Revolution Radio

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Writing Prompt: Revolution Radio

You’re a local disc jokey with a morning radio program. On your show you often take phone calls from commuters to talk about music and celebrity gossip, but on this particular morning you pick up a caller who says he’s going jump off the top of your building unless you play every song he requests during your show—and he’s purposefully picking songs that are hard to find or that he knows you hate! Start with him calling in and write this scene.

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

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109 thoughts on “Revolution Radio

  1. writer_sk

    This wasn’t the first time she’d slept on the cold couch at the community college’s radio station. It seemed nowadays the four of them were inseparable. The more Cath hung out with these guys, though, the more she wanted to be with Andrew, alone.

    Glancing at Andrew, she could see he was lost in his passion – underground punk music. He looked through his personal collection, having already cued up the next block of music and public service announcements, he had time to browse the records he bought yesterday. He took the Sex Pistols out of it’s sleeve. He didn’t even know she liked singer/songwriters but she knew every detail of his favorite 90’s era ska-punk band, Reel Big Fish. After that night of non-sleep she had decided this pursuance made zero sense. She nudged the blanket on the floor next to her that was Billy but her foot was met with soft pliancy.

    “Hey gang, DJ Drew, we are about to jump into a set from my personal collection here on HLP but first I’m going to take a call.”

    “Friend, you’re on with HLP, and me, Drew”

    “Andrew, uh, it’s me, Billy. I’m not right man. I’m mad. I’m up here, bro, I’m going to do it. I’m going to jump and end it all.”

    “Billy! What do you mean?”

    Cath ran to the window and to their horror she, Andrew and Jenna could see Billy atop the adjacent building.

    Desperation becoming the theme of Andrew’s overnight punk show, the DJ broke down, himself.

    “Billy, billy, we love you, don’t do it.” Andrew began to cry.

    “Just play me a song, Drew. Just play me the song that was playing the night you met Cath because she likes you. She’s in love with you and since I’m in love with her and she doesn’t like me that way and…and….she doesn’t love me, just prove it and show her you remember.”

    “The song that was playing?” Andrew trailed off, not normally being someone who thrived under pressure but he forced the panic away and authenticity came through. DJ Drew continued as his friend’s life hung in the balance.

    “I like Jenna, but the reason I won’t ask her out is because she likes you, Bill. The song playing the night I met Cath was “Manic Monday” from the Bangles at the diner that night after the punk show at the “Front St Pub.” The first notes of the song began as Drew had deftly switched out his indie-alt-punk selection with the ancient pop hit.

    “Here’s your song, bud. The reason I remember it is you, though. I knew we were brothers because you sat down and told me we should start a Bangles cover band and do punk versions of their songs.”

    The sirens sounded and the group watched from the station window as Billy agreed to step off the ledge and go with a nearby police officer.

  2. RWriting

    When I took this job I thought it would be exciting, but with all jobs the monotony has set in: every day I talk to the same commuters calling in about the same celebrities with a slightly different scandal, I listen to music that all sounds similar thanks to the disappearance of originality in today’s world, and I look at the same flashing light indicating someone is on the line. Oh, a caller is online! I pull myself out of my thoughts and

    “You’ve got Toni here, what’s on your mind?” Urg, the same old line spoken thirty times a day, kill me now.

    “Hi Toni,” a cheerful voice answers. “Funny you should ask; you’ve been on my mind.”

    Creepy. “Oh wow, that’s a fun coincidence.”

    “You sound bored Toni, bored with life. I listen to you every day, and the flair is gone. I think it’s time we help you get back on track.”

    I laugh, this is the best prank call I’ve had in weeks. I decide to play along. “Sure sir, what can you suggest?”

    His voice turns cold, business-like. “I have a test for you. If you pass, I don’t jump.”

    “Excuse me, did you say jump?”

    “I did. I am at death’s door standing on the ledge, ready to end it all. And only you can save me.”

    At the last sentence, I can almost hear him smirk. He’s done this before, it’s a prank, he’s bluffing. Or he’s not bluffing, and I actually hold his life in my hands. I sit speechless for a moment and watch as the caller lights in front of me begin flashing with listeners desperate to be heard. I make up my mind. “Okay, what must I do?”

    “Very good, you have passed the first test. Next, you will play ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.”

    I almost choke and mute our call to all our outside listeners. “Sir, are you rick-rolling me?” I hate the concept of rick-rolling, and on my very first time on the radio I shared my disdain for it and declared that I would never play ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ on my show. Surely it’s just a coincidence that he picked this song.

    “No, together we are going to rick-roll the country.”

    And suddenly the prank makes sense. There is no man on a building waiting to jump, there is no test. This was all an elaborate ruse to force me to participate in a rick-rolling. I laugh, type ‘Rick Astley’ into the search bar, and push play.

    While Astley’s dulcet tones drifted into the background, I continued to speak to the man off-air. “You know, I wasn’t in the mood for today, but I’m glad you phoned in and livened the show up. I’m not sure I would’ve gone with the whole suicide skit, but you really had me there.”

    “You have passed the second and final test.”

    Weirdo. “Very funny sir. You don’t need to pretend anymore, we’re no longer on-air.”

    “Toni, this was no joke. You became too serious and judgmental in your life, and a cynic through and through. I had two options: teach you to be less serious, or teach you the value of life. I’m glad you chose to play along.” And with that, the line went dead.

  3. EmEmWolfie

    “Hello?” 

“Hey! This is Station 2149, and you are caller number one! Amazing!” I forced out into the telephone with a fake cheery voice that masked my boredom. I had practised this DJ-voice for weeks, heck, MONTHS. “So today’s topic is about-“

    “I’m on the top of your building.”

    I froze. What the hell was I going to say to that? Sure, we got weird requests and conversations sometimes, but this was definitely new. “Whoa, what are you-“ “I’m going to jump, but only if you don’t play these songs.” There was a faint sound of buzzing on the other end of the phone. “Uh, sir, what ever you’re trying to do… We don’t take song requests on Wednesdays?” I tried. “I don’t care. You will play these songs, unless you want another human being to die.” 

I clenched the phone tighter. Our listeners could all hear this psycho, all over town. But I couldn’tlet a guy just die, when I could have stopped it, right?

    The man on the other end seemed to sense my decision and chuckled mirthlessly. “First song will be ‘And I Will Always Love You’ and I want it up in thirty seconds.” And I Will Always Love You? We were a contemporary music radio station, not the golden oldies – that was 19.53 OLD. Google saved my life – along with a speed-typing class I took in high school. “And IIIIIIIIIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUUUUUUU!” I winced at the music that rang in almost every ear in town.

    The man at the other side – or above my head – sighed in bliss (for what? I wondered) at the music. “That sure brings back old memories… Next, I want-“

    A garbled screech reverberated through the speaker. I swore that I could hear the wince and cringe of all the teens in the city that were listening. Why did this have to happen to me? “I want ‘How Could This Happen To Me’,” the man said through static. I sighed. At least it was more modern. We had it (thankfully) and quickly put it on air.

    
Once again, there was a silence on the other end as the song played. “How could this happen to me? I made my mistakes, got nowhere to run, the night goes on as I’m fading away, I’m sick of this life, I just wanna scream… How could this happen to me?” I could almost feel a tear.

    “Well, that’s all for now. No, forever.”

    And the line went dead.

  4. EmEmWolfie

    This is my first story, sorry this is late… And no personal taste is reflected in this story…

    ***

    “Hello?”

“Hey! This is Station 2149, and you are caller number one! Amazing!” I forced out into the telephone with a fake cheery voice that masked my boredom. I had practised this DJ-voice for weeks, heck, MONTHS. “So today’s topic is about-“

    “I’m on the top of your building.”

    I froze. What the hell was I going to say to that? Sure, we got weird requests and conversations sometimes, but this was definitely new. “Whoa, what are you-“ “I’m going to jump, but only if you don’t play these songs.” There was a faint sound of buzzing on the other end of the phone. “Uh, sir, what ever you’re trying to do… We don’t take song requests on Wednesdays?” I tried. “I don’t care. You will play these songs, unless you want another human being to die.”

I clenched the phone tighter. Our listeners could all hear this psycho, all over town. But I couldn’tlet a guy just die, when I could have stopped it, right?

    The man on the other end seemed to sense my decision and chuckled mirthlessly. “First song will be And I Will Always Love You and I want it up in thirty seconds.” And I Will Always Love You? We were a contemporary music radio station, not the golden oldies – that was 19.53 OLD. Google saved my life – along with a speed-typing class I took in high school. “And IIIIIIIIIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUUUUUUU!” I winced at the music that rang in almost every ear in town.

    The man at the other side – or above my head – sighed in bliss (for what? I wondered) at the music. “That sure brings back old memories… Next, I want-“

    A garbled screech reverberated through the speaker. I swore that I could hear the wince and cringe of all the teens in the city that were listening. Why did this have to happen to me? “I want How Could This Happen To Me by Simple Plan,” the man said through static. I sighed. At least it was more modern. We had it (thankfully) and quickly put it on air.
    
Once again, there was a silence on the other end as the song played. “How could this happen to me? I made my mistakes, got nowhere to run, the night goes on as I’m fading away, I’m sick of this life, I just wanna scream… How could this happen to me?” I could almost feel a tear.

    “Well, that’s all for now. No, forever.”

    And the line went dead.

  5. pinkbamboo

    “Good morning, who do I have on the line with me today?” I kicked off my sneakers as I settled comfortably on my seat.

    A sigh. Heavy breathing.

    “Helloooo, who do we have here?” I leaned forward with anticipation.

    “Hi.. I’m .. Ken. May I request a song?”

    “Well Ken, it’s actually our sharing segment. Question of the day is – as a society do you think..”

    “I want to request for BeeGees How deep is your love.. please? I’m standing at the top of the building across the bank and I’m thinking I should.. just jump.. ” more heavy breathing.

    Woah woah woah. I glanced at my boss who was standing out but quickly turned my attention back to the caller.

    “Alright Ken, we’ll play you the song. I hope that this will cheer you up” I laughed a little.

    As the song played, my boss walked in the studio with a frown.

    “Do you think he’s just playing? Is this one of those prank those youngsters are trying to pull nowadays?”

    “Andy, we cannot take any chances with this. Keep him on the line, I’ll make a call to the police”

    The song ended and I cleared my throat, half hoping that Ken had cut off the line so that I don’t have to deal with this mess. No such luck.

    “That was so beautiful…” he sighed and coughed several times.

    Silence except the sound the wind. A few seconds passed.

    “Hey Ken, thanks for your song request but we are running ..”

    “Play me the song Sorrow in my heart” he interrupted me.

    I slipped my hands in my right pocket nervously. This obviously did not come in the job description when I took this offer. Besides, I have never heard of that particular song. How do I tell him this? Will he jump if I tell him?

    “Ken, maybe you would like to uh .. talk to someone.. ” I scratched my head and twirled my phone in the hand.

    “DO NOT CALL THE POLICE! I WILL REALLY JUMP!” he suddenly shouted.

    I was taken aback and my boss looked awry. He gripped his phone tightly and shook his head.

    “Ken, no one is calling the police. We just want to help you”

    “You know what …My girlfriend left me few weeks ago and she moved on. How can she move on so fast from me? Is she doing this to hurt me? Whyyyy.. can you just end my misery?” he started crying.

    I took a deep breath.

    “Ken, life is not just about a girl. I’m sure you have family and friends who care about you. They are worried about you and I know you care for them too” I tried to be calm.

    “Everything hurts! My head hurts, my heart hurts .. ”

    “I know, Ken but really.. just think about it. Maybe your family is trying to call you right now because believe me, they do care”

    “They do?” another huge gasp of air.

    I nodded reassuringly at my boss “Yes, they do. Just give them a call, Ken”

    Some sniffles. A deep breath.

    “Okay, I’ll call them ..I’m gonna .. gonna.. read this thing..”

    I heard the phone moved away from him but a moment later the studio was filled with a loud scream followed by the vague sound of wind blowing and different screams of terror.

    I ripped off my headphone and pushed myself away. My boss raced forward and switch off the live button. I was given time off from work and I rushed out of the studio immediately, ignoring my colleagues.

    I took a long walk along the deck still partially shaken from the incident. This incident made me reflect on how fragile life is and how a wrong relationship could cut us so deep in such a twisted way. Without realizing it, I had tears running down my face.

    I closed my eyes feeling the breeze on my face. Life.

    My phone in my left pocket rang and I quickly picked it up.

    “Hey babe” I said sofly.

    “Andy, are you okay? That was terrible, baby” it was Amy.

    “I’m alright. Please don’t worry about me. I’m fine”

    “Do you need me to come over? I can make some soup and ..”

    “Honey, I’m okay. It was just a shock. I’ll see you tonight okay?”

    “Ok baby. That Ken..”

    “I gotta go, sweetie. I’ll talk to you later okay?”

    I just needed some alone time but I thank the lucky stars for Amy. Unfortunately Ken does not have someone like Amy. Maybe if he did, things might be different.

    I took a deep breath as I reached into my right pocket to pull out the phone. I turned it on and went into my sent box.

    – Back off. Amy’s with a real man now. Go to hell –

    After making sure the message had been deleted, a burden had been lifted off my shoulder and I smiled through my tears before dropping the phone into the water.

  6. dustymayjane

    I’ve heard the voice before.

    “C’mon Zippy, you don’t have any options. Play the songs or I jump, right past your window pal. You see, I’m on the station’s roof. Unless you want me to jump. Maybe you’re one of those creeps who like to watch a poor bastard jump and splat! Is that it…Zippy?”

    “I’m not one of those creeps. Now don’t do anything rash, things can’t be that bad.”

    I switched off the live feed but kept the caller on the line.

    “Good morning all you Kansas City commuters. You’re listening to Zippy Zeplin on Z-107 Kansas City. Is it a full moon or what? If you’ve just tuned in, well, it’s been an interesting morning. While I try to keep this loony from taking that final leap, here’s the latest from Pink to take you to your destination.”

    I picked up the phone. “Alright Pal. What do you mean calling on live radio and making threats like that?”

    “Well…Zippy, let me refresh your memory”

    As I listened to the ramblings of the caller I began to identify with some of the highlights and more so, the lowlights, unfortunately. This guy was telling my story. The schemes, the drug use, even the infractions on a friendship.

    “Hold on a minute. Who are you?”

    All I heard on the line was a chuckle and then, “How’re ya comin with that music…Zippy?”

    I switched the feed to the eight A.M. news and queued up another song to follow, just before opening the database to search for the songs.

    “You’ve got crappy taste in music Pal. I’ve got most of them but what is Chasing Sara? Who sang it?”

    “Don’t you remember…Zippy? That’s our song. Except it’s Sharing Sara…”

    “Sharing Sara? Kyle! Is that you?” It dawned on me. The voice, the stories. “What the…?”

    “Ya it’s me. I’m ready to end it buddy, end it all. And what better way than to take you down with me.”

    We’d written that song together. Sara was my one true love. Kyle also claimed that about her. Sara had come between us and in the end, left us both. Left us broken hearted and hating each other.

    I found the song in my personal library and pulled it up while a series of commercials ran.

    Into the phone, “Hey Kyle. Listen up and don’t do anything stupid.”

    Into the microphone, “Hey Kansas City, I want to share this special song from my old days. This is for Kyle and for you Sara. Wherever you are.”

    The haunting melody brought the past rushing back. I wanted to go to the roof and make sure Kyle was okay. I signaled my station manager to relieve me. He motioned me to pick up the phone as the song ended. I did.

    “We have a call. Who’s on the line?”

    A feminine voice spoke. “Hey Zippy. It’s Sara.”

    “Sara? Are you listening?”

    “Yes you moron, it’s me. I listen every morning. Now go get Kyle of the ledge before it’s too late!”

    I turned my chair to find Kyle behind me. “Hey, sorry Zippy. I’m alright now. Can I talk to her?”

    I handed him the phone and cleared the open line so all of Kansas City didn’t have to listen to the sappiest reunion ever.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is heartwarming in a strange way, Dusty. It’s the kind of story that could be made into a short film very easily and would be every bit as entertaining. But then, I’m a sucker for a happy ending. You did a great job capturing the MC’s shift from borderline burned-out to finding a new lease on life. This take brought a smile to my face. 🙂

  7. Hiba Gardezi

    When you’re a disc jokey and you take your life pretty cool with cold pizza for breakfast and cereals for dinner you don’t expect to have blood on your hands.
    I for one on Saturday the 15 of June did not expect to kill anyone with music.
    ‘Hello, Susan!’ I called over the radio to my caller, ‘Hope your day’s going great. Wha-’
    ‘Stop.’ The voice was ice cold and for a moment I felt a rock in my throat.
    ‘Don’t be all perky.’
    I wanted to end the call there and then and run back home but today was pay day.
    ‘Okay’ I gulped. In monotone ‘How can I help you, ma’am?
    ‘I’m standing on your building right now.’
    And something made me think she did not want to come on in for tea and cookies.
    ‘And I will jump off.’ I felt a weight in my chest.
    ‘Ill jump off in one minute if you don’t play the song I want you to play. Don’t end the call. I’ve got a long list.’
    ‘Which song?’
    ‘I went there by you know who.’
    ‘Who?’
    ‘You know who or you should know who.’
    ‘I don’t. Who?’
    ‘Find it yourself dirt bag.’
    This girl really pumped up your confidence!
    It took me a while but I found the old song from ‘53 by ‘you know who’. It was a band apparently. I snorted as the music played. Loud screechy noises but long and slow almost.
    ‘I went there,’ the singer shouted, ‘Ohh! I went there! And I tore his heart out of his chest!’
    I really didn’t like this.
    It went on for half an hour before I had to stop it.
    ‘That’s it folks! We’ll come back after a short break!’
    Just then I heard a loud bang above the building.
    And through the window I saw a rope ladder fall along the wall.
    A young girl maybe 10 or 11 with shoulder length hair a thin pale face climbed down in a parka, a blue shirt and jeans. Was that black lipstick?
    I opened the shutters and grabbed her hand. This was Susan.
    ‘Let go lady!’ She shouted.
    ‘No.’ I closed the shutters, locked the window and threw the key in the exhaust.
    I was NOT going to miss my pay check. I’d promised Carl, Pauline and Sam dinner at Joe’s.
    ‘What do you want with me?’ Her gaze was piercing at it was hard to stare at her but I did.
    ‘What do you want with me?’ I asked the same question. ‘I mean all I’m trying to do is live my life make some money and you come along pooping on my parade. Millions of people heard me, I bet. If you kill yourself they’ll blame me.’
    ‘They should.’
    ‘Why? What have I done to you? I can’t play two hour long songs that make your ears want to bleed all day long. People will stop listening to me.’
    ‘That’s what you get for ruining my life.’
    ‘I don’t even know you.’
    ‘Oh yeah? She pull off her wig and wiped the goth make up.
    I gulped.

    1. Observer Tim

      … and?!

      You got me hooked, Hiba, and now I’m all curious about who this girl is and how the DJ knows her. This is a really great start but it definitely needs a finish. I want to know more.

      P.S. I Googled “You Know Who” and found a band by that name. I’m not sure you’re referring to them, and I was scared to listen just in case…

  8. Pete

    I strayed a bit from the prompt…but I don’t know where else to put this….

    It was the fifth inning of the Winkton Wingtips/Puttingham Red Sox game—when the horizon treated the fans of Henkin Stadium to a dreamy pink backdrop—that Jimmy Spencer stepped up to the plate for the Wingtips.

    Bill Hargis made the call from the booth. For twenty-seven years Bill was the voice of the Wingtips on WRJC, 1060 The Light. It wasn’t ESPN, Bill knew as much. An insurance guy by day, Bill’s voice took on a deep, folksy cadence, perfectly timed to the smack of a ball in the mitt. He worked wonders between the innings, and unlike ESPN, truck stop listeners could so much as smell the popcorn in the stands. Bill weaved homespun tales to cover even the longest of rain delays. He’d once filled a twenty-eight minute gap in play due to a runaway herd of pot belly pigs on the field with a seamless game of Where Are They Now? Wingtip trivia.

    But today, there were no tales. There was no magic and no popcorn. Bill was tired.

    “Hey Wingtip fans, remember that Thursday is WPD night, so come out and support those who protect and serve…Here we go…Jimmy Spencer to the plate…bat up, butt out, looking to score…just as he has so many times with my wife….the pitch…”

    Another smack of bourbon as Jimmy fouled twice before falling victim to a sharp curveball.

    “Whoosh. Jimmy goes down faster than my wife at the Econo Lodge. Listen, folks, if you’re looking for a deal in lawn care, just remember, Franklin Lawn Care has got you covered. All four seasons. Call today or check out their Facebook page…”

    Puttingham homered in the sixth, pulling away in the seventh, Bill Hargis, troop leader, youth minister, play-by-play announcer, managed over twenty-two FCC infractions while linking his wife’s infidelity to no less than five batters.

    “Crowd didn’t like that call…” Bill deadpanned in the eighth, glancing across long stretches of empty bleachers. Some gray hairs chewing peanuts. “They’re downright feisty tonight.”

    The top of the ninth got underway. Bill loosened his tie. “Folks what you may hear is the glass window being opened in the broadcast booth…”

    Footsteps above the diehards behind home plate. Bill, roaming around up there, fingertips touching as he spoke. “See folks, I’m a man out of options. But don’t let that happen to you, slide by Pittman Plaza for all of your shopping needs. Okay, Burgman at bat…”

    And old habit, even with his loafers at the ledge of the new grandstand, Bill Hargis was still plugging the sponsors. Out on the diamond, young men craned their heads, shielding their eyes with their gloves. The first base coach was pointing up to the deck. “Hey, what’s Bill doing up there?”

    Heads turned to the man contemplating a jump—a plunge of maybe seventy feet tops, a distance that might to the trick or could just break a neck, certainly a leg Bill, still with the headset, the cord snaking through the open window, gave the players a farewell salute.

    “Seems to be some commotion on the field. Play stopped momentarily. I’ll take this lull to mention that this is my final appearance folks. But first let’s all stand for the National Anthem. We can still do that, right, take a stand? Okay, tell you what, so long as we keep that anthem going I’ll stay right here, standing up, remembering what it means to make a commitment.”

    Compelled by such a desperate request, the sound guy cue’d the National Anthem. Bill placed his right hand over his bourbon stained heart, swaying some as the song hit its stride.

    When it did, the door to the luxury suite swung open. An attractive but frantic middle-aged woman rushed out, knocking a tray of popcorn from a cart as she scrambled for the broadcast booth. Her face was flushed and her makeup smeared. Trailing behind her was Marty Henkin, the withered owner of the Wenton Wingtips, looking winded with his shirtails flapping, his belt loose.

    Henkin Stadium came alive. The diehards, hats over their hearts, attending to the flag while anthem played on. Security crashed the gates, unsure whether to storm the roof or freeze and fulfill patriotic duty. Two firetrucks had clogged the parking lot, while a shaky first base cameraman zoomed in on the guy on the rooftop, hoping ESPN would pick up the story.

    1. Observer Tim

      You strayed well, Pete. Great job building the sense of frustration and hopelessness in the MC, all wrapped around a baseball game and small town life. This is a beautiful depiction of rural angst. At least in the city the sins can be hidden in a crowd.

    2. Kat

      I loved your descriptions and language including “Bill placed his right hand over his bourbon stained heart, swaying some as the song hit its stride.” I could picture it so well that it made me a bit sad. Nice Job.

  9. jhowe

    I tried posting this story a month or so ago and it wouldn’t get through. I changed a few words to see what will happen now. Sorry I went against the prompt. See if you can spot the vanillaized words.

    My roommate stumbled into the kitchen, grizzled, bed-headed, wearing boxers and a dirty undershirt. His eyes, mere slits, scanned the littered countertop for a coffee cup, dirty or clean. He found one, poured, spilled on the floor, used his sock as a mop.

    “What’s in the box, biotch?” he asked, slurping his first sip.

    “I don’t know, it was outside the door.”

    “What time is it?” he said.

    “Almost eleven.” I eyed the shoebox sized cardboard box, swore it shimmied.

    “Crap, I missed calculus,” he said. I groaned inwardly, knowing what was coming. “Why the hell didn’t you wake me up?” As if that was possible after the kegger the night before.

    “Did you hear something?” I said, looking at the box. He ignored me and drank his coffee. “I think it just moved.”

    “The Alpha Deltas sent me a box of dog doot last year.” He scratched under his arm. “Some kind of new comer ritual or something.”

    “Dog doot doesn’t move.”

    “Probably a lab rat then.”

    “Who’d send a rat?”

    “You’d be surprised what these a-holes are capable of.”

    “I’ll give you five bucks to open it,” I said.

    “I’m in.” He found a butter knife in the sink and cut the shipping tape. He peered under the flaps, closed it and set a physics book on the box. He held out his hand for the money.

    “I’ll catch you later,” I said. “What’s in it?”

    “Looks like they shaved a squirrel or something.”

    “Why would they do that?”

    “That’s like asking why a suicide bomber blows himself up. It’s in their genes, man.”

    “You mean the Alpha Deltas?”

    “Hell yes. Didn’t you watch Revenge of the Nerds?”

    “What do we do with it?” I said.

    “What else; we send it to the Sigma Kappas.”

    “The cheerleaders? Won’t they be pissed?”

    “Naw, they’ll probably send it back to the Alpha Deltas, thinking it was from them. Poetic justice at its finest.”

    As it turned out, it was a shaved mink. And it had rabies. I sat at the curb with my duffle bag, waiting for my father to come.

    “Tough break dude,” my roommate said. “Thanks for not ratting me out.”

    I said nothing.

    “What time is it, man?”

    I showed him my watch.

    “Oh crap.” He ran off, late once again.

    1. Pete

      Ah doot, good story, Jhowe. I remember this prompt. It’s so annoying, to write something then not be able to post it. You wouldn’t think a writing site would censor words.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I love it John, takes me back fifty or so, probably more. Pranks, girls, pranks, girls, goes hand in hand. You captured room mate banter perfect;ly. Every one seemed to have a scumbag standing in a corner or hiding in a closet. Thanks for the memories.

    2. Observer Tim

      Oh, the naughty language, John! I’m glad you reposted it in its original form, and how did you bribe Brian to let it go even though it contains the word “duffle”? 🙂

      In seriousness, nice one. You captured the college semi-slacker vibe perfectly.

  10. Observer Tim

    MORNING RADIO

    “Welcome back commuters, that was Spoons; here’s hoping you have some Romantic Traffic too. This is Katy in the Morning on WSHT, where the name says it all. News on hour and half-hour, next traffic when it happens. Go ahead, caller, you’ve got Katy in the palm of your throat.”

    “Hello, Katy. Remember me?”

    “Charlie? OMG, listeners, it’s Dulcet Charlie, WSHT’s late-night jockey. ‘Sup, bro?”

    “Well Katy, I’d like to request a song. Remember Let’s Go Crazy? Play it.”

    “Ugh. You know I hate that song, Charlie.”

    “It doesn’t matter, Katy. Perhaps Mister Walker can convince you.”

    “Do what he says, Katy! He’s got a gun!”

    “What!? WTF Charlie?”

    “Play the song, Katy.”

    “That was Prince with Let’s Go Crazy. Apparently our night man Dulcet Charlie has taken it to heart. He’s holding five hostages on the roof of this building and has threatened to push them off if I don’t play what he wants. If the authorities are listening, come to Fifteenth and Walker and bring a SWAT team!”

    “Katy… what did I say about talking to the police? This could seriously impact the bottom line. Here Mr. Martin, go check it.”

    “<fading>No…..”

    “Oooh, a lot of red there. But I guess he’s used to it from doing the station’s books. Now, you have my playlist Katy, play the next song.”

    “Charlie, this is sick!”

    “Play it. Now.”

    “I’m sorry, listeners; that was Kiss Kiss Kiss by Yoko Ono. Up next is Baha Men with Who Let the Dogs Out. Just shoot me now. During the song, if anyone has an airable copy of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes with the original words, send it to my Facebook account; you could literally save lives.”

    “…come on, Charlie, nobody’s ever heard of the Dead Skunk song. And it’s waaay outside our play– Oh, we’re live. Hello listeners, this is Katy in the Morning; if you’ve just tuned in, Dulcet Charlie, WSHT’s night jockey, has taken hostages on the roof of the station and is ordering us to play what he wants. That was Michael Jackson’s Ben; up next is She Bop by Cyndi Lauper. But first, maybe Charlie can shed some light on why he’s doing this. Charlie?”

    “I told you, Katy, the station has been taken over by aliens. They’re using subliminal messages played under the top forty music to soften up our brains for conquest!”

    “Thanks for the news from the land of wack job, Charlie. And now, God help us, a song about mast–”

    music starts

    “That was ELO’s Twilight, the only song on this list I’d willingly play. Charlie’s in custody now, and after the commercials we’ll be returning to our regular top forty playlist.”

    soft beat with mic background

    “Don’t worry Rylond, nobody will believ–”

    voiceover cuts

    1. jhowe

      I did manage to find a song in there I liked. ‘Ben’ was a great one, if you ask me. And maybe ‘Dead Skunk.’ I kind of remember that. The segmenting worked well with this. I enjoyed the back-and-forth between Katy, the listeners, Charlie and the other radio employees.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, John. This was kind of fun (and time consuming) to write because I ended up listening to all the songs except Anything Goes (which the Porter estate keeps tight control of). Actually, I like Romantic Traffic (it’s world-famous in Canada), Anything Goes, Dead Skunk, Ben, and Twilight. But my tastes are not top 40. I was hoping to sneak in How Can You Believe Me When I Say I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life but word count suggested otherwise…

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Say hey Tim, I’ve got Cole Porter running out my ears. Cole Porter song book Ella Fitzgerald. Want a disc, just let me know. How about Amhad Jamal At The Pershing. You want Jazz, I’ve got jazz back to the mid fifties. Loved the story by the way. Last count on vinvl 33’s over 2200 and still collecting. A lot of old ones are mono. Does anybody out there know with mono means?

          1. Observer Tim

            I had a lovely MP3 of the 1920’s era version of Anything Goes but I lost that and my King Cole Trio version of Route 66 when my hard drive went south. Waah!

            As for mono, I had several records and even some cassettes in monophonic sound. Heck, I remember when the FM stations started going stereo…

    2. Kat

      I loved the structure of the story and Katy’s personality. Did not see the alien thing coming, loved that little twist. This was really good and again nice structure it reminded me of a short film.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Hi creative. If you are new to the site. It takes a little longer, because the first one needs to be reviewed.. I know it’s frustrating to wait but check late morning. It should post. Kerry

  11. SargentBlaum

    “You have made it on the air; we leave no-one going spare: tell me your woe if you dare, and we will play your despair!”
    “You guys are all a bunch of hacks, you know that right? Couldn’t write a jingle if it attached itself to a Christmas bell with a ribbon that had ‘try me’ written all over it!”
    “Another satisfied customer – always good to hear from you. Could you give us your name and where you are calling from?”
    “The name is Gareth. I’m sitting on your roof, looking out over the oozing traffic on 2nd street, and I’m ready to make everyone’s morning commute the worst experience they ever had.”
    For a few precious seconds the radio station was silent, and then the DJ spoke again: “Well Gareth, sounds like a pretty lonely perch. What misery drove you up there and what can we play for you?”
    “You think I’m joking don’t you? If the feedback on the radio wasn’t so bad with this phone, I’d turn it up loud enough that even the jokesters outside your booth could hear it!” There was a faint hint of feedback as Gareth moved past the radio he had setup there on the roof, working with a string of Christmas lights as he went. “Now you listen you little guano gobbler, I want you to play a song called Dzisiaj w Betlejem, good and loud.”
    “Er.. I’m not sure I understood that. We have lots..”
    “You better play it in the next sixty seconds, or I’m going off your roof with a string of Christmas lights – the whole City will know Santa jumped because you didn’t play his request!”
    “I thought you said your name was Gareth?”
    “What, you think the guy in the suit is really Saint Nicholas?”
    “There might be children listening, Gareth, do you..”
    “Right – I’ve ruined their Christmas as well, just because their parents never had the guts to spill the truth about this glorified Hallmark holiday – it’s all about spending money, guys, no-one cares about the origins of the holiday! Saint Nicholas is spinning in his grave!”
    “Gareth, we can’t locate that song you asked for right now, would you settle for a local choir singing Silent Night?”
    “Listen buddy, because you’ve only got thirty seconds left. Have one of your lackeys look out the window, I’ve started to trail the Christmas lights ahead of me. Make sure they appreciate these lights because these random sequences are hard to find these days, and they set me back a bundle, but if you’re going to go out in style, you have to pay the big bucks, right?”
    “He’s signalling to me.. yes Gareth, he can see the lights, but they aren’t on our building.”
    “What?”
    “You’re on the building over the road.”
    Silence, and then a muttered sentence: “Couldn’t even get that right.” Then there was a fading scream through the open window, followed by a garish display of flashing lights. No-one dared to look down.

    1. jhowe

      Wrong building, dang. I looked up ‘Dzisiaj w Betlejem’ and see it translates to ‘Today in Bethlehem.’ Pretty powerful story about a man who couldn’t take the commercialization of Christmas.

    2. dragonchef

      Maybe Gareth took the plunge because of the real story of Christmas – a week long Roman pagan celebration conveniently renamed by religious officials.
      Crazy, Sarge.
      But, amidst the funny sides of this prompt, this bomb drop was an eye opener to the reality of suicide; and more importantly, suicides that correspond to Christmas. A sad state of affairs.

    3. Kat

      The last dialog line is pretty dark which i liked since it is the complete opposite of the beginning of the story
      Also I loved the the DJ’s Dialog, it immediately gave me a clear picture of him.
      Nice Job.

  12. creativemetaphor

    The intern gestured wildly through the window, pointing to the phone and holding up four fingers. Troy made a note to talk to her about professionalism but picked up line four anyway.

    “KRED, you’re the air.”

    Troy waited, met only with some heavy breathing.

    “Good morning, you’re on the air with T-Roy. Who’s this?” he tried again.

    A muffled sound of someone blowing their nose followed, and then the cracked voice of a woman. “Is this T-Roy in Tacoma?”

    “Yes it is, and you are live on the air,” he said, glaring at his intern. “Who is this?” There was another pause, and Troy could hear himself in the background. “Ma’am, if you turn off your radio this will go a lot easier.”

    “I’m sorry,” the woman said. “I can’t do that.”

    There was a strange disconnect in her voice. Despite the sniffling and occasional crack, her voice seemed otherwise devoid of emotion.

    “Well, my intern seems to think you wanted to talk to me,” he said. Troy’s hand hovered over the button which would end the call.

    “The view is really quite pretty from the top of your building,” she said, followed by another sniffle.

    “Excuse me? You’re on the roof?”

    “Well. For the moment.”

    Troy finally gave his intern a big thumbs up. In the other room she nodded and got on the phone.

    “Well, ma’am… sorry, what did you say your name was?”

    “Rome,” she said after another pause.

    Troy could still hear himself in the background, a few second’s delay between broadcast and reception.

    “Rome, huh? That’s an interesting name. Well, Rome, what can we do for you here at KRED?”

    “I want you to play a song.”

    “Well, we’re not really taking requests at the moment-“

    “You’ll play this song,” she interrupted. “You’ll play it, because if you don’t…”

    Troy waited, but dead air is death on the radio. As soon as he decided she wasn’t going to finish the thought he spoke up.

    “What song did you want, Rome?”

    “Four to the Floor,” she said. “Four to the Floor, or I’ll take the short way down.”

    The intern gestured at the window again and gave a thumbs up in return when Troy looked over.

    “I don’t think I’m familiar with that one,” he said, meaning the song itself but leaving it open to be misinterpreted. He resisted the urge to ask her to ‘hum a few bars and I’ll fake it’.

    “Starsailor,” she said.

    Troy had never heard of it, assuming it was the artist. He scribbled a note as he spoke.

    “Is that any relation to Rosebud?” Troy laughed at his own joke. “Well, listeners, it sounds as if Rome is saying she’ll jump if I don’t play the song. Have I got that right, Rome?”

    Rome gave a few heavy breaths.

    “Yes.”

    Troy held up the scribble for his intern, indicating she should find the song.

    “Okay, I’ve got our station intern looking it up.”

    Breathing.

    “I must say, this is a rather extreme way to get a song on the radio, isn’t it?”

    More breathing, then the sound of pops and bumps as the phone, and presumably the person holding it, moved.

    “Rome, you still with me?”

    “I can see Jefferson park from here,” she said with a hint of wistfulness.

    “Well, Rome, I’m just keeping an eye on our station feed for what some of our helpful listeners have to say. ‘LB’ writes ‘How did someone get onto the roof, don’t you have security?’ That’s an excellent question ‘LB’. I’d like to remind our listeners that they can send in their comments to KRED@Kmail.com or to my show, @T-RoyKRED. KRED, the station with cred.

    “If you’re just tuning in we’ve to Rome up on the roof who’ll be jumping if I don’t play this song she’s requested. Rome, how about you tell us a bit about what brought you to this moment while our station intern continues to look for this song.”

    “I’m afraid you won’t find it very interesting,” she said.

    “I’m sure that’s not true,” Troy said.

    “Are you going to play the song?”

    Troy looked at the queue on his panel; ‘Four to the Floor’ was scrolling on the read-out. He glanced at the monitor in the corner, watching the live news coverage play out silently. A crowd was gathering along the street. The intern held up another note.

    “Just as soon as we find it, Rome.”

    “I can’t wait any longer.”

    The camera zoomed in.

    “Why is that? What is motivating this kind of extreme behavior? We’ll be having psychologist Dr. Landstrom joining us a bit later in the studio to discuss what drives people to these actions- oh, and it seems the fire department has just arrived on the scene. Isn’t this exciting? I remember when I was a kid, I got to ride one in the parade. These men and women, many of whom are volunteers, just do such an amazing job, don’t they? If you see one, why not give him or her a handshake and thank them for their service.”

    “Play the song,” Rome insisted.

    “These things take time,” Troy said, trying to assure her.

    He kept his eye on the monitor, where she was just now stepping out onto the ledge.

    “Lots of good comments still coming in @T-RoyKRED; looks like someone went and worked out that it will take you a little less than six seconds to hit the pavement if you simply step straight off the edge, but if you jump first, it could take almost seven. These are the kinds of daily things most of us just don’t think about.

    “Once again, listeners, this is T-Roy in Tacoma and we’re broadcasting live here on KRED, the station with cred, as someone named Rome seems to be considering jumping from the roof of the station building unless I play along. I mean a song.” He hadn’t meant that at all. He had been right the first time.

    “Rome, are you a long-time listener and is this your first time calling in?”

    Breathing.

    “Listeners, if you’ve got any advice you’d like to offer Rome, write in at KRED@Kmail.com or send a comment to @T-RoyKRED. If it’s good I’ll read it on the air. ‘KarlX’ just sent in a note which reads, ‘Should have packed a parachute.’ Ouch. I mean, he’s got a point, but…”

    “You want a comment?” Rome said, voice still dull. “You want a statement?”

    “You’re making quite the statement already, Rome,” Troy said. “Aren’t you? Isn’t that what this is really about? Not some song?”

    A brief silence.

    “You won’t play the song.” It wasn’t a question, nor even a statement. It was a resignation.

    “You’ve hardly given us enough time to find it. It seems to be a very obscure request.”

    “Nero fiddled…” she said, then took a step.

    “One… two… three… fou- huh. Maybe I count a little slow,” Troy mumbled, then put on his DJ voice again. “Well, listeners, it seems Rome may have been a little confused, I believe the phrase is ‘Nero fiddled as Rome burned’, not ‘fell’. But there we have it: Rome has fallen.”

    The music began, Troy talking over the first few bars before the lyrics kicked in.

    “And now, a tribute to Rome and others like her; here’s ‘Four to the Floor’, by Starsailor.”

    He muted his mic and swung open the door to his sound booth where the station manager was standing.

    “Good job, Troy. We’re already showing a spike in ratings, with an estimated forty percent jump in listenership in just the last five minutes!”

    One of the secretaries covered his phone receiver with his hand and whipsered, “This is the third new company asking for our ad rates.”

    Troy turned to the intern and gave her a pat on the back.

    “Good job, kid. I was worried at first but you really pegged that one! There’ll be a bonus in it for you.”

    As he returned to the booth, he added, “Get me a coffee and let me know when the psychologist gets here!”

    Troy settled back into his chair and listened to the last few lines. Catchy. With any luck, it would hit number one on the charts. As the song ended he turned his mic back on.

    “Once again, that was ‘Four to the Floor’. Remember, you heard it first on KRED, the station with cred.”

    1. Observer Tim

      This is so dark and cynical it’s depressing, but I’ll have to say depressing in a good way (whatever that means). It’s a nice twist, but I hope for the DJ’s sake that nobody finds out it’s a hoax. That sort of thing can really turn and bite you. Great story, Metaphor.

  13. Kat

    “My name is Kidd, and I am going to kill myself.” The radio host held his breath and turned to his coworker who grabbed his cell, fumbling to keep it still, ready to push 9-1-1. The Host turned off any communication towards the listeners.

    “You’re not Kidd, that’s not possible. We don’t like prankster’s.” The Host shivered. No one outside could have known.

    “Play a song, but play the right song.” Kidd’s voice was steady and committed. There was silence in the room as fear clamped onto their throats. They listened to steady breathing. Breathing that shouldn’t be there.

    “Look whatever you’re trying to do, it isn’t going to work.”

    “Play the song that I wanted.”

    “It’s him!” His coworker’s cry startled him. The Host muted himself and turned to see him holding onto his necklace whispering.

    “Call the police.” The Host mouthed.

    “Play the song. The right song. The song that wasn’t played before.” Kidd’s voice had a low growl. The shivering Host could not, even if he wanted to, play the song. He thought back to a day. A simple day that turned horrific. A guilty day.

    “Kidd, stop.” The Host whispered as he unmuted himself.

    “Play it. Play the song. Play it. Play the song. Play it. Play the song . . .” Kidd repeated.

    “St-stop, please.”

    “Play it. Play the song. Play it. Play the song. Play it. Play the song. Play it. Play the song.”

    “Kidd, I can’t. You’re not letting me!” The Host panicked.

    ” Play it. Play the song. Play it. Play the song. Play it. Play the song.”

    “Kidd, it was your decision not mine.” Static now filled Kidd’s voice disfiguring it into something dark. Repeating and repeating and repeating and in that moment the Host thought he would lose his sanity. Kidd’s voice grew louder. The station shook with a rumbling that intertwined with Kidd’s and all the Host could think about was a day a year from today.

    “It wasn’t my fault! You jumped! You!” The Host yelled, “I had nothing to do with you!”

    Then it stopped.

    A calm and stern whispering from his coworker now filled the sudden silence. “In the name of Jesus Christ I forbid evil from any source from harming us . . .”

    “All you had to do is play a song.” Kidd’s young voice whispered, just like before.

    “I know.” The Host said.

    “It was you. You. You. You . . .” Kidd trailed off until he was nothing again.

    Then after ten or so minutes The Radio Host turns on communications. “Sorry about the technical difficulties, but as I was saying, any requests?”

    He will forget, until Kidd decides to remind him again.

  14. Kerry Charlton

    BY ANY OTHER NAME

    The year is 1959, the city Dallas and the biggest AM station in Texas, KLIF, dominated the music world in the metroplex. Morning drive disc jockey, Brad Cunningham, a former football great from SMU who had left a trail of broken hearts from Fort Worth to East Texas, was spinning wax at 5:17 AM on a weekday morning.

    “KLIF, Hello this is Brad, slow down, you want me to do what, play a request? Okay, what is it?”

    “Who in Hell is the ‘Electric Toilet Band? Oh, they’re new are they? You’re going to do what if I don’t play their best hits? Jump off the top of our building, are you?

    “Well come on down sweetheart, we’ll talk about it, no need to jump 42 floors for a new band.”

    “Oh, you don’t like guys sweetheart and that’s why you’re so upset?”

    “Yes, I can understand that, that’s way to small for a man hood. Maybe you should have tried another guy. What’s that? You have? How long? Well, I don’t blame you for running. Hold a second, I need to insert another cart and song, be right back“.

    What is your name darling? Donna, that’s a pretty name, do you know Del Shannon wrote a song about you?” You haven’t heard ir, well I’ll set it up for you at the next break. You’re very welcome, I’m glad you’re not thinking of jumping any more. Sad are you Donna, how old are you? Seventeen’s a good age, you’ve whole life’s ahead of you.”

    “Your parents won’t talk to you, too busy are they? Well, I’ll talk to you, I’m here to nine this morning.. You will? That’s great, maybe you can help pick out records. We have a new Paul Anka, ’Put Your Head On My Shoulder‘ You haven’t heard it, well you’re in for a treat“.

    You know where we are on Main? Okay, check in on the third floor, ask for Sarah, I‘ll tell her to escort you here and she‘ll sit in with us. That okay? Who me , I‘m 28. . Thank you for the compliment but I’m way too old for you. But I would like to be your friend, will that do? Hold sweetheart, another cart.”

    Okay you getting ready to leave, don’t hurry we have until nine this morning, Be careful driving. I’ll call the garage and leave a pass for you, just ask the attendant.
    Thank you Donna, I’m also happy to have a new friend, look forward to seeing you.”

    “Charlie, you on duty this morning? That’s good, please do me a favor, there’s a girl coming down in a few minutes, her name is Donna. Can you park her car and escort her to Sarah’s office. It’s way too dark for her to be alone this early. Thanks Charlie.”

    “Hi Judy, put me through to Sarah will you?”

    “Good morning Sarah, there‘s a girl on her way to visit…………”

    “Now Sarah, this girl needs help., you know me better then that. I want you to sit in with us and talk to her with me. I’m not sure she isn’t suicidal. She sounds like she’s at the end of her rope.”

    “You are a kidder, Sarah, you’re gonna blackmail me and tell the world what I’m really like? I’ve got news for you, they’d never believe you and don’t go talking good about me. You hear me?”

    .
    ……

    1. igonzales81

      That’s an interesting one. Really hard to get a read on the MC. Sounds like a nice guy, but he clearly has something dark in his past. Very well done, with just his dialog, keeps the story moving at a good pace. Great job!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        The MC is definitely sinister, you got that right, but already blew past the 500. Thanks as aleays, igonzales. First time ever trying a whole story in one way conversation, a fun way to write.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks John, sometimes, I want to kick the 500 from here to Chicago for limitations, She’s also a wacko, probably. A perfect pair, wouldn’t you think?

    2. Observer Tim

      I didn’t get the impression of a sleaze, just a real guy from the early days who’s trying to build the reputation of a sleaze. I belive they used to call them posers. For some reason the song “Pilot of the Airwaves” started playing in my head as I read this, even though it is an anachronism for the story.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Tim, you nailed it , he was a poser, and Sarah threatened to pull the rug out and nail him as a good guy. Nobody remembers slow women or good guys, only bad and wicked. KLIF is a real station owned by Gorden McClendon. We used to go to all his parties, he bought a bankrupt country club in North Texas, turned it into his personal home. He had his private gplf course, built a complete Western movie set for one of his close friends, John Wayne. But a cool, friendly guy, down to earth and filthy rich. Oh, the good old days when I was in the record business.

  15. Pete

    Everyone knows all the great ones die at twenty-seven. Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, Cobain. That dude from Blind Melon. I think Tupac was twenty-six. No matter, here I am, three days before my twenty-eighth birthday, alive and well but not so freaking great.

    I’m out on the ledge. The eighteenth floor of the Billups Building. Where I wrote the lyrics to our classic song, I WANT TO DO IT WITH YOU. It’s my thinking spot, where I go to smoke a J and clear my head. My perch above the world. But I’m not feeling so perch worthy right now.

    The band broke up last night. Ben, getting married Max hitting the road with the new job. That leaves me, the only serious member of Cottage Cheese, about to make his mark on the world, or more specifically, Commerce Street.

    But I have a few things to do before I take my leap. Mainly calling that windbag Arlo at the Edge.
    88.7 claims to be so hip and cutting edge. The “Edge” is supposedly friendly to local musicians, only it’s not. Arlo even named Cottage Cheese the worst of 2015. Calling I WANT TO DO IT WITH YOU something middle school kids would write on the bus. I swear, sometimes, I just feel so misunderstood. I punch the numbers. 555-EDGE

    “Arlo, you’re in the air.”

    He likes to say IN the air instead of On the air because he’s a pretentious D-bag. He runs his own podcast, and thinks he’s clever. Whatever, I’m on a mission. “Hey Arlo, my favorite clueless DJ. Guess who?”

    “Elvis?”

    “It’s Elvin.” I get to my feet. The cars looks small from up here. Just like that I’m writing a new song in my head.

    “Hey, it’s our favorite lead whiner. How’s it hanging?”

    “Actually not to good, Arlo.”

    “No? Don’t tell me, the band didn’t get that record deal?” Shocker.”

    “We broke up.”

    “I’m actually sitting atop the Billings Building, Arlo. Things aren’t so hot right now, Arlo, in fact I’m going to jump.”

    Arlo, the prick, actually goes silent. I can hear the whoosh between us, all that airtime going to waste. I make a note to write a song titled “The Whoosh Between Us”. Finally Arlo chuckles, but without his usual prickness.

    “Come on, Elvis, that’s not funny.”

    Nothing but wind in my hair. A tickle up my legs. All that’s left is the falling. Song? Maybe. “I’m serious. But I’ll tell you what Arlo, since you’ve been such a fervent supporter of the band, I’ll give you a chance to keep me alive.”

    “Look, Elvin, I don’t.”

    For the first time, he’s said my name right. I pounce. “If you play WE SHOULD DO IT, on repeat, for the rest of the night, maybe I won’t take the plunge.”

    “What? Elvis, er, Elvin. Come on. Get some help, buddy.”

    “People are listening. My life is in your hands, Arlo.”

    “Oh come on. Jumping aside, the song’s is awf—”

    “One….”

    Arlo’s voice goes higher. “I don’t have it, why would I have that song?”

    “I emailed it to you. Two…”

    “Okay, okay just a second. Uh, here it is folks, the Edge helping a man on the Ledge.”

    “Stop getting cute, Arlo, play it. And keep playing it.”

    “Uh, okay. Here it is folks, Cottage Cheese. Enjoy.”

    WE SHOULD DO IT hits the airwaves. I thrust my hands to the sky. Still twenty-seven, with three new songs kicking around in my head. And I’m still alive. For now.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Great nail biter, Pete. I felt sure he would jump. You did a good job, pushing me off course, it usually doesn’t happen. I liked the MC’s name confusing with Arlo Guthrie. Everything about this is good.

    2. jhowe

      Haunting story from the POV of the jumper. I’m glad it turned out well. What a way to get your song played. I’ve always been intrigued by the 27 club.

    3. Observer Tim

      Nice jumper POV story, Pete. I think Elvin is already halfway to the stairs if he’s thinking up new songs. I wonder how many times he’s really going to have to hear it before he comes in off the ledge. I love the subtexts of this.

    4. dragonchef

      Cottage Cheese. The band is aptly named. With two songs, I WANT TO DO IT WITH YOU and WE SHOULD DO IT, their repertoire is rather redundant. The band’s theme is most definitely “middle school”. Too many Js and not enough Zs.
      Definitely an edge of seat read, Pete. I guess the suspense reader in me wanted Elvis to slip, thus adding himself to his list of “greats”–you wrenched my gore feeding out from under me. But, the “nice” ending was still good. A sigh of relief, as it were.

  16. cosi van tutte

    Yeeps! Sorry about this one’s length. 🙁 But at least it’s under 1,000. So, yay?

    ****

    “But, Benedict! You can’t leave me. I’m going to have your cousin Ralph’s sister Marguerite’s second cousin Josephine’s brother Iggie’s paternal Aunt Twig’s grandchild. Ten of them!”

    “Ah know that, baby. That’s why ah gotta hitch mah wagon to another star and find mahself a brand new restin’ perch.”

    “But, Benedict! I lurve you!”

    I sigh.

    This is the last day of my life and I’m watching sleazy soap operas on my iPhone on a park bench.

    There has to be a better way to go.

    “But, Benedict! If you leave me. where will I go? What will I doooo?” She clasped the sides of her face. Her diamond rings, all ten of them, sparkled fervently under the studio lights. “What will become of meeeee?”

    “Ah don’t know, baby. And ah, ah don’t really give a hoot.”

    I want to go out in a blaze of glory. Not in a pathetic nose sniffle.

    Blaze of glory.

    I remember that song.

    I loved that song.

    And so did she.

    She really loved that song.

    I set my phone on the park bench as I understand. I see it all so clear.

    I know how I want to leave this world.

    And it will be awesome.

    ***

    “Helllllooooo, Cardadona Beach! It’s me! Your favorite host and mine as well – (Bring out that drum roll, Drew.)….Gubby McGubberston! Whoooo! Can I hear a Woop! Woop! Ah, but anyways. It’s Open Lines Tuesday! And you all know what that means? You can call me and request any song you like. ANNY song. It can be a rare 1940’s disco track by Greer Garson. It can be Buzz Buzz Squeedeeleese’s entire first album. Heck! I’ll even play Celine Dion for you. I’m just that awesome. And if you wanna talk about stuff? Hey! That’s what I’m here for. Talk away, little comrades and buddies. I’ll answer your questions. I’ll make you laugh. I’ll rock you with my awesome sauce. Hahahahaha! Ahh, I just crack myself up.”

    “Ahh, looks like we have a winner already. PUSH THE BUTTON, MAX! Ahh, sorry. I love me some random Great Race quotes. Jack Lemmon. Tony Curtis. Ah, but anyway! Hello, beautiful. You’re on the line. Say what you wanna say and say it—-”

    “I’m up on the roof.”

    “Eh?”

    “I’m up on the roof.”

    “Oh. Ummm. You wanna talk about why you’re up there? You tryin’ to get a good look at the night sky or—”

    “I’m going to kill myself.”

    “Uhhh. You really shouldn’t do that.”

    “I know. But she left me. In a blaze of glory. In his powder blue Mustang. In his overly tan arms.”

    “Uhh. That’s just too bad. But come on! Killing yourself over some dumb chick like that—”

    “Play Blaze of Glory by Lady Gaga.”

    “Umm. ‘Kay. But what will you do? Jump off while I’m playing it? Kiddo, where I come from, people would say that’s just morbid.”

    “You don’t understand.”

    “No. Not really. No one’s ever dumped me. I’m just too awesome. You know?”

    “No. I don’t know.”

    “Huh? How could you not know?”

    “It’s cold out here. Do you think it will hurt when I hit the ground? Or will I just—”

    “More morbid thinking. Blech. You know, there is the possibility that the fall won’t kill you. It’ll just smash all of your bones and they’ll have to set them all, which will be a sickening, long process and expensive to boot. No personal knowledge of this sort of thing. It’s just one of those things you hear about and cringe over.”

    “Smash all of my bones…How would that not kill me?”

    “Pure, insane luck. It does happen. Just like drunk drivers who stagger away from hideous traffic accidents with nothing but a sprained pinkie.”

    The caller went silent. His breathing was the only sound. “Smash all of my bones.”

    “Trust me, kiddo. You don’t want to do this. Won’t do any good anyway. Your Blaze of Glory chick…Hmm. Can I call her Gloria?”

    He shivered. “Her name’s Amanda.”

    “I’ll go with Gloria. Anyway, there’s a 50/50…No. More like a 70/30 possibility that she’ll hear of your sad demise and think “UGH! What a loser.” And she’ll go on with her life all la-di-da, but you’ll be dead. I don’t see how this is going to help you any.”

    “She won’t come back to me.”

    “So? Killing yourself will bring her back?”

    “She’ll miss me.”

    “And again. She’ll go one with her la-di-da life and you? Dead, smashed beetle. Not the best plan to get sympathy from her, champ.”

    “Well! What should I do then? Huh? What should I do?”

    “For starters, climb off the roof. That would be your starting point.”

    “I want to jump.”

    “Do you really, kiddo?”

    “I don’t know. I’m scared. It’s such a long way down. I know it will hurt. I don’t want to hurt. But I hurt inside. I want that hurt to stop. I want to end it.”

    “Please. Don’t. Listen to me. Climb off the roof. Go seek help.”

    “How? Who can help me?”

    Gubby looked up at his producer, Drew.

    Drew held up a number for Suicide Prevention.

    “Uhh, I’m going to give you a number.”

    The caller started to cry.

    “Hey. Hey. Listen to me. You’re gonna write down this number, right?”

    “Yeah.”

    “And you’ll get off the roof like a sane, civilized person, right?”

    “Uh-huh.”

    “No jumping.”

    “No.”

    “Call them. They’ll help you.”

    The caller sniffled.

    “Okay? Can you do that?”

    He sniffled and blew his nose. “Yeah.”

    “Tell you what. Come down here to the studio. And I let you call them on my phone. Can you do that?”

    “Yeah. I’m coming now.”

    “No jumping?”

    “No.”

    “Good. I’m waiting for you. Stay on the line. Keep talking to me.”

    Another messy-sounding sniffle. “Okay.”

    “Okay. I’m waiting.”

    1. dragonchef

      Successfully putting the kibosh on the jumpers plans.
      I love the whole beginning soap opera scene. Especially this:”. . . ah gotta hitch mah wagon to another star and find mahself a brand new restin’ perch.” I think I said that a few times myself.

    2. Beebles

      Great Cosi. Goes without saying the opening is pure gold. I liked the way you wrote the DJ – he stayed in character, didn’t turn into some psycho-analyst – he was still a dj, doing dj talk, all the way through.

  17. igonzales81

    My arm freezes, coffee cup less than an inch from my mouth. “Come again?”

    “You heard me: play The Runaways “Don’t Go Away” or I’ll jump from the roof of your building.”

    “You can’t be serious,” I blurt out, before the ramifications can hit me.

    “Oh, I am,” the caller sounds happy, in a creepy way, like they’re really ready to do anything. A high-pitched giggle comes over the line.

    Clearly, this guy is on the edge, in more than one way.

    I have to be careful how I handle this. I’m no shrink, but it doesn’t take one to figure out that the best thing to do is play along. “Okay, comin’ up now.” I don’t recognize the title, but the internet comes to my rescue. A second later, the music starts. Maybe it’s me, but I think there’s a reason I’ve never heard of the song. Really not my thing; I feel a pang of sympathy for my listeners.

    “Ah, that’s it,” the caller says with a sigh. “Now that really takes me back.”

    What can I say to that? What should I say? Should I be calling the police? My gaze goes to my phone. What if the caller hears me? What if he jumps because of me? That’ll be on my conscience for the rest of my life. Not to mention how totally sued I’ll be.

    I sit there sweating bullets for the duration of the song, my mind going back and forth over my options. Too bad there’s no one here to help me, but I’m holding down the fort tonight. It’s a small station, and most of the time I’m on my own.

    “Now let’s hear another one,” the caller says. His voice is so high that it cracks. Maybe he’s on drugs. “I want to hear One Direction’s ‘What Makes You Beautiful’.”

    I barely contain my groan. “Sure thing.”

    I hope I don’t get fired for this, even as I start the song.

    Then it hits me: I can text the cops. The caller won’t hear me that way. With leaden fingers, I snag my phone.

    “You know,” the caller speaks suddenly, and I nearly drop my phone. “You’re a good DJ. I don’t know that anyone else would have given me the time of day.”

    “Uh, thanks.”

    “I mean, these big, corporate run radio stations are all the same. Singularly obsessed with ratings. Wouldn’t play an unpopular song to save a life.”

    Big, corporate radio stations? Is he completely insane? Probably. “So is that why you called KBXO? ‘Cause we’re a small town station?”

    There’s a long pause. “This is KBXO?”

    “Yes.”

    “Not KBXP?”

    “Uh, no.”

    A loud exhalation comes over the line. “What the… I have the wrong station. I hit the wrong button on my phone and it brought up your number.” He laughs. It’s a really creepy laugh, like bats in a cave. “I’m sorry to bother you. Have a nice night.” The line goes dead.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, igonzales!

      “He laughs. It’s a really creepy laugh, like bats in a cave. “I’m sorry to bother you. Have a nice night.” The line goes dead.” Oh my gosh! The creep factor just burst through the roof. *shudders*

    2. dragonchef

      Ha! Wrong number. What a maroon. Probably didn’t even realize it was a one story building (small one-man operations usually are because they can’t afford the rent in a multi story building).
      Too funny IG – though you may not have meant it that way. Still, a good read . Thanks.

      1. igonzales81

        One of the best things about any form of entertainment is that it’s open to interpretation. How the audience perceives it is up to them. All I want from a piece is for my readers to enjoy it. I hope I did my job with this one.

    3. Kerry Charlton

      Boy, we’re all writing about Looney’s this week, of course, the prompt suggested it and we follow along. Loved the last line, “I’m sorry to bother you. Have a nice night.

  18. Robin3486

    “You’re on the air with Ricky Rancid on WRIP, Kansas City’s only Death Metal station.” I drone, in my practiced dj voice. “What’s your request?”

    I have been the voice of death metal in our area for three years now. The angry genre seemed a good fit for my mood since the death of my daughter.

    Olivia was taken from me four years ago today. As difficult as it is for me to keep in my Rancid character on a day like today, it seems to be the only one I can handle now. I can’t remember how to be the person I was before the accident. That person was a father after all.

    “I have a request.” My wife’s familiar voice fills my glass booth through the phone line. My breath catches in my throat.

    “Play Olivia’s song.” Karen demands.

    “I can’t.” The dark eye makeup that has become my new mask starts to run down my cheeks.

    “Richard, I need you to do this for me. I lost Olivia. I can’t bear to lose you too.” She cries. “I am on the roof of WRIP right now. If you can’t even play her song for me, I will know you’ve gone as far away from me as she has, and that will be the end of me.”

    As I picture her on the roof a presence fills the space and a peace comes over me. It is a peace that I have not allowed myself to feel in a long time. “Daddy, it’s ok. It’s beautiful here and I have so many people taking care of me. I am happy. Go and take care of momma, live a happy life and I will see you later….alligator.” I can hear her giggle in my head just as she did each time we said it.

    “In a while, crocodile.” For the first time in four years, I remember. I remember her voice, her face, and how much she loved life. How much she loved to laugh. I finally allow myself to smile. “How could I have forgotten?” I wonder.

    I know that I won’t find the song in the WRIP database but I have it saved on my phone. I could never bring myself to delete it no matter how angry I was. It was Olivia’s favorite. The choir sang it for her at her funeral.

    “Amazing grace how sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me.
    I once was lost but now I’m found.
    Was blind but now I see.”

    I set down my phone and leave it playing through the mike in the booth as I head for the stairs.

    “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
    And grace my fears relieved.
    How precious did that grace appear
    The hour I first believed.”

    Karen meets me at the door. We reach for each other. “We’re going to be fine.” I whisper to her. “I’m so sorry. I am back now.”

    “My chains are gone
    I’ve been set free
    My God, my Savior has ransomed me
    And like a flood His mercy reigns
    Unending love, amazing grace”

    1. dragonchef

      Touching read. Amazing Grace – one of my all time favorites. The first time I heard it as a sax solo I cried – can’t remember the artist, unfortunately. Nicely played, Robin.

    2. Observer Tim

      My third favourite hymn, despite a few issues with the theology (it doesn’t quite align with my gang). You took the prompt in a direction I hadn’t even considered, Robin. Bravo for both the take and the sentiment.

      P.S. If you’re interested, #1 is “I feel the winds of God today” and #2 is “The Old Rugged Cross”.

  19. dragonchef

    “Good morning! This is the Morning Commute on KWTF radio, 95.1 ready to take your request. What can we play to bop you on down the road to work?”

    “Good morning?! This is not a good morning. This is a sucky morning and I am on top of your building getting ready to jump.”

    “I’m not sure I know of the song, ‘Sucky Morning,’ my good man. How about, ‘On the Way Down’, by the Ryan Cabrera?”

    “On the way—what?! Are you some kinda funny guy? You will play, ‘Why did you have to leave me,’ by Dexter. And after that you will play every song I request until the end of your show, or I am going to jump.”

    “Dexter, did you say? I don’t remember Dexter ever singing on that show. Can you hum a few bars? Maybe that will JUMP start my memory.”

    “Not ON Dexter, dingus, BY Dexter. It’s on YouTube. You better play it or I’m jumpin.”

    “Sorry, brother, but I don’t have access to the internet today—ISP problems you see. But, I can have ‘I Believe I Can Fly,’ by R. Kelly all queued up and ready to go for you in just a sec.”

    “Do you have listening issues? I said you will play all MY songs—or I am going to JUMP!”

    “Say, aren’t you the guy who called last week who wanted me to mic his ears and play the song in his head or you were going to cut yourself in half with a hack saw?”

    “What? No, that wasn’t me . . . and I said a chain saw, not a hack saw. Who ever heard of cutting yourself in half with a hack saw? Now are you going to play my songs or are the people below going to watch me plummet to my death from your roof? It’s on you, buddy.”

    “On me? I think more like it will be all over the people on the street when you hit the pavement. How about this song . . . ‘Jump,’ by Kris Kross? That’s a good one.”

    “Have you got potatoes in your ears? I don’t want to hear Kris Kross, Kris Kringle or Kris anything for that matter. I want to hear Dexter!”

    “Now, Billy Bragg has, ‘Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards.’ Always a good jumping song. I almost jumped off a bridge when I heard it.”

    “Crikey! You have GOT to be the worst request line jockey ever.”

    “No need to be rude, friend . . . Wait! I do remember Dexter singing a song in that show. It’s called ‘Some Other Time.’ Would you like to hear that?”

    “Wait . . . Michael C. Hall sings ‘Some Other Time’?”

    “He sure does. I think it was when he was on his boat tossing some trash into the drink.”

    “. . . Okay. Let’s go with that.”

    “I’ve got coffee. Why don’t you come to the studio and we can listen together?”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        When you go back to the 60’s, zany dj’s were the mode. Especially top AM stations. You captured this guy beautifully, I was quite at home reading this,since I was in the record business for 23 years. I met every looney I think ever existed.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is waay out there dragonchef. The story is zany on the outside and thought-provoking on the inside. It seems like the caller is crying for attention and the DJ is very subtly engaging him. Nice layering of meaning.

  20. jhowe

    It’s the hottest day of the year. I should know because I just reported the fact at the top of the hour. Carl is sweating through his second Led Zeppelin tee shirt as I once again dial down the thermostat. I think it’s just for show. The boss probably put it in as a prop to satisfy Carl’s larger than thou ego.

    “Do you have a gun on you?” Carl says through splayed fingers.

    “The song will be over soon, Carl.”

    “Then what will the psycho want, Muskrat Love?”

    “I kind of like that song.”

    “Typical weatherman bullcrap.”

    “Look, if the bastard jumps, we’re toast. The whole city’s listening. I bet the boss is practically having a party in his pants with the ratings and all.”

    The song ends and Carl adjusts his headphones. “Ok, hotshot, you ready to come down?”

    “Tell the ding dang firemen to lose the net,” the caller shouts. “If they don’t take it down I’ll run off the other side.”

    “Did you hear that, Seattle’s finest? If he runs off the other side, it’s on you, not me.” Carl lowers his voice. “Ok, hotshot, it looks like they’re taking it down.”

    “I wanna hear Seasons in the Sun, now.” The caller’s voice is calmer, as if the songs are cleansing his mind. Maybe a few more and he’ll come down.

    “Excuse me, Seasons in the Sun?”

    “You heard me, Terry Jacks, 1973.”

    “We don’t have it.”

    “I know how it works, butt face. You push a few buttons and we’re rocking. Don’t try to dink with me.”

    “Did you say freaking rocking?” I push down the air in front of me with my palms. Stay calm, Carl.

    He doesn’t stay calm. “Go ahead and jump, hotshot. I don’t care and I’m not playing another lame song. My listeners are already getting ready to join your sorry butt up there.”

    I commit a cardinal sin. I switch Carl’s mike over to me. I watch the redness rise in his face. “Hi caller, Jake Beyer, staff meteorologist. Look, no one wants you to jump. Carl here has a little problem with his musical tastes.”

    “If I hear one more Motley Crue song this week, I’ll jump for sure.” From around a corner, the boss nods at me, his cell phone in hand.

    “I kind of agree, but you’re listening to The Rocker 101. What exactly do you expect?” I signal to Carl and he puts on Girls, Girls, Girls and cranks up the rooftop speakers. The caller’s screams are barely heard. A few seconds later, the dummy crashes to the ground in front of the stunned crowd.

    The fifty thousand dollar fine stings a little, but before long, we’re back at number one. Carl’s still sulking that we didn’t let him in on the stunt. But it wouldn’t have worked if he had been. I whistle Seasons in the Sun as I prepare my forecast. Who says Rock and Roll is king?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I got it ig, WKRP Cincinnatti. John, remember the Turkey stunt on WKRP? Turkeys dropping everywhere. Why didn’t I think of this before writing. Loved the ending, especially “Who said rock and roll is still king?”

    1. Observer Tim

      This is crazy, John. Actually, 50 grand is about a year’s promotion (i.e. prize) budget for the radio station I normally listen to. Not a bad investment for the stunt. I can so see this happening. Nice job!

  21. thejim

    (I am sorry – for personal reasons I cannot attempt to write about a potential suicide.)

    Instead (Contained from a week ago – If you recall Thomas and Judy escaped the Dark Doctor by impaling his head with a mall.)

    It had been ten years since Judy and Thomas Lancaster escaped from the musty basement of the Lordorin Foundation.

    Thomas resigned his tenure and the two of them went into hiding. Always in constant fear for their lives.

    It had taken this long to gain new identities and resume a, somewhat, normal life. No matter what they did somewhere deep inside their souls, fear was always present.

    Thomas flipped on the news and the 3D display projected the latest outcome of the overpopulation crises.

    “I can’t believe that the Atlantic expedition failed again.” Thomas said has he muted the sound, “There was nothing wrong with the Water Splitters they tested. They spent years verifying they worked and as soon as it was installed, it failed. They said it was something like 300 workers died because it converted the water into a deadly gas, how is that even possible? Water is made up of, Hydrogen and oxy…”

    “Honey, I know, it is all part of some big plan they have going, can’t we just put all of that in the past and just fade into the crowd.”

    “I’m sorry, Thomas slowly rose from his chair, I am also sorry about what happened, you know he had some kind of mind control or, I don’t know, I’m just glad we are finally free. I just know something is going on, it is all too predic… “Thomas stopped himself, “Sorry, let’s just eat and have quite night.”

    Splintered wood shot everywhere as a deafening explosion hit the front door. Thomas and Judy fell to the floor and a hand full of heavily armed men ran into the house. Three men tried to grab Thomas; he stood up immediately and began to fight back. Then a sharp swing of a metal rod cracked Thomas across the head and blood rushed out of the wound and his body fell limp.

    “Thomas!” screamed Judy, as she tried to catch him as his body toppled past her onto the floor.
    A rag over Judy’s mouth muffed her screams and she quick faded off to sleep.

    “I don’t understand what direction we are supposed to be headed in, I keep getting mixed signals from the board.” Byron’s eyes lifted to the ceiling as if some great revelation would appear above his head. “If you ask me, I think that this technology just doesn’t make sense. How can this device sustain the Quantum energy of our souls and if it does, is there consciousness, understanding?” Byron peered out from the observation room into the large research facility; in the center of the depository, there stood a Quantum Containment Chamber or QCC.

    “That one unit is supposed to save mankind.” He placed his hand lightly on the glass as if he was touching the QCC.” Silently he whispered to himself, “I pray to god that it will.”

    With a loud crash, the door to the room swung open and in strode Doctor Lordorin. His long black cape brushed the ground behind him. His large ominous features were much more terrifying up close. Although he no longer went by the name the Dark Doctor, the darkness in his eyes pierced the soul of anyone who looked to long into them. No one questioned his authority; no one dared to cross him.

    “What is going on? I told you to verify the integrity of the QCC and see if there are irregularities or weaknesses, I cannot have a breach. Next week we will being transferring over 100 humans into the chamber and I want to be sure it is ready. Not waiting for a reply, he turned abruptly and headed out of the room. With a wave of his arm, “I want no mistakes,” he said, without turning to see if anyone was listening.

    “Why can’t he call them people like everyone else?” Paul said as he grabbed his FRES Voltaic meter and headed out to the chamber

    Byron picked up his phone and hit the number 2 on the speed dial, “We will have a window tonight, at about 2am, make sure you’re here on time and no slip-ups.” After ending the call, he quickly removed any evidence of making the call.

    The phone in the control room rang, Byron’s body jumped involuntarily. “Yes what is it?” he could see it was Paul kneeling down next to the QCC.

    “You better get down here right away.”

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a nice continuation, theJim, but I fear more questions have been asked than answered. You did a good job keeping the sense of immediacy. My only quibble is that I would have preferred a more compact summary so there would be extra words available for the story.

      I can see this playing out in 12-minute installments at the Bijou.

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