

            “Home.”

            Home. “I don’t know where that is anymore.” He gently pulled her hand off his face. “I don’t belong here, but to go back with you…”

            “My lord. What do you wish to do?”

            Jack snapped, “I don’t know!”

            She slipped her hand out of his grip.

            He looked down at his emptied hands. Ten fingers. There should be only eight. “I don’t know.”

            A memory. A golden hammer or a cup.

            “Like, ohmigosh! You’ve just graduated. Your life is like this big open—”

            My life. he thought. One’s real. One’s false. Which one do I really want?

            “UGH! And there you go ignoring me. Like, I was being sooo deep and philosophical.”

            “I don’t want to rush you, my lord, but you must decide before time runs out.”

            He raised his gaze. “What?”

            “If I stay on this planet for over an hour, Earth’s negative energy will break through my cape’s shield. II will forget my entire life. My body will change.”

            “And if I go back?”

            “You will no longer be hindered by fears and regrets. You will be as you were, as you ought to be.”

            “A cold-blooded murderer. I’m sorry, but I can’t do it.”

            “Lord Deama—”

            “Stop calling me that! I’m Jack Jilhouse. I just want to be Jack Jilhouse.”

            She fell silent.

            “I’m sorry, Asree.”

            “What will you have me do, my lord? Shall I leave you here and let you forget me?”

            “You could stay with me.”

            “Where?”

            “Here on Earth.”

            Her eye-glow dimmed. “I don’t want to forget my memories. They are precious to me.”

            “But we’ll be together. Isn’t that what we want?”

            “Is that what you want? To spend the rest of our days in forgetfulness?”

            “I can’t go back, Asree.”

            She bowed her head. “I can’t stay.”

            “I just want to forget.”

            “I’m sorry, my lord.”

            “So am I.”

          2. Nicki EagerReader

            Lord Deama is back! The love-story continues… 🙂 this was very well constructed, beginning with that buck-toothed weirdo butting into the song constantly- the scene felt very realistic (because there’s always someone who doesn’t know when to keep their gob shut, and usually it’s me).

            Hope that Asree might consider a new beginning after all.

          3. cosi van tutte

            Thanks, Nicki!

            The whole last half of the story had me stumped about whether or not Jack and Asree would fly off into the sunset in her black Volkswagen. I wanted them to, but it didn’t feel right for either character. But who knows? It could still happen. 😀

            I’m glad you liked the part with the buck-toothed weirdo interrupting their song. I had so much going on in that part I was worried that it looked disjointed. 🙂

  20. Pete

    Way too long and probably filled with mistakes, but a lot of fun to write…

    We hit Applebee’s around six, showered and clean and ready to party. I was up for anything, having just landed the foreman position after seven years of grueling hard work, I planned to cut loose, really loose, and let the weekend bring on whatever it had.

    Happy hour ended when we got cut-off. That was fine, from there it was on to O’Riggins, a real bar with real drinks and a jukebox. I switched to the hard stuff, to match the occasion. Larry bought me a Makers. Gill’s old lady kept calling so he spent most of the evening out on the street with his phone stuck to his ear. So then there were two.

    The sun fell and the lights dimmed and the music cranked up. We bought beers for two girls, then we switched to shots. Larry ordered a burger. I shot him a look. Lightweight.

    It was karaoke night, and by then I would have signed up for skydiving, so when Larry pat me on the back and said that we were up. I just stood and stumbled up onto the stage.

    Bon Jovi cranked up. Of course. Larry and I belted out Dead or Alive like we were auditioning for American Idol, Tone Deaf Edition.

    It was through a blue fog of smoke and haze, I saw her. Mrs. Peters, looking every bit the same as she did twenty years ago. I spent summers dreaming about her, in that purple and black one piece bikini, tanning on the deck, slathering herself in oil.

    I sang a little louder. Waaaaanted! Smiling. She whistled, swaying with one hand up and the other clutching her Coors light longneck, the glittering lights washing over her like a rainbow. Then she winked at me.

    It was all I could do to finish the song. Between the drink and the memories I was hardly able to function. But I had to pull myself together. This was destiny.

    “Hey Mrs. Peters.

    “Tracy,” she said, her eyes scanning me like she was TSA. She slid the seat out and I slunk down beside her, unable to believe that my childhood best friend’s mom was sitting in the bar and giving me a look that told me everything I needed to know about where this was headed.

    Like a great wingman, Larry kept his distance. From across the bar, I watched as he paid the tab and then left with a nod in my direction. Shaking his head. I turned back to Tracy, this was going to be good.

    I woke up buzzing. The whole bed seemed to vibrate. Blinking, my eyes fell to my phone singing from a clump of clothes. My jeans, my blue v-neck, the plaid boxers. I was more dead than alive when the phone went silent before I could get my limbs to work. My gaze fell upon the bedside table, where, through the dust that looked like sea mites floating in a wedge of morning sun, was a sight that belonged in an episode of Intervention.

    But it wasn’t the condoms, or the scatter of ashes and lipstick stained cigarette butts, or even the collection of beer bottles that made my heart skip and my head swim. It was the set of teeth.

    My head throbbed and my mouth felt like a cheese grader. A crow squawked outside. Somewhere a lawn mower did not want to crank.

    I glanced around the tiny, wood-paneling room, muttering to myself, “No….nope….no, no.” Bon Jovi still clanged around inside my head, muffled and muted like a clinically insane person in a padded room. I tried to swallow but my throat was stuck, too dry to function. Whatever lay behind me could not be good. I heard its methodical rasp. A ragged wheeze left from the lifetime wrath of Merit 120’s and Coors lite.

    Oh God, I thought, my face swiping across the pillow as I turned to face it. Bon Jovi came to a crashing halt as I screamed.

    “Well hey there, handsome.”

    The first thought that entered my mind was Peanut, last year’s ugliest dog contest winner. I remember seeing it on the news one morning as we were slurping down coffee and eating breakfast before the job over in Concord. Peanut’s hair was a stringy mess, his teeth a splintered row of brown, bucked out so that his pink tongue fell out the side. Now, as the crow squawked, I thought back to the beer and the shots and I vowed never to have a drink for the rest of my life.

    She offered to give me a ride home, lighting up a cigarette and hacking out a chuckle as I scooped my clothes and tore out of the trailer. My phone buzzed again. A message from Chris, my childhood buddy– Peanut’s Mom.

    WTF, I saw your facebook post.

    Then, with my jeans sliding down my waist and my shirt stuck halfway down my chest, I ventured to facebook.

    Oh. My. God.

    1. Observer Tim

      … And now our MC will maybe think twice before going out and getting mauled by a cougar … on Facebook. 🙂 🙂

      Engaging tale, Pete. Possibly a bit shallow from my side of the half-century line, but that’s okay. 😉

      My red pencil says “cheese grater”.

    2. jhowe

      I think it was Mickey Gilley who said, “The Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time.” As OT said, this concept is a bit shallow but it was very funny and well done. You had so many great lines but my favorite by far was, ‘Somewhere a lawn mower did not want to crank.” That really inspired me because it emphasized the quality of the neighborhood they were probably in at the time.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Damn, Pete, the hair rose on the back of my neck when I read this. I thought of my buddy in high school and them went sraight to his Mom. OMG! I thought. Please don’t write anything this scary again, I’ll send money if I need to.

    3. DMelde

      Oh, this was almost too cruel. American Idol, Tone Deaf Edition. Ha! Great descriptions throughout. Drunk posting on Facebook at the end. Again, just too, too cruel. Great job!

  21. pauli101

    I love everyone different talents in writing and in their own voice. I wish I could comment individually and encourage the great works of art. Not an excuse, but it depends on which way the wind blows for a good computer connection on my part. Awesome works… great success to all…

  22. pauli101

    A full moon in the night sky as me and my motely crew of comrades scurry to the bar in celebration of my promotion at work.

    Three sheets gone to the wind from three Margaritas I was ready to dance. I decide to saunter my way up stage to crock with karaoke on a dare. Associates encouraging me on. “Okay! Okay! Y-o-u guys win! I’ll s-i-n-g. You’ll see… I crock better than Jeremiah.”

    I belted my chords out to the tune by Bette Midler “The wind beneath my wings”. I choke when I hear that song, and tonight, sing it was no different until a stranger saved me from flopping.

    He rushed to the stage, grubbed the other mic; and with his crooning voice saved the song and me. Every one swooned under his command of the audience including me.

    I became memorized. My eyes fixated on this beautiful gentle man caressing the mic as if it was a woman in his arms. I wanted to be that mic, that woman. My hungry lips urging to kiss his full lips. My hips and thighs ached and it wasn’t from dancing. I was so into him I thought he was my soul mate.

    After the song, I invited him over to meet my mates from work. He introduced himself as “William Huntington”, and sat down as everyone introduced themselves.

    It was dark in the bar as dusk or dawn. Dimly lit. We couldn’t really recognize each other only by our voices and seating. Oh! We were having fun. Singing, drinking, laughing, joking, and chatting. And yes, dancing all night long.

    I was shy too introverted to talk to William, but on the sixth Margarita I was ready to speak with him. As I encouraged the words from my head to my mouth, I choked and upchucked all over his suit. I said a sea of sorry(s) from my embarrassment and promised that I would pay for my error.

    We agreed to meet the next day.

    When I woke up, surprisingly without a hangover, like, not like the movie. I was beside myself excited to meet up with my soul mate Mr. William Huntington.

    My day could not move any slower at work with my work mates cheering me on.

    After work that evening William and I met at a drycleaners. On my walk to the drycleaners, in my mind we were married, had two children and lived in the suburb.

    When I got there my bubble was burst, I was not memorized anymore. William Huntington was rude, authoritative, and he use the “Whatever” word to much for me. And of course I don’t have to remind you what “whatever” means.

    Oh! Well! It is a flitting chase. No! Problem! I know now I’m don’t kissing this toad.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Way to go pauli101, she’s better off without the toad. Women need a man who will change a diaper, mow the lawn, barbeque, and wash the dishes. Oh and of course, be polite to his mother-in-law and pick up his own shoes. Welcome to the forum.

    2. Observer Tim

      i guess being too drunk to function sometimes has its advantages! At least se didn’t wake up in bed with him…

      Great story! There are a bunch of little grammar things which can be caught on an editing pass.

    3. Reaper

      Tim is right about the grammar stuff, this is a really interesting beer goggles story though. From both ends I think since you’d have to be drunk to agree to meet a girl who puked on you. Or, she’d have to be just your type and you very shallow but you kind of gave that impression from his descriptions.

    4. Dennis

      Interesting, I had imagined the MC to be a guy at first, not sure why. In any case nice story. Meeting someone when drunk is never a good thing.

  23. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    The Man in the Yellow Jacket

    Emon sipped his cola-laced rum, and as he set it down, the clear cubes of ice settled against the glass. The alcohol burned his throat, and it was the first time he didn’t care. He used to worry that drinking might damage his vocal cords, but ever since he was in a car accident, he couldn’t say more than a few ragged-sounding sentences before succumbing to an irritated throat and uncomfortable coughs. So, it didn’t much matter what he stuffed down his throat.

    He said, “Have you ever wanted something so bad you’d do anything for it?”

    He wasn’t talking to anyone in particular, and it surprised him when the man next to him replied, “Yep. Too many times to count.”

    Emon looked over, and the stranger didn’t look back. He just looked into his almost-empty tumbler. He had silver hair peppered with black shading that suggested he wasn’t as old as he appeared, though deceit is always a two-way road where the gullible is almost as guilty as the deceiver. He wore an odd yellow corduroy coat with brown leather patches on the elbows. Emon didn’t know people still wore jackets like that, and so he suspected the man was in fact as old as he appeared.

    The man in the yellow coat looked at him and said, “We’ve all made our fair share of mistakes, son. What was yours?”

    It’d been a while since someone gave Emon an ear, so he took it kindly. “Car accident.”

    “That’s all?”

    Emon was originally too ashamed to answer, but when he looked into the man’s soft, comforting eyes, his inhibition eased. Because he’d already spoke too much, his voice started to take on a rough quality. “The accident… it was my fault.”

    The man gulped the last bit of his drink. “Run a red light? Stop sign?”

    “No, nothing like that.” Emon said, and sipped his rum. “Much worse.”

    “Ah, say no more, friend. Not everyone can escape fate when they drink and drive. Someone has to fall some time.”

    “Ain’t that the truth?” Emon growled, but unintentionally. His voice had reduced to a deep rumble, one without tone or softness.

    “So, what is it? You want to take that night back?”

    “I would if I could, but I’d take something more subtle you know?” He paused to take a sip of his drink with the hope it would soothe his now burning throat. It was as if he’d swallowed barbed wire. “I’d give anything to sing again.”

    “Sing?”

    “Yeah.”

    “That’s a pretty odd thing to want.”

    “Nah, not when you love someone.”

    Oh, it’s for a woman.”

    “It Was for a girl, but she’s not so into me anymore.”

    “I don’t understand why, you’re still pretty handsome for a man who lived through a car accident.”

    Emon took in a long deep breath and let it out slowly. “What she loved most was my voice.”

    “Well, that sounds shitty of her. Was it that good?”

    “The best.” He said, as Aria, a young blonde woman, entered the bar. She wore a short white skirt, black corral boots, and a baby-blue spaghetti strap. A soft, white cardigan hung from her shoulders, which danced in the air as she made her way to the other side of the bar.

    “Let me guess…” the man in the yellow coat said.

    “Yup, that’s her.”

    “If you don’t mind me saying so… wow. I don’t blame you for wanting your voice back.”

    “I don’t mind at all. She’s to die for.”

    Suddenly, the man was standing so close that Emon could smell his cologne. It had a hint vanilla, but there was something else he couldn’t quite place. Ever since the accident, everything smelled wrong. Flowers smelled unpleasant, and already unpleasant things smelled even worse. This man smelled like burnt or rotten food. Emon was always passive, so he didn’t say anything to him about it, but he placed his hand over his mouth to muffle the stench.

    The man in the yellow coat said, “What if I could help you out?”

    Emon let out such a sharp laugh that it sounded more like a bark. He looked up at the man who smiled, but there was a quality of seriousness in his face, too. “You’re not kidding.”

    “No, not at all,” he said, and pointed to different people as he spoke. “See that man over there in the corner? He also caused an accident, one that killed a family of four. The mother, father, and daughter all died on impact. The son was found a day later wandering the streets screaming for his father. The boy died that night from his injuries. The judge took it easy on him, though. He even got a promotion at work.”

    “One in a million.”

    “Then there’s that guy over there, had sex with a woman while he was drunk, though she said he raped her. He was given a chance because he was too drunk to realize what he was doing.”

    Emon didn’t reply this time, only listened. His throat was hurting too bad, but also he wasn’t sure what any of this had to do with his situation. Removing his guilt from the accident was hardly the same as judges finding leniency on drunks. He was becoming increasingly curious of how all of it connected to him.

    The man in the yellow coat continued, “The woman at the end of the bar…”

    Emon perked up and looked at Aria. The man quickly said, “No, not her. The other side. She crashed her car right through a family’s living room. Killed a little girl, the husband, and left the wife to suffer permanent injuries in a long-term care facility. The driver herself suffered deep gashes to her face.”

    “I don’t see any…”

    “I know. Everyone gets a second chance, Emon.”

    “I don’t understand.” He said, shaking his head.

    “What I’m trying to say is that I can help you like I helped them.”

    “Wait, what? Who the hell are you?”

    “Just someone who wants to help.”

    It wasn’t until that moment he realized he hadn’t told the man in the yellow coat his name. “How did you…”

    “You want to sing again, right?”

    Emon considered carefully his next words, but there was only one thing he wanted to say. “More than anything.”

    “What I’m trying to say is that I can give that to you.”

    “I dunno, man. I don’t believe in all that mystical bullshit.” Emon said, and coughed from the harsh tickle in the back of his throat, his voice nearly dead.

    “You don’t have to believe, you just have to accept my help and you’ll get your voice back.”

    “I don’t know about that…”

    “What could it hurt? Worst case, nothing happens. Best case, you’re singing again.”

    Emon spoke again, but his voice was little more than pops of air. “Fine.”

    “Are you giving up or accepting my help. Which is it?”

    “The second one.” Emon whispered, as he felt tears burn in his eyes. The pain in his throat had become so intense that he wanted to reach in and tear it out. No, worse. He wanted to get the pistol his father used to commit suicide and use it on himself. Befitting since he was the reason his father killed himself. He forced himself to speak up, “Goddamn it, the second one.”

    “Then it’s done.”

    Suddenly, the pain stopped. The swelling thickness of his neck and fat globulous feeling deep in his throat disappeared. Emon reached up and rubbed his skin. It was as if nothing was wrong. He swallowed a few times just to be certain, and all things awful had ceased. He didn’t know who this man was, but he had to be an Angel sent by God to give him just one more chance.

    Emon opened his mouth to speak, but the man in the yellow coat interrupted him with his finger. “Not yet. Don’t waste your first words on anything but a song.”

    He furrowed his brow, and the man continued, “Go sing. Perhaps you’ll win her back.”

    A cold sweat permeated his body, every inch of his skin a swamp of nervousness. Rolling drips tickled him as they ran the length of his body. He shook his head.

    “Go on.” The man urged.

    Emon didn’t know why, but he felt compelled to give it a shot. He really had nothing to lose. So what of someone laughed at him? He already knew the dark stories of half the people in there, and while he killed an old woman in his accident, it wasn’t nearly as bad as their crimes. Not even a little bit. At least his accident killed someone that was already on her way out. That was his rationalization, anyway. The only one that got him through most days.

    When he reached the stage, he grabbed the microphone and looked at the bartender. Dean cocked his head to the side as if to ask if he was sure he wanted to sing, and Emon nodded. Dean shrugged, and turned the karaoke system on. The man already knew what Emon liked to sing, so he threw on Metallica’s cover of Turn the Page.

    The guitars sung a sullen melody as Emon watched the small crowd of late night degenerates from center stage. All of them drank some kind of drink to forget their past, and they all looked toward him as he began to sing.

    The words flowed freely through his throat, and the voice that came out of his mouth was good. No, it wasn’t just good, it was better than he remembered. Aria turned toward the stage, her eyes wide as he watched her. He felt his smile stretch across his face, and he had a hard time keeping his words from distorting, but he couldn’t help it. It had been so long since she noticed him, and now she seemed enchanted by him.

    Aria stepped toward the stage, and began to sing with him. Her voice was smooth like smooth velvety fudge, but that wasn’t the most amazing part. It was as if they’d never broke it off or that months hadn’t passed since the last time their lips pressed against each other. They stared deep into each other’s eyes, and at that moment, despite their falling out, he’d just as sudden fallen back in love with her in a way that made him immediately forgive her for everything that happened.

    As she approached the stage, probably to join him, she suddenly stopped. Her eyebrows turned up with worry, and she grabbed her throat. She started to back away as a heavy cough barked from her lips.

    Emon said, “What’s wrong?”

    She didn’t say anything, she just continued to cough. Then her cough seemed to echo, but as he looked around, he realized it wasn’t an echo after all, it was everyone in the bar coughing. When his eyes returned to Aria, black soot billowed from her mouth each time she heaved, and her skin began to turn ashen-pink. Boils appeared, and her hoarse shriek grew louder and deafened him.

    “What’s happening!” he said, and ran to her. He dropped the microphone, and a quick chirp of feedback called from the speakers. He grabbed her arms, but it burned his hands. He immediately let go, unsure of what to do. She dropped to the ground, and her hair crackled and smoked as if on fire. She frantically patted at her head as her shrill call for help transformed from fright to pain.

    Emon looked at the other patrons of the bar, and they, too, screamed with agony now. One man’s hand had melted, and then chunks of meat fell away from his skeleton. He fell to the group in a soup made of his own dissolving body. The rapist’s eyes exploded and splattered on his face and all over his female date. It melted through their skin like an acid, and they screamed a song of unequivocal torment. The woman at the other end of the bar who drove her car through the house had lesions open across her face from which blood and black ooze poured. Flames seemed to lick from the wounds and burn the surrounding skin. Everyone but the man in the yellow coat was dying.

    Emon ran to the man. “Make it stop!”

    The man smiled. “It is as it should be.”

    “What are you—just stop it!”

    The screams died one by one, the sole voice remaining was that of a terrified Aria. She cried, “Emon!”

    He turned just in time to watch her hit the ground. He looked back the man in the yellow coat, and said, “What the fuck did you do?”

    “This is all thanks to you, my friend.”

    “This is my fault?”

    “No. It’s their fault. Their sins damned them. They were nothing more than rotting souls waiting for me to collect them. You just, simply put, helped the process along.”

    “But Aria…”

    That I didn’t see coming. I don’t always know when someone has sinned, but as it turns out, she was no better than the rest.”

    “Why… how did I… everyone’s fucking dead!”

    “Oh, Emon. I hope you understand, but as a demon, I cannot collect souls. I need a tool. In this case, I needed your human voice. Normally I have to spend a lot of time convincing someone to accept something in return for a gift, but once in a while someone comes along like you that accepts without asking too many questions. I only have you to thank for that.”

    “I never wanted this… I can’t be your tool. I’ll kill myself!”

    “It’s all right, Emon. Relax. Your job is done.” He said, and threw some bills on the bar. “You paid your price. Enjoy your voice, son.”

    As hot tears poured down Emon’s face, he watched the man in the yellow coat straighten his jacket and then disappear out into the hot afternoon sun. As the door closed, the force of the wind blew a nearby window open. It clattered against the wall, and the sun poured in as if to call his attention to ensure he witnessed what he’d done. Indeed, he paid, but he wasn’t so sure it was worth the price.

    1. Reaper

      I was going to give you hell for the length of this but then it flowed so sweetly that it seemed much shorter. Excellent story and writing Jay. The one thing with this is the demon’s explanation paragraph. It seems a little too bond villain for the rest. I would like it to be more subtle and insidious to fit the character and the story. That’s probably just me and doesn’t ruin what was, to me, an otherwise prize worthy story.

    2. carolemt87

      Great story, Jay but I also agree that the devil/demon whoever shouldn’t tell so much. One line you probably will want to edit….”Her voice was smooth like smooth velvety fudge”…only one smooth needed there. Otherwise, nice work!

      1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

        Agreed, Carole. I found a mess of issues when I edited to post on my website, and that was one of those where I slapped my forehead because I couldn’t believe I let that one get by me. haha Good eye and thanks for reading!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I can understand any slip you might have made, I’m sure you wrote this with the passion of a run-a-way train, and it showed. I don’t have a problem with a word slip. You story echoes thoughts of O’Henry and was truly magnificant to me. Now I need to go lie down some where.

    3. Observer Tim

      i love the way you were able to comine Karaoke and graphic viscera, Jay. Fantastic.

      Since you didn’t seem to be worried by word count, I would have preferred just a bit more graphic/ironic detail in the patron deaths. As you once told me, show us, don’t tell us. But that could be me…

      1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

        Thanks, OT. I actually was concerned about the word count, but in a way I didn’t want to post part I, II, III, etc… nor did I want to go too long that the post would be out of control. I even had reservations about making it as long as I did (1800 words). Even though that’s about that typical length for one of my stories (1200-1800 words)

        As for the deaths… I was torn between keeping the flow/pace of the story consistent OR slowing down. I had a bad feeling about slowing down too much while his girl is over there choking to death, so I kept the deaths at a minimum. However, I do agree that I could have been more ironic with the deaths, I’ll have to think about that when I do the rewrite.

        As always, thanks for you feedback!

    4. DMelde

      Great story. Evil. High body count. What’s not to like? That’s what can happen when you dance with the devil. I liked the phrase “cola-laced rum” quite a bit. For me, it immediately set the mind-frame of Emon as a man drinking to forget, or at the very least not feel, his remorse. The rest of the story just flowed from there on out.

    5. Nicki EagerReader

      Demon- I knew it! Not because you gave anything away but, seriously, it says “Jay “The Doc” Wilson” right at the top so there had to be SOME gore and SOME underworldly tenant, right?

      I don’t think I need to say that this was great (okay, I’ll do it anyway: great, Jay 🙂 ) because if I hadn’t come to expect spell-binding stories from you I would snub you simply for your gross disregard of the word limit… 😉

    6. Critique

      When the people in the bar started disintegrating I pictured the scene in The Last Crusade where the guy melts after drinking from the wrong cup. Your descriptions were graphic quite terrifying.
      I noticed the story started at night and ended in the afternoon sun.

  24. DMelde

    Ogg was a happy caveman who lived in an exciting place and time, at the very dawn of human history. He had a good life and many things to be grateful for. He had his health, very important for his ability to survive against the saber-toothed tigers that frequented the valley. He loved hunting the large woolly mammoths that lived on the windswept plateau. His cave was dry and kept him safe from danger. It was situated on the sun-drenched southern slope of a hill overlooking the Fox River valley. It even had two rooms; a large front room with a big fire pit near the cave’s entrance, and a smaller room in the back where he kept his collection of rocks. However, the one thing that made Ogg the happiest was what the clan’s leader had said to him earlier that morning.

    “Ogg,” the clan leader had said, “aak ottod dee aarhh.”

    Ogg smiled. ‘Make sure the clan’s fire pot stayed lit?’ Of course he would! It was a great honor to be entrusted with such an important job. Ogg walked a little taller that morning after his big promotion within the clan. He decided to celebrate, so he went down into the valley to his favorite watering hole.

    The watering hole was fringed with the short grass that grew in the valley. Clumps of tall grass grew here and there, but nothing tall enough for a tiger to hide in. Flowers, all wild, dotted the green landscape. On a whim, Ogg burst into song.

    “Eee eee, eee-eee. Eee eee, eee-eee.”

    Ogg paused and tried to remember the rest of the song. He was imitating Agkitt, who was good at making up new songs for everyone to sing. As he struggled to recall the rest of the words, Ogg heard a voice singing from the other side of the watering hole.

    “Oooh oooh, oooh-oooh. Oooh oooh, oooh-oooh.”

    It was a woman from the plant-eater clan. They lived on the other side of the valley. He had met her when the two clans had traded goods.

    ‘She has a nice voice.’ Ogg thought. He also thought she looked quite beautiful with her long, sloping forehead, and her hair running down the sides of her face to a point on her chin. Ogg was very shy. He looked down at the ground and kicked his toe in the sand.

    “Eee eee, eee-eee.” Ogg sang.

    “Oooh oooh, oooh-oooh.” came the reply.

    Ogg decided that he liked her. He looked around for something big enough to hit her over the head with, to show his affection. When he couldn’t find anything that big, Ogg stooped and picked a handful of wild flowers instead.

    He walked over and hit her on the head with the flowers. In exchange, the woman held out her hand and there, in her palm, was a speckled river rock. She made a fist around the rock, and then she punched Ogg square in the nose.

    Ogg, looking a little dazed, realized he was in love.

    Ogg and Woman married that day and they had many children, and with their collection of children and rocks, they lived a long, healthy, and happy life together.

    1. Reaper

      Oh man, this is awesome. My face is hurting from smiling. Thought I do have the ee ee ooh ahah song stuck in my head now and I may never forgive you for that. This is just amazing.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Just so you know, I love this story, but especially this whole paragraph -> “He walked over and hit her on the head with the flowers. In exchange, the woman held out her hand and there, in her palm, was a speckled river rock. She made a fist around the rock, and then she punched Ogg square in the nose.”

      😀

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Classic DMede, my ribs hurt this morning but not from sawing a mesquite tree yesterday that fell over my walkway, but from eeee eeee and oooh oooh ing to myself. I set this to the music from ‘Rock Around The Clock’ I did add a third and fourth chant, uug uug uug to you valley girl. AAH AAh AAh AAh to river rocks, rock, rocks.

    3. Observer Tim

      This had me chuckling all through, DMelde. I’ve always had a bit of a weakness for caveman humour. I kept hearing “Zum-bah day-ah” (Phineas & Ferb reference). I also love the subtle touches, but others have pointed them out already. Overall, two clubs up! 🙂 🙂

    4. Nicki EagerReader

      H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S. I read it over breakfast recently and nearly choked on my cornflakes. This is a witty, slap-stick, and left me feeling warm and content with the world. Thanks for that, DMelde!

  25. seliz

    I’m not sure about the word count, since I wrote this between patients at work. But I tried my best to keep it short (ish).

    Hope

    The feel of the sun on my skin makes me smile. It’s impossible for me to be upset when I’m outside. The fact that I got promoted at work doesn’t hurt either.

    I glance around at the scene unfolding around me, surprised again that so many people showed up to a barbeque in my honor. My best friend Jessica probably had a lot to do with that. She’s a ball of energy who makes friends easily. The girl is always chatting and laughing with people, even if it’s her first time meeting them.

    As in on cue, Jessica opens the sliding door to her deck and makes her way towards me. She’s got a drink in her hand and a beaming smile on her face.

    “How did you get this many people to come?” I ask her.

    She shrugs and gives me a crooked toothed smile.

    “Cuz I’m awesome.”

    “It’s like you knew I needed this,” I say, looking down at my feet. Things have been strained at home lately. My husband and I have been fighting a lot, and we’ve even thrown out the D word. Divorce. My heart aches just thinking about it.

    “Uh, cuz I did,” she says, her voice in a sing song. “And you are not allowed to be sad here! This is your party, so get your drink on!”

    She does a strange little shimmy as she says that and I can’t help but laughing. I take her advice and grab a drink.

    Before I’m quite ready, the party dies down as most of the guests begin to go home. The sky is turning a light pink color and crickets hum quiety.

    I guess all good things come to an end.

    “Ahem,” Jessica’s voice cuts across the night air. She’s standing on her deck with a microphone in hand. A small tv sits on her glass patio table. A massive orange extension cord hangs from the back of the tv. “As you all know, we’re here to celebrate my best friend in the whole world, Sarah. And what better way to celebrate, than with karaoke! Come on up here, Sarah. You’re first.”

    I stare at her in astonishment. I didn’t even see her get everything set up. But she knows me well. I love karaoke, and I have a slight buzz going from the few drinks I’ve been nursing. I make my way up to the deck, and begin to scroll through songs until I find one I like.

    As I sing, I can feel the rest of my worries melt away. The door behind me opens, but I don’t even glance back. I am in the zone.

    That is until a male voice joins in. A very familar male voice. Jason–my husband–who hates parties andkaraoke. He sings softly, his voice never leaving my face. My heart swells at the sight of him.

    I don’t know if one song can save a marriage, but as I look at him, my best friend, and the small group of people left at the party, I feel hopeful.

    1. Reaper

      Seliz! Where have you been? This is very nice and sweet. I don’t know if the line his voice never leaving my face was a typo or a stroke of genius but I loved it. The only thing I would change is to eliminate the word divorce because you didn’t need it. You showed me well enough. Wonderful story.

      1. seliz

        How’s it going Reaper? I’ve been around, just feeling unmotivated. I’d check the prompts and be like, “Eh, they got it under control.” But I’m going to try harder to get back into the prompts because the community is so helpful with writing! That being said, the word voice was a typo (that’s what I get for writing at work), but thank you for making me not feel better about it haha.

        1. Reaper

          That is a dangerous question. Let’s leave it at I’m surviving, keeping busy, and hoping a corner I can turn comes up soon in my non writing life. Motivation is the hard bit and I am glad you found at least a little of it. I honestly do think that line is gorgeous. Sometimes the muse gives us a happy accident.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Cozy, little Seliz, welcome, welcome back. If you typed typed this out between work at your job, I think you did a great job. I felt like Reaper, I thought, ‘his voice never leaving my face’ was intentional and I certainly wouldn’t change it.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is beautiful, Seliz. Lovely way to present an uptick in the relationship. I hope things work out for them, though she’s right that his sacrifice is only a start…

      From a storytelling standpoint, it might serve better to slip a tiny bit of foreshadowing of the MC’s mental state into the first line (e.g. a “much-needed smile” or something like that). That would make her troubled state less of a surprise when it’s properly revealed.

  26. Manwe38

    The mitzvah was over, and now it was time for the bar. The room was filled to the brim with stuffy types; you know who I mean. Those rich, overbearing ‘members of the tribe’ who never seemed to find anything more interesting to talk about than who didn’t get invited to the latest dinner party or how rude someone’s in-laws were being. I didn’t care for this crowd at the best of times, and after three hours of bearing with them through shul, needed a breath of fresh air…if one could be found. I ran a hand over the front of my brow. Sometimes, despite being raised Jewish, I really felt out-of-place. I hadn’t been to a service since Zeida passed away, and dad always said religion was for the weak. Meh.

    I shouldered my way through the heavily-perfumed crowd, head whipping back-and-forth like a confused puppy, and searched for an oasis amidst the desert of privilege. The country-club was as blue-blooded as its occupants–fancy trim, gaudy furniture, oversized, brass-laden fixtures that strained the eyes if stared at too long, and then I spotted it.

    A karaoke booth. An honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned karaoke booth. With microphones. And colored lights. And glass walls so people could watch while you made a fool of yourself. A smile twisted the corners of my mouth. Yes, a little foolishness was just what this party needed, and I was happy to oblige.

    I made my way across the crowded floor, past the old man complaining about his prostate, the cranky housewife warning her child not to be a pisherka and quietly slipped through the narrow door. Inside, a series of old cassette tapes lined the walls like a bizarre time-warp to the ’80s. After inspecting the ancient collection, I removed a tape, opened the deck, and popped it inside.

    The music was soft at first, but it slowly grew, along with the timbre of my scratchy voice. Out in the crowd, the discordant warble of me and the artist on the tape was finally beginning to have an effect. Heads turned, eyes popped, and conversation slowly died. After a minute, all that could be heard was the crooning of the speakers.

    “I’ve been sitting here so long, just wasting time, just staring at the phone.
    And I was wondering should I call you, then I thought, ‘maybe you’re not alone.'”

    A little girl began to cry, and was quickly hoisted onto her father’s arm. Our eyes met; his were cold, but I didn’t stop.

    “Oh please give me one more night. One more night. Just one more night, ’cause I can’t wait forever.
    Just give me one more night, give me one more night, one more night, ’cause I can’t wait forever.”

    My lids drifted slowly downwards. Once, a long time ago, I had asked for this very thing–and been denied. Where was she now, the girl who’d said no? Married? Divorced? With a family of her own? After all this time, I still wanted to know, couldn’t help but remember. I took a deep breath, and the air filled my lungs. Tainted air, heavy with memory, and the heady scent of the silent crowd…but I continued on.

    “Like a river to the sea, I will always be with you. And if you sail away, I will follow you-ou.”

    And then I heard it. Another voice. Familiar, yet eerily different. As I sang the chorus for the third time, it sailed through the room like a homing beacon, a mournful heart searching for its lonely companion. I pressed my face against the glass and looked through the crowd, but all I could see was a room full of strangers. I leaned back into the microphone. “I know they’ll never be a time, you’ll ever feel the same, and I know it’s only words.”

    The voice came again, this time from behind me. I whirled around, and there she was. Her hair was shorter than the last time I’d seen her, but the twenty-odd years had been kind. Her left hand–devoid of rings, I was elated to see–reached out and rested gently on my shoulder. “But if you change your mind, you know that I’ll be here, and maybe we both can love.”

    It was time for the final line of the chorus, but I didn’t care. As the Phil Collins wannabe brayed from the tape, I pulled her into my arms. We’d first danced to this song, back in ninth grade, when we’d been young, and innocent, and known nothing. We moved closer, the eyes of the room on my back, and when our lips finally met, it was like no time had passed. All that had happened–our lives before, who we’d been with since–none of it mattered. There was just this moment, with the first girl I’d ever loved, and the promised of romance rekindled anew. Twenty years ago, she’d said no, but now, as the crowd burst into raucous applause, I knew deep down that things would be different.

    One more night, indeed.

    (mention pisherka).

      1. Manwe38

        Thanks Reaper! Yeah, busy at work, but will try to return on a regular basis.

        I was drawing on my childhood experiences with bar mitzvahs; went to a lot of them growing up

    1. regisundertow

      I like it. A little too sweet for my very personal taste (I’m physically incapable of writing happy stories) but I like it, and I can see why others would like it. It isn’t so much the ending, but the description of the bar and the people in it…I don’t think there’s a single person reading it who didn’t think, yes, this is so spot on. Beautifully written.

      1. Manwe38

        I appreciate the feedback and the compliment!

        Question–if you don’t mind my asking, why are you physically incapable of writing happy stories? I’m assuming this is metaphor…except if it isn’t 😉

        1. regisundertow

          Oh, it’s just that the world doesn’t work like that and, whenever I write something happy, it doesn’t feel realistic to me. You could argue that fiction should provide an escape and I’d agree with you, but happy stories are not something I believe I could write well.

          1. Manwe38

            Eh, we all have our strengths. If that isn’t yours, it’s all good. Your writing is still very enjoyable!

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hey, Manwe!

      It’s good to “see” you again. It’s been a while.

      This story made me feel happy. Thanks for posting it. And just so you know, I really like this line -> “…searched for an oasis amidst the desert of privilege.” and the little girl crying as he’s singing. 😆

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hi Manwe, posted a response last night and as soon as I hit post, the web site went down, too many compliments I guess. I do have to say I loved it, wish I had written it and gave me a wondrful back log of experiences of first puppy love I can write about. Real glad to see you back again. Remember one trick I use. If I am in a rut and find no time to write, I write first and then worry about deadlines later. It does seem to work for me but then I actually work smarter when I’m pushed because of time.

        1. Manwe38

          Yeah, I noticed the site went down too. Glad to hear it wasn’t just me; ever since I upgraded to iOS 8 on my iPad 3, it’s been full of bugs.

          In terms of the story, I really appreciate your kind words, and also your advice! Between work and my kids’ birthdays (both boys were May 1st and 2nd, leaving a packed weekend of birthday celebrations), I let my writing for the prompts fall behind. I still was working on my novels, but took a break from here–something I plan not to do again. Thanks for the tip on how to stick with it–it’s advice I definitely plan to use 🙂

      2. Manwe38

        Thank you Cosi!

        I’ve been working on my metaphors; ever since I started the second draft of one of my novels, I’ve noticed that I overuse “motion” a lot (ie “He turned to her/she faced him”, etc) and have been experimenting with eliminating them as much as I can.

        Glad you liked it 🙂

    3. Observer Tim

      Very nice, Manwe. You perfectly captured ‘the moment’ in your story – that point where love (reconciliation) has just arrived, and you find yourself unsure whether or not it’s real but go for it anyway. 🙂 🙂

    4. Nicki EagerReader

      This was great Manwe, and I hope you know so without me telling you. Well written, with beautiful descriptions (“desert of privilege”- delightful!), this story allowed itself length where a little extra was embellishment rather than weight while being brief where it should be. Well done!

  27. Observer Tim

    A SONG IN THE RAIN

    The silvery raindrops fly out of the darkness of the night, shattering against the pavement in the parking lot lights and spraying out bits of broken dreams. Like mine.
    Why did I come to this “celebration?” Mr. Jenkins had just been promoted to Director of marketing and had chosen me to be his secretary. It was supposed to be an honour, but I’d seen the glances shared between the others; I should have known.

    The Karaoke machine at Ellard’s was one of those internet-wired ones where you have way too many choices and part of the “fun” was that we would each go up to sing one; I got the “honour” of going first. I chose one of my all-time favourites, an ancient song that my Gran would listen to as a teen.

    As I started singing, the noises started: hoots, jeers and catcalls. I was trying to sing from my heart but my attempts were being totally laughed out, not only by my co-workers but by many of the other bar patrons as well. I didn’t make it through the first verse.

    So now I’m standing in front of the bar, losing my tears in the rain and slowly letting my best dress get soaked through.

    “Excuse me, miss?”

    I turn and miss him at first. He’s barely five feet tall and not that handsome; everything I’d never looked for in a man. He’s holding out a slightly-worn leather coat.

    “Would you like my coat? It’s a wild night.”

    I consider refusing him, but something in his eyes convinces me he’s not a total creep.

    “Thanks.”

    “I loved your singing tonight, at least until those hooligans tried to ruin it. I’d love to hear you sing the rest.”

    “But what about the orchestra?”

    “The original version was one man and one guitar, and Paul won’t even play the ‘wall of sound’ version now. He thought Phil Spector ruined it.”

    “You want to sing out here?”

    “Would you rather be in there with the Philistines?”

    “Good point.”

    “From the top of verse two; I’ll start, and we can sing it together, okay?”

    And he started. His voice was a bit nasal, by no means great, but I could hear the feeling. I joined after the first few bars.

    The wild and windy night
    That the rain washed away
    Has left a pool of tears
    Crying for the day;
    Why leave me standing here
    Let me know the way.

    By the end of the verse, I’d forgotten about the rain.

    By the end of the song, I was ready to start down a Long and Winding Road of my own.

    1. Manwe38

      This is beautiful, Observer Tim. I’d love to know more about these characters; do you have a personal connection to them (if you don’t mind my asking?)

      1. Observer Tim

        i invented the characters using my usual method of taking a “normal” person and adding some broken bits. The song, on the other hand is IMO one of the greatest songs of love and loneliness ever written.

    2. Reaper

      Wow, Tim, wow! Your first line was so perfect, powerful, raw, and a bit violent. It set such a wonderful scene and your language throughout was amazing. The story is great but the lines in this just make it for me. I’m stunned, not by your talent which we all know to be amazing, but just by the raw passion of this story.

    3. regisundertow

      I love what you do with your characters, Tim. They feel flawed in a very genuine way. I found myself getting annoyed at the secretary for taking the singing so seriously and now I’m curious to see how she’d handle her meeting with the guy. This was smartly written.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Regis. I tried to imply that the secretary had been set up and gone into the hazing blindly. She was shattered, he was compassionate. This is that fragile moment when things can turn in any direction. That’s why I omitted the sappy ending I’s originally prepared…

      1. Kerry Charlton

        The word master is at it again, I remember a reply you wrote to me on this forum over a year ago, ‘This isn’t a contest to see who can write the best story, we’re here to learn from each other.’ Do you remember writing that? I’m still in a learning process and when I read these stories of yours, I study every word you write. So I’m naming you “de godfather”.

    4. Dennis

      Great story Tim. I like the flawed characters who nonetheless have lots of heart And of course that is one of the great Beatles songs. I’m not sure if I have ever heard the original but want to after Paul not liking the final cut.

    5. Nicki EagerReader

      This was beautiful, Tim. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: your stories are framed excerpts of life itself, and for that I love them.

  28. Kerry Charlton

    SUNNY

    The new managing partner of Grimsby, Johnson and Greggs, LLC., Thomas Brian Fitzgerald carried a handle of ‘Fitz’ since high school and most who knew him called him Fitz.. Under penetrating steel gray eyes, and a classic Irish complexion, his mouth reflected sensitivity that didn’t match his veiled persona.

    His secretary, Barbara prearranged a party on the twenty third floor of the Penn Building the day before. How she knew in advance was her business, no one penetrated her savvy, a given trait. Fitz invited the entire law firm including the office staff. A hint of character that impressed the entire law firm.

    Fitz settled at the bar, next to a girl he hadn’t noticed before, a true Irish lass.

    “I thought I knew everyone here, when did you join the company?”

    “Last week Mr. Fitzgerald, by the way, congratulations.”

    “Thank you, there’s no formality tonight, call me Fitz. And you?”

    “Rebecca McCann O’Reilly, but you can call me Sunny.”

    “Sunny it is then, what are you drinking?”

    “Crown Royal, neat.”

    “Bar tender, another hit please.”

    ‘She looks to be in her early thirties’ Fitz mused, ‘but a sadness in her eyes mirrors’ personal pain. I wonder.’

    Across the crowded bar, Barbara was murdering, ’Cry Me A River.’ on the karaoke ’Julie London she’s not,’ Fitz thought as he threw a smile her way. She caught it and moved toward him,

    “Boss, you have great taste in women.”

    “That’s why you’re my secretary.”

    “I not referring to me, I mean Rebecca.”

    The two girls smiled at each other but Sunny thought she might be a third party.

    “Will you both excuse me?” she said and walked to a far corner.

    “What did I say boss?”

    “Nothing that I can think of, don’t worry about it.”

    “I am glad to see you alive again, it’s been over five years Fitz.”

    “Denise never leaves my thoughts , you know that… I’m sorry I don’t mean to be
    abrupt.“

    “I know, I shouldn’t have brought it up. But she doesn’t want you to mourn her, she yearn for you to be happy again.”

    “You make a good mother, Barbara, thanks.”

    “ I know I do, just ask my kids, now go do something about it.”

    She shoved the mike and the karaoke list into Fitz’s hand and went to sit with Sunny. The room cheered and clapped waiting for him to sing.

    “Is this the whole list?” Fitz asked.

    “In unison the bar answered,

    “It is unless you want to sing a cappella.” Laughter rang though the club until Fitz answered,

    “So be it, how do you turn it on?”

    Barbara walked quickly over and whispered, “You really want to do this?”

    “Yes.”

    “Then push this button and pray.” more laughter and a sudden hush stilled the air.
    “A tribute song,” Fitz said. “At least I can’t get fired.”

    More laughter then silence again. In a polished rich baritone voice he sang,

    “When Sunny gets blue, her eyes get gray and cloudy.
    Then the rain begins to fall, pitter patter, pitter patter,
    Love is gone, what can matter?
    No sweet lover man comes to call.

    When Sunny gets blue, she breathes a sigh of sadness,
    Like the wind that stirs the trees.
    Wind that sets the leaves a swaying, like some violin is playing,
    Strange and haunting melodies.”

    He motioned to Sunny, she walked across the room gingerly, looked into his eyes and joined in,
    ……………………………

    “Hurry true love, hurry here to kiss away each lonely tear,
    And hold her near when Sunny gets blue.”

    .

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you manwe38 and a cheery welcome back to you as well. I wasn’t sure how it was going to end myself, I kept writing and found out at the last minute.

    1. Reaper

      This is beautiful Kerry. You’re hitting on all cylinders of the last few weeks with the intensity and emotion and the lines. A sadness in her eyes mirrors personal pain hit me right in the human bits. Very nicely done and another Irish story to be sure.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Reaper, I’m just trying to stay with the pack and keep grinding them out. I’m not doing any rewrite, just checking spelling and grammer and trying to avoid the ‘hads’.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Tim, that’s one of the best compliments I’ve had and may be the best itself. I’ve always loved the song. I think everyone in the music business recorded it but ony one did the justice it deserved, Nat King Cole.

    2. DMelde

      Hi Kerry. Great idea to have a big promotion and a new job symbolize a new beginning in a man’s love life. I especially liked the exchange between the guests and the new boss over the karaoke machine. It showed (rather than told) their easy going relationship. Nicely done.

    3. Dennis

      Nice Job Kerry. It is nice to see a lawyer/high level who is isn’t such a prick. One suggestion I have is you use a lot of commas where I think periods would be more appropriate, but you have a very fluid way of writing.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Dennis, you’re right very few attorneys have this personality. But it does happen even in other areas. About fifteen years ago I remodeled a large house for the president of South Western Bell . Easy going, likeable, brilliant and never lost his cool. He’s retired now in St. Louis and living in an antibellun home out in the country. We still email back and forth.

        Thanks for the comma note. I fight two demons when I write, commas and ‘hads’.

    4. Nicki EagerReader

      Very nice, Kerry. You really are into Irish at the moment (I’ve read most of your posts over the past weeks- sorry I so rarely get round to commenting on them!). There were a few issues with punctuation, where a full stop instead of a comma would have structured the flow of dialogue, but the story itself was very touching. I especially liked your first two paragraphs in which you introduced your MC.

      Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Nicki. I get so busy watching for the ‘hads’, I forget about the commas. I asked Miss Kitty to proof read but she two busy laying around inside and chasing huge lizards in the back yard.

  29. Reaper

    This is part seven? The previous bits are spread over the last prompts. Not entirely sure where this one came from.

    In the Beginning – Musical Interlude

    Caught between the priest and the preacher, Jack wasn’t sure which side was right. His initial surveillance showed nothing technically illegal but the gaggle of girls in the house spoke of a possible cult. At the very least it seemed to be the type of commune the hippies used to set up.

    He discreetly took the information to some of his old cop shop contacts. They agreed no action could be taken, yet. The intel and the work impressed his old boss though. He had a standing offer to return to active duty. A detective’s badge tempted him, the steady income even more so. He needed to think about it, so he ended up and McClarren’s, a cop bar. Wouldn’t you know it happened to be on karaoke night? He hoped his poor ears would forgive him.

    As he considered, he drank. As old friends swung by to shake his hand and urge him to take up the cause again, he drank. When women who enjoyed the rugged, slightly dangerous look about him flirted, he drank. Soon enough he was two and a half sheets to the wind. Not quite blitzed but getting there. He was out of his comfort zone, but with one, about to be two ways back in.

    Normally Jack reserved his gruff voice for the shower, his only audience the bar of Irish Spring and dollar store bottle of shampoo. That night though, the music moved him almost as much as his maudlin mood did. He filled out a slip and waited for the nondescript man running the show to call his name.

    As a tribe cops have depressing taste in music. So the song he chose fit nicely. An old love song with a tragic story. His favorite song because at his core, Jack was still a cop. With no shame he got up and growled out the lyrics in tones fit to do any honky-tonk bound country singer proud.

    Somewhere in the middle of the song a voice joined his, harmonizing, adding a poetic beauty one voice alone could not create. Jack looked for his duet partner, falling in love with the voice alone. A distant smile graced his lips as his eyes continued to search. By the end of the song he knew his own mind.

    As the last chords faded to nothing Jack finally found the source of the voice. Neither the priest, nor the preacher’s prophecy could accept a man like him. The force had a hard enough time with it, but they were coming around quicker than any church. He would take up that badge. That was for tomorrow though. Tonight he wanted to buy the owner of that shaggy black beard a drink and see if partner could describe them when singing was not prepended to it.

    1. jhowe

      Great story Reap. Jack stepped into the job and out of the closet… it must have been a hell of a song. This was very well structured and easy to read. Loved it.

    2. regisundertow

      For such a short story, I’m a little amazed at how it followed the prompt to the letter but still managed to surprise me. Not necessarily with the ending, but with the way it progressed from a cult investigation to drunken serenading. It was done in a very smooth, very organic way.

    3. Manwe38

      Not only do I agree with the above comments, but I’d like to add the subtlety of the character development here is excellent. You got me into Jack’s head without making it obvious you were trying to do so, which is both skillful and helps me connect with him.

      I’ve been away for a little while, but I’m going to try and come back. Just been inspired to write my own story….

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m ready for part eight Reaper. Your MC development was excellent, for describing a cop. ‘Two and a half sheets to the wind’ is classic. ‘With no shame he growled out the lyrics in tones fit to any honky-tonk bound country singer proud’, is prime Reaper.

        1. Reaper

          Thank you Kerry. I’ll keep them up as long as I can and those two lines are ones I’m particularly proud of so I have to thank you for pointing them out. Thank you for all the kind words.

      2. Reaper

        I think I may need to go back and read stuff. I can’t find a reference to his last partner. Am I making Jack and Chester too easy to confuse? If so I need to add some depth to one of them. Thank you Tim.

        1. Observer Tim

          Maybe not, Reaper. My brain is already prone to drawing connectons where there aren’t any, and this place (still in hospital) throws me into a natural disorintation. I think my brain crosswired Jack into the confessional, which was a little stupid since the MC in that one ended up dead.

          1. Reaper

            I forgot about him. Less confused now. Thanks for the clarification. And not stupid at all, keeping track of serials is difficult and it tells me I may need to work on distinguishing this from that. Thanks again.

    4. Dennis

      I like how the voice was very cop like throughout but led you somewhere else by the end. As soon as I saw the prompt I wondered what Reaper was going to do with it. Nicely done.

    5. Nicki EagerReader

      Damn, I must have missed a part- I’ll go back for it later. But it doesn’t matter so much because this “fragment” stands well on its own. You include just enough information to goad the uninitiated read (i.e. me) straight into the tangled web that is Jack’s current situation. There was a lot of character in very paragraphs- definitely a thumbs up, and I’m looking forward to the continuation!

  30. Trevor

    Word Count: 635

    My Life Would Suck Without You

    “God, these drunk idiots are giving me a headache!” Tanya complained in her familiar snarky tone. She was referring to the two blonde haired girls up on stage, attempting to sing Wrecking Ball after downing about twenty shots of tequila. The results were just as ear-grating as you’d expect.

    “Lighten up, Tanya. I think they’re hilarious!” Wally said before taking another sip of his beer. Wally was his usual goofball self, and was beginning to get looser with every sip of booze. We were at The Playlist, a popular karaoke bar just a few blocks away from the bookstore we all worked at. The three of us were avid readers and this shared passion was what brought us together as friends. Recently, I had been promoted to manager, which meant a larger paycheck and fewer sleepless nights worrying about paying the rent. Wally decided that this called for a celebration, which brought us to The Playlist, drinking and enjoying the fantastically awful music. But only one thing was keeping me from having a good time.

    The persistent memory of Brett, my former best friend.

    Brett and I met when I moved into his apartment building. We were neighbors and we hit it off right away. Brett was everything I wanted in a friend: loyal, easygoing, and attractive enough to make me look slightly less hideous by comparison. He was like a brother to me.

    But then, Brett got a girlfriend and our friendship was put on the back burner. It started out slow, but within a few weeks, Brett had drifted out of my life completely. I wanted so desperately to salvage our broken bond, but I never had the guts to face him. Even now, almost a year afterwards, I still missed him.

    “Great job, ladies!” The DJ shouted enthusiastically as the women stumbled offstage. “Who else wants to take the mic?”

    “Go on up there, Pete!” Wally shouted as he slapped me on the back, nearly knocking me off my chair. The alcohol was clearly getting to him. But Tanya grinned and joined in Wally’s encouragement. Before I could object, the crowd began to cheer my name, including the DJ. Reluctantly, I went up onto the stage.

    “What song do you wanna sing, Pete?” The DJ asked. Not wanting to make a fool of myself, I chose a song I knew by heart: My Life Would Suck Without You by Kelly Clarkson. As the familiar beat started to play, I began to sing. My nerves began to vanish with every lyric. But when I was about to start the chorus, another voice burst in.

    “’Cause we belong together now, yeah!” I turned to see a long-haired man walk onstage, singing. It was Brett. The sight of my former friend took my breath away. The look in his eyes seemed to say, “Please forgive me.”

    For the remainder of the song, we sang along, hitting each note with perfection. It was like we had never drifted apart. For the first time in forever, I felt whole again. As the song ended and the club erupted with applause, Brett looked me in the eye, a pleading look in his stare.

    “I’m so sorry, Pete. We were best friends, and I just tossed you aside. Can we just start over?” Brett’s words were drenched in raw emotion. It was a moment I had fantasized about so many times before. I wrapped my arms around my old friend as tears began to sting my eyes.

    “Of course, buddy.” I said as I pulled out of the hug. “Hi. My name’s Justin and I’m your new neighbor.”

    “Hi, Justin. I’m Brett. Welcome to Brandton Apartments.” Brett replied before we left the stage. Today, we’re back to being as close as brothers.

    My life really would suck without Brett.

    1. Reaper

      That’s interesting Trevor. Really well written and a compelling story. I would say take out the had in Brett had drifted out of my life. That was the one spot that pulled me out of the story. Otherwise this is really well written.

    2. jhowe

      This was a perfect story for this prompt. You did a lot better job of following it than I did. This was really well written. I thought you had quite a few characters for the length of the story but you managed them well. Nicely done.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Very good, makes me miss the music business and all the places I got to go and have a good time. Crisply written, take reaper’s thought, take the ‘had’ out. I have to fight against the ;had’ in every story I write. Really enjoyed this.

    3. Observer Tim

      Great one, Trevor. You captured the bar atmosphere well, and I love the way you left the final result unspoken. Romance or friendship? It can be read either way. 🙂

      The only suggesteion I’d have is to give a bit more screen time to Tanya. Otherwise she just drops in and out for no narrative purpose.

    4. Nicki EagerReader

      Good one, Trevor! I second OT in his bid for more screen time for Tanya (because she seems an interesting counterweight to Wally I wouldn’t drop her). Maybe there might be a bit more awkwardness between two friends who find themselves thrown together again on stage?

      Otherwise, my only real point of “critic” is punctuation: ” … ,” said X. The comma is what I’m after. It took me years to notice how to set it correctly…

      Otherwise good narration, sympathetic voice, smooth flow. Well done.

  31. cosi van tutte

    Sorry. I decided to release my inner nerd on this prompt. 😀

    The Flying Gungan cantina on Desobar 6 was a wretched hive for gamblers and bounty hunters, war lords and smugglers, and a vast assortment of people who didn’t fit any label. However, you could tell just by looking at their seedy faces that they were up to no good.

    All in all, it was not an appropriate place for a princess. But Princess Calida Strumm had been desperate for a hiding place. So, when her astrodroid R4-E7 recommended this location, she went with it.

    Princess Calida took a sip of her blue and green swirled drink. It tasted like peppermint and kaofo leaves. It wasn’t terribly bad, but it wasn’t terribly good either.

    Something scaly curled around her ankle. She stomped on it as hard as she could. It squealed and retreated. “What am I going to do? I can’t stay here, but where can I go? I can’t go back home. Not yet.”

    A driffolok alien gave her a leering, saliva dripping smile as he passed her table.

    She slunk down in her seat. “I wish I could go home.” But she knew that Lord Draff’s stormtroopers were there awaiting her return. While none of them could hit the broad side of a docked Super Star Destroyer, one of them was bound to get lucky. “And I would wind up dead. Shot by a crummy stormtrooper.”

    A toydarian in a patched up vest flew up to her table and stole her drink.

    “Hey!” She rose to her feet. “That’s mine!”

    He flew away, cackling wildly.

    She grabbed the table and considered throwing it at his retreating blue backside. Then she remembered what happened last time she gave in to her anger. She sat down. “I really shouldn’t have thrown Lord Draff out the window. But the man just wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

    “Hey, pretty lady.” A dark skinned man with a mustache and a flashy periwinkle cape placed his hand on her table. He smiled an annoyingly smug smile. “I saw you talking to yourself. If you’re in need of a sympathetic ear, I have two.”

    “I need none. Go away.”

    His smile didn’t even waver. “If you change your mind, I’ll be in the gambling nook over there.” He pointed to the far right corner of the room.

    “Thanks, but I won’t change my mind.”

    He winked at her and swaggered off.

    If anyone else comes over here, I swear I will not be responsible for my actions.

    “The river’s wide.” A man sang, his voice overpowering the crowd noise. “And the sea is too. I would cross them both just to be with you.”

    “Oh!” Princess Calida smiled. “I love this song.” Even though she knew it wasn’t a bright move for someone who wanted to keep a low profile, she stood and sang along in perfect harmony, “Through screaming gales and storming seas I would sail just to be with you.”

    The man walked through the crowd as he sang. “So, come—”

    “So, come—”

    “So, come—” She hit the high note without straining.

    “Sail away with me.”

    “Oooo-oooo. Sail away with me.”

    He stopped at her table. Only then did she see that he wore a Jedi’s cloak. “Sail away with me.”

    They stared at each other, lost in the moment.

    The toydarian flew over to the Jedi and slapped his back. “Nota bad, Jedi scum. But thee still hasa to pay me with money.”

    “Don’t worry. I will.”

    She decided to take a chance. She offered him her hand. “I’m Princess Calida Strumm. I need your help.”

    He took her hand and held it. “I’m Anakin Skywalker. I’ll help you.”

    1. Reaper

      Cosi, for you and this story I will have to break my guideline about not commenting on fanfic. This is very cool. It has a nice combination of Starwars with Phules Company with some elements of Princess Bride and I enjoyed it.

    2. jhowe

      This bar was definitely not appropriate for princesses and you described the scene well. So many gleaming little tidbits sprinkled generously about. Very entertaining.

    3. Manwe38

      Love love love!!!!!

      This is GREAT, cosi!! The tone of the story is just perfect, and all those little Star Wars moments…just awesome!!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Chills and goosebumps here Cosi. As good writing as a prize winning screen play, maybe you should head in that direction. The world is desperate for good screen writers. And the money, she is good. Money doth make the world go around.

    4. Observer Tim

      I can just see the look on Obi-Wan’s face when he finds out about this. 🙂

      I’m having a little trouble placing this in the timeline: it appears to be just before Part II (Clones), but I’m not sure.

      You have inpired me to try to find an S-F take in my style. Waitaminnit! Didn’t we have that Rock’n Roll Space invasion prompt a while back…? 😉

      1. cosi van tutte

        Hey, OT!

        Initially, I was going to have it be a random Jedi or Qui-Gon or Mace Windu (just to be random). But I decided to make it Anakin.

        As for where this fits in the grand timeline of things, mmm. I’m gonna say sometime before Part 2. That means that Obi-Wan is probably lurking around somewhere off screen. He’s probably having a drink. 😆

        And, just so you know, I couldn’t help slipping Lando in there. It just felt right. 😆

    5. Dennis

      Lots of fun with this. Like all of the characters flowing throughout. And Come Sail Away, you maybe dating yourself with that one (Of course that means I’m dating myself as well) 🙂

  32. regisundertow

    She’d been hunting down the tank crew for days.
    Just one girl, hunting rifle in hand, cloak covered in sleet, half her face still stinking of burned meat and petrol.

    The Russians had a name for it. She remembered reading about it in a book. In her village, they called it the rain that never ends, and mud as far as the eye can see. It made tracking that beast as simple as following a burning torch in the dark. She didn’t know much, her teacher -hopefully raped and shot, and not burned like the others- had always reminded her. She did know, however, that tanks needed fuel and there was none to be found anymore, not that far from the front. She’d eventually catch up with it, she could walk for longer than anyone she knew. She would find the men operating it. She would put a bullet through each of their bellies and then she would show them how they exacted revenge where she came from.

    The pain and agony drove her mad, but they also drove her forward. She felt unable to rest, lest her mind realized the mess her body had become. She didn’t want her wounds to go stiff and slow her down, nor to scab over and make her lose flexibility. She hadn’t eaten since the tank tore through the village, but she felt more lucid and clear-headed than ever. She felt possessed. Her Christian upbringing protested against the thought, but she didn’t find it difficult silencing that part of hers.

    She’d been hunting down the tank crew for days, through the pastures and the grassland. She found the tank empty at the edge of a forest, its right tread buried in the mud, its insides blackened by a grenade. They had left three sets of prints and a trail of trash for her to follow. Two days later, she caught up with them deep in the woods.

    Three boys they were, the eldest no more than 20. His pale face was covered by acne, but he carried himself as an officer. She recognized the gunner’s shark eyes and wedge of a nose -it was the last face she had seen before the flames had engulfed her. The third one, a moon faced ox of a man, must have been the driver. They were cowering in a rock hollow surrounded by pines and ashes. All three were huddled over a pile of sticks, fussing with it and arguing.

    She laid flat on the wet ground, gun barrel resting on a stone. She spread her elbows the way her father had showed her and she sighted her targets. She felt her body already stiffening, but she wouldn’t need it to carry her for much longer.

    One, two, three. She pictured the shots. It wasn’t difficult. First she’d shoot them. Then, she’d spit in their faces while they shitted through their wounds. Once she’d finish with them, she’d find a quiet spot away from the rain and die.

    The pile of sticks started smoking and a flame leaped from it. The boy soldiers cheered and hugged, patting each other on the back. One of them, the driver, brought a handkerchief out and unfolded it to reveal a chunk of cheese. He flipped his stiletto open (she had seen that stiletto buried in her neighbor’s pregnant belly, she was sure of it) and cut each of them a big piece. They ate, relieved smiles on their faces, while she felt bile and blood rise to her throat.

    She had almost pulled the trigger, when their officer started singing. It was a slow, but joyful song. It was a simple song, written by a simple man. It spoke of longing for one’s home and sweet mothers and of feeling the chaff on your skin as you thresh your own fields. It spoke of honest toil and family. It spoke of thanking God for one’s good fortune.

    It froze her to her core that she could sing along. She had heard that song often, at least once a year at a nearby village’s fair. Her father would take her there to sell leather hides and furs.

    A tear rolled down her burned cheek as she hummed the song to herself. She was wiping it away with the back of her hand as the crack of a rifle reverberated in the distance. Moments later, a bullet shattered her skull.

    1. Reaper

      Is there such a thing as a zen christian dystopian revenge story? If not you may have just created a new genre. Wow, this is just all kinds of amazing and dark at the same time but with little hopeful moments. Well done.

    2. jhowe

      This was fantastic, so filled with action and emotions and description. Your sentences were exquisite and pulled me along effortlessly. This fits so well with my philosophy for this prompt exercise: The prompt gives you a platform to jump from and the rest is up to you with no restraints on how you chose to follow it.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Oh, the power of the writing totally overwhelmed me and placed me in your story. I felt the cold sleet, the pain she felt and the blood revenge that surged through her mind. She should not have hesitated for they deserved to die a miserable death and I am furious that she was unable to strike revenge. Don’t think I wasn’t into the story.

          1. regisundertow

            Thank you, Kerry. That’s the greatest praise one could hope for, that a story elicited an emotional response.

    3. Manwe38

      This was emotionally insightful and dark beyond words.

      You pulled me straight into your world, and it was full of pain.

      Where else could someone hope that a person they cared about would be ‘raped and shot’ as opposed to burned?

      Absolutely awesome on every level!

    4. Observer Tim

      As I read this, Al Stewart’s “Roads to Moscow” started playing in my brain and utterly refused to stop. This whole story is just so… Russian, right down to the failure as a result of giving way to sentimenality. The song at the end for me (totally anachronistic) is “Edelweiss” from “The Sound of Music”.

      1. regisundertow

        Spot on, Tim. Part of this story, I’m afraid, is loosely based on things that happened in WWII as told to me by relatives. The things they’ve witnessed…
        “Edelweiss” sounds about right. Something bucolic and completely innocent.

      1. regisundertow

        Thanks Dennis. The fact that we intentionally throw people in situations where one minute you’re there and the next you’re cast into oblivion is one of the most mind-boggling things about this species.

  33. jhowe

    Jose Luella Cruz was a multifaceted man. His brash manner was genuine and served him well while his easy going elegance contradicted in all the right places. One of his many indulgences was his love for rum martinis which he preferred with two ounces of spiced Captain Morgan, one ounce of Tribuno dry vermouth and a twist of lime.

    The Lazy Lizard was a low energy establishment on the outskirts of Santa Fe and featured a horseshoe shaped bar with scuffed epoxy topped tables and a jukebox playing old time country music. Jose shuffled through the sawdust on the floor and chose a stool at the bar. The bartender was stunning with shoulder length brown hair, impossibly blue come hither eyes and an alluring pair of ample breasts that constantly threatened to pop out of her cut-off Lazy Lizard tee shirt.

    “What can I get you Hon?”

    “Rum Martini.”

    “What?”

    “It’s like a regular martini made with rum instead of vodka or gin.”

    “We got vodka, I think,” she said as she started running beer glasses through the washing process.

    “Do you have any rum at all?” Jose said with difficulty as the bartender bent over the sink facing him.
    “Hey Charlie?” she said loudly, her eyes not leaving his. “We got any rum?”

    “No,” came a voice from somewhere.

    Jose said, “Oh wait, I see a bottle of Myers right there.” He pointed her in the right direction. She picked up the bottle and examined it.

    “Hon, I think we’re half way there,” she said with an electric smile.

    “Ok,” Jose said. “Put a good slug of that in the shaker and add some of that vermouth in the green bottle.” She did it. “Now add a scoop of ice and a slice of lime and shake it up.”

    Other patrons began to gather around as the shaking commenced. At first both assets bounced in unison but soon one got ahead of the other and before long they were twirling in opposite directions. “Is that enough?” she asked.

    “No,” Jose said as the others nodded in agreement. “It has to be shaken really well.” She increased her effort and a resonating effect started to occur causing one man to cover his ears while another shifted uneasily on his stool. “Ok, that’s good,” he said.

    She poured the drink and he tried it. “Is it good Hon?”

    “Yes, very good, but please, call me lieutenant.”

    “Oh, are you in the military?”

    “No.”

    “Cop?”

    “No.”

    “Ok then lieutenant,” she said. “I’m Luanne by the way.”

    “Luanne, how’d you like to ride with me to New Orleans?”

    “Louisiana?”

    “All day long,” Jose said.

    “How far is it?”

    “Seventeen, eighteen hours, if nothing happens?”

    “What if something happens?”

    “Two, three days…. maybe longer.” They studied each other, blue eyes on brown, barely blinking.

    “I vote for something happening,” she said.

    “Hey Charlie,” Jose called out as they turned toward the swinging doors with the red and yellow New Mexican sunset filtering in. “Get your ass out here and tend bar. Luanne and I are leaving.”

    Luanne said, “Sing with me first lieutenant.” She unplugged the jukebox and turned on the Karaoke system. A soft electronic hum sounded.

    “Do you have any Alejandro Sanz?” he said, picking up the mic.

    “No, but we got Sonny and Cher.”

    “Perfect.”

    1. regisundertow

      Oh, I love me some desert pulp 🙂 The “call me lieutenant” bit was gold. I hope you write more about Jose and Luanne, there’s a psycho-anarchic promise about them that I like.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Warm, romantic, sexy, fun, with beautiful descriptive writing. Oh and yes I forgot easy on the eyes and comfortable. I guess that’s about it jhowe. As natural a story as I’ve read in a long time.

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