Monthly Archives: December 2012

Trifecta Challenge: Santa doesn’t do salads

                Trifextra: Week forty-six: This weekend we’re asking you to write 33 words that will make us laugh or smile.  Even a chuckle will do.

                  Santa Claus stuffed his large, dumpy ass down the magical chimney and groaned loudly. He couldn’t believe after years of negotiating with the elves, they still refused to build him an expensive gym.

                 


One doomsday in December.

Authors note: According to some, the world will end next week. I don’t think so, but I can’t stop my imagination from running wild and writing a what-if short story of something crazy taking place. This account of the End of the world need not happen, I hope it doesn’t. But if it does, at least I gave you fair warning. Music to read by: “Seasons in the abyss” by Slayer.

I was eating wonton soup the day the earth moved for the first time. My kitchen resembled a normal size closet, there was a tiny fridge shoved in one corner and I ate my meals on a small plastic table situated along a wall near a cracked window. It overlooked a crowded street with an overgrown park on the opposite side. I had some money but interior decorating was lost on me, I was single and barely home. I couldn’t have cared less. There was always noise outside, but not now. A quiet had come over the city and was followed by screams of terror when the globe shook again. The world was being called to account for its selfishness and I had a nightmarish view.

It’s funny how time slows when a catastrophe is taking place. When monotony is broken and everyday life is in jeopardy, people become animals and no one can stop the carnage that’s left in their path. I witnessed the anarchy, I watched the elderly get crushed in stampedes and the young abandoned by their parents. Material possessions meant nothing now, important schedules weren’t kept, and trivial arguments were forgotten. My own success as a writer was flushed down the toilet. When fire began to rain down from the heavens I was just another terrified man looking for shelter.

I didn’t sleep the night before. I had stayed up intentionally and after midnight, I figured we were safe. There weren’t any bells or whistles, no gongs ushered in the end of the world. I hadn’t seen any angels or demons, no intergalactic battle between aliens and humans, no warning. The end came like a lion stalking its prey, it waited in the brush for a time and then pounced on humanity, tearing it to shreds until it bled out.

I watched a documentary that week on the Mayan civilization and their take on the apocalypse. A reporter interviewed several “professionals” about the subject. All but one laughed at the absurdity. They mocked the signs and disregarded the ancient people. The doctor who voiced his agreement had beady eyes and a pointed nose. He rubbed his hands together nervously and with mock seriousness, told the camera to prepare for destruction beyond the scope of the human imagination.

I had always walked past the lunatics with signs proclaiming the end of the world and wrote them of off as fanatical drunks. But they had been right. The world as we knew it had collapsed and the government could do nothing to save the people. Oh, I am sure they had reserved a nice spot for the president and his staff deep underground somewhere. The rich and famous were sleeping in disaster shelters. But guys like me, well, I never thought much about it. For all intent and purposes, I had made a “disaster” backpack and kept it in my Jeep. It was mostly protein bars, flares, beer and rope.  I figured if the world ended on December 21, I would relax in the park across the street with a beer in one hand, a protein bar in the other, and I would watch asteroids streak across the sky and hurtle into earth.

I am not a violent man but when gunfire could be heard throughout the city, I reached into my closet and pulled out my own shotgun and began loading it with ammunition. The thought of going to a park and getting wasted never crossed my mind and I forgot about my useless survival kit. I was able to run down the emergency stairwell to safety. I wanted to be on ground level and away from tall buildings. I was going to call Audrey but hesitated. We hadn’t spoken since she rejected my offer for marriage three days earlier. I think she was sleeping with her boss and besides, she hadn’t phoned me to see if I was alive.  I let him worry about her.

A group had congregated near the emergency exit behind my building. I knew these people, we had been friends. But like I said earlier, darkness takes over a person’s heart when their own lives are at stake. They talked quickly and interrupted each other, they threatened and cursed. I walked away when I had the first opportunity.

“Could this be it? You said nothing was going to happen!”

“I never thought this shit was true. Hey, Hey! Get away from my car!”

“Has anyone seen Ralph? Poor little thing must be frightened all by himself…”

“I told you to grab more water! What are we going to do with two bottles! Tommy! Yo Tommy! You have to go back for more! ”

“I have some ammo too. I’m not taking any chances. We should take stock of our supplies and lock up tight. Who knows if the earthquakes are over? We need to worry about our own. ”

“Worry about yourselves, that’s what everyone else is doing!”

The crowd hushed when sirens began filling the air with mechanical, bloodcurdling screams. To make matters worse, a foot of snow covered the sidewalks; massive drifts dominated alleyways and intersections. The temperature had dropped below freezing during the night and remained bitter through the better part of the following morning. People prayed and begged for help but nothing could be done.

My friends were sliding on frozen pavement and plunging into the belly of the earth, cries for help could be heard all over, but many were snuffed out quickly. It was a ghastly sight. The news stand attendant met an untimely demise too. He was taking a bite out of a sesame seed bagel when the earth decided to open up and let off steam. The poor bastard tilted backwards with wide eyes and outstretched hands and went to his grave with cream cheese on his face.

The city I loved was completely flattened. Bloody heaps of human remains littered the streets. Billowing clouds of smoke and fire poured from the crust of the earth. Looters wielded bats and took what they could. I watched a man put a bullet in his own head. A young child screamed. The National Guard stood by helplessly while the evil emerged from their holes and took the city hostage.

And then something happened I could not explain.  The hairs on my neck stood up and every sense in my body was heightened. I told myself there was no such thing as ghosts.  But hell taught me a different lesson that day. Before I died, I remembered hearing very loud chanting. I heard ancient whispers echo into my ears. I could hear drums and wooden flutes and when I closed my eyes, I could see Indians dancing around fires.

It was then that I saw spirits exiting the massive cracks in the ground.

At first they were very beautiful, greens and yellows and reds mixed into one trailing wisp of air. The people in the streets could not fathom this phenomenon. They stood and watched and some defecated themselves. Others approached the ghosts in childlike wonder and laughed. The blood in my veins froze as dead warriors started marching forward, their faces melted into horrible masks. They opened their mouths and revealed rotted tongues. I saw the weapons they brandished, I heard them chant one more time, and then everything went black.


Rose of Sharon

Authors note: Music to read by “There’s no place like home” Michael Giacchino

Wicked dreams invaded her sleep. The nightmares had been going on for some time, and there was nothing she could do to stop them.  Every night, when the moon would creep over the horizon and extinguish the comfort of the sun, great waves of fear would wash over her soul. Sweat would soak the nape of her beautiful neck as she ascended the staircase one step at a time. Shadows would play tricks on her mind, causing her to see things that weren’t there, hear things that could never exist. Her house was very quiet after dusk and making noise would only summon ghosts, she tread lightly in pink, cotton slippers.

Rose of Sharon was an exceptionally gorgeous young woman filled with brains, courage and up until recently, a sound mind. When the clocks in her home struck the coming of bedtime, she prayed silently for one night’s sleep without waking up screaming. The vodka had helped but was wreaking havoc on her body, the hypnotist was a waste of money and the dream catchers she had purchased from the Indian reservation were malfunctioning.

Her mother had loved John Steinbeck’s novel Grapes of Wrath, so she named her daughter Rosasharn and spelled it exactly the way he had. She figured a child with three first names was more likely to be bullied than anything else.

The troubled girl put a kettle of hot water on the stove and waited for it to boil. She was drinking herbal teas to help relax her body before attempting to fall sleep. She took a seat at the kitchen table and looked at the black and white photo of her mother sitting on the counter. She loved her mom desperately, and could almost hear her whispering quietly in her ear like she had when she was a child. “Rosasharn, my sweet Rosasharn, sleep well precious one…you are special don’t ever forget that.”  

She slipped her cheek into her hand and tried not to cry as memories of her mother flooded her vision. Her dark hair was hanging loosely so she took a strand and twirled it in her fingers. When steam erupted from the teapot, she poured herself a cup and dipped and dangled the small teabag until brown liquid floated around in delicate circles. The hour was approaching and a tiny knot began to form in her rock solid stomach. If her mother had been alive, she would have asked her to sleep beside her to stay away the demons. She wasn’t embarrassed by this terrible fear of hers. She had confided in her boyfriend once, but he had laughed and told her to take some sleeping pills. She never broached the subject again. She was alone in this battle for sanity and dread overtook Rose of Sharon’s heart.

After finishing her tea and making it safely to her bedroom, she flipped off the light and climbed underneath the Egyptian cotton sheets. Once her eyes adjusted to the hellish darkness, she gazed around to make sure the boogeyman was not lurking in a corner, or worse, underneath her bed. She checked her cell phone to see if he had wished her goodnight. He had not.

Pulling the blankets up to her chin for warmth, she looked out into the night’s sky and noticed the full moon staring down at her, burning into her retinas. Her mother used to tell her that the moon was Gods bellybutton. She giggled at the stupid, but sweet memory. She felt good tonight and maybe sleep would come without any repercussions. The tea was working its’ magic and numbness spread up her toes and towards her neckline. It was only an hour before she began to dream.

Lightning bolted across the clear desert sky and was not followed by thunder. There were no clouds, no rain, all was still. Streams of electricity dominated the atmosphere, not even a god could survive the onslaught of sheer power. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was being played on a piano somewhere and the music reverberated into the thunder-less world.

 Rose of Sharon walked down the valley of death in a white dress and matching white sneakers, oblivious to the raging war above her head, she hummed along to the depressing music. The trail she followed was endless in length, but she marched on in order to find the pianist and demand to know the reason for playing such a sad song, a terribly haunting song. One she had heard in all of her dreams.

 Rattle snakes watched her carefully from coiled positions along the side of the path. Their tongues never left their deceitful little mouths, and their eyes were fiery red with hatred. Hundreds of them sat frozen as the woman in white trudged onward. Their eyes never left her. She was terrified of snakes and took note on how they remained human like.

 As she progressed up the dusty trail, she encountered a house that reminded her of her own home back on planet earth. There was a small lawn, white picket fence, and the ominous piano sat on the front yard. Only it was not her home, it was his home. He was sitting with his back towards her playing the song over and over again on his Baby Grand. She had walked hundreds of miles in mere seconds and hadn’t seen any buildings or people. But now she had found him.

As she drew closer to the compound, the man stopped for a moment and straightened his back. This caused her to halt for a moment.

“So young lady, you’ve managed to find me. You have been searching for a long time, haven’t you Rosasharn?” He said in a very deep voice.

“How do you know my name?” She said while walking slowly towards him.

“Oh, you’ll find that I know a lot of things. I know where you were born, where you went to school, how your mother died. Little things like that. But don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone her dirty little secret.” The mysterious being told her. He had yet to face her.

“She had no secrets, she was a saint. What are you talking about? Is that why I have so many nightmares?”     

The creature said nothing but went back to his melody. She began cautiously towards the large instrument.

“Go no further. I have been sick and I don’t want to infect you.”

 Noiseless lightning flashed and flickered. The snakes had begun to slither closer.

 “I want you to tell me why I have these dreams, what does this have to do with my mother? And why do you keep playing that song?” She said and was immediately overtaken with unquenchable fear.

 “…Many people think this song was written because he was extremely sad. I think Beethoven experienced some sort of inexplicable joy and this was the masterpiece that was created in his heart. As to your other questions, your mother is the one haunting you. She knows you have a special gift and is trying to deter you from utilizing it.” He said matter-of-factly.

The young woman stood dumbfounded and quite alone. Things began to move and come alive in the distance. She wanted to wake up but could not find the strength.

“Why are you fearful child?”

“Why won’t you face me?” She said to the back of his head. Her voice began to quiver and her right arm began to feel tight as if some unseen force was squeezing it.

 “I’m very sick, dying actually. Won’t you come in for some tea?”

 She looked up at the house and began to back away. Something was not right, her chest heaved and her knees shook. Rattling grew louder and things began to move in the windowsills.

 “No, I want to go home.” She cried. Her arm began to hurt more and more.

  The creature turned around and she screamed.

 “But darling… you are home.”

 

He let himself into her house, she had given him a key for their anniversary. When he opened the door to her bedroom, she was kicking underneath the covers and moaning softly. He tiptoed into the room and sat on the bed and gently touched her arm in order to wake her up. He knew she was having another nightmare. The doctor told him to do it in a non-aggressive way so she wouldn’t react badly. When she told him about the dreams it broke his heart.  All he could do was sit and wait for her to awake from it. He touched her forehead with a cold rag and rubbed her shivering body. He wished he could take them away so she would be at peace.

“Rosasharn, it’s me love. Wake up baby.” The man bowed his head and prayed for her.


Hello Walter, goodbye Jack

Authors note: I love fiction and have been writing a ton of it lately. For some reason I have been sticking with the romance genre. I hope you guys enjoy this short story of life, memories and lost love. Please feel free to leave some comments. Music to read by: “Claire de Lune” by St. Marks philharmonic Orchestra

The old man hobbled softly towards a bench situated along the mighty Atlantic and took a seat. He held a bag of seeds in his left hand and a rolled up newspaper in the other. This is where he had first met her all those years ago, before cancer took her from his arms. God it must have been fifty, no, sixty years ago if it wasn’t a day. He remembered how she looked on that chilly, February afternoon. Her black hair was tucked into her wool collar and she wore a dark green scarf that accentuated her hazel eyes, her cheeks were rose-red from the bitter sting of winter. It had no effect on her personality because her laugh overpowered the noise of crashing waves and pissed off taxi drivers honking their horns in the background.

He removed a handful of bird food and gently threw it on the concrete sidewalk. The pigeons and crows would come, they always did. Food was scarce this time of year, the flying creatures ate whatever was available. They weren’t picky eaters, they were vultures. But he loved them dearly because no one else did.

He sat down and tried to remember what she had worn that day when she came trotting out of the woods like a lost angel. It was a black skirt, he was sure of it, a black skirt and a grey coat with ruffles on the hem. She was wearing red lipstick and brown buckled shoes. She was holding her school books and heading towards some study group he had long forgotten. She was extremely adamant about doing well in school and in the years to come, she pressed him to further his education. He had no use for school, but because she was the reason his heart beat, he wanted to impress her and in the process, become a better man.

Several pigeons made their way over to the stale pellets and decided hunger was the lesser of the two evils.

“BAH!”  The man shouted and swung a leg to scatter the herd. He laughed gingerly at their purple and silver bodies and tossed more feed on the ground with the hope of enticing other species to come and join the feast. He turned around and looked at the park where he had first encountered her. Two giant oaks to the left, a green cresting hill in the center, two more oaks on the right and the small waterfall cascading down the middle of it all. The town had erected a playground near the park’s entrance some years ago but other than that, not much had changed. She loved feeding the birds and in her memory, he made it a daily habit to befriend them.

He exhaled and a puff of smoke jutted out from his wrinkled jaws. It was cold, colder than he remembered and zippered up his fleece to stay away pneumonia. He laughed at the thought of getting sick because at this moment, and at this time, it mattered not.

His life had grown short and he had come up north to visit this special place one last time. He closed his eyes and pictured his darling in his mind. How precious she was to his heart, how beautiful and sweet and unforgettable. The woman had changed his life, gave him meaning and something to take care of. He cared little about himself and could have lived a bachelor’s life. But when he met her and saw the twinkle in her eye, he knew without a shadow of a doubt, this was a once in a lifetime happenstance. Oh how he loved her!

“Hello Jack.”

Jack bowed his head and sighed.

“Hello Walter.”

“What are you doing up here? You promised me you would stay put. What am I going to do with you?” The man with the devious smile questioned him without any emotion whatsoever.

Jack ignored him. He looked back towards the oak trees and tried hard to remember which one they had carved their names into. They were foolish romantics when they were young, and did silly things kids do when they first fall in love.

“Just wanted to get away for a few days, visit the old neighborhood. See some old sights.”

The invisible man sitting next to Jack reached down and grabbed a seed from the ground and popped it into his mouth. The thing pretended to enjoy it and rubbed its’ belly in mock fulfillment.

“I see you’ve chosen the cheap brand this time. I enjoyed the breadcrumbs you wasted last week. Have anymore?”

Jack remained silent as he pictured her ice skating for the very first time. It was their first date and they both had fallen more than once.

“I didn’t come here to feed you Walter. The birds need food this time of year, it’s cold and they have nothing else to eat. Giving food to hungry birds isn’t a waste. But then again you wouldn’t know about compassion, would you?”

Walter tilted his head skyward and chuckled. He was wearing a short sleeve shirt and dark jeans this time. A pair of sunglasses sat tilted on the bridge of his nose and a devilish smile formed on his whiskered face.

“Nonsense Jack, compassion is another flaw in the human species I will never understand. It’s a waste of time and effort and when it’s all said and done, you are deeper into poverty than you were at the start! And all in the name of helping someone else! Come off it old man, there is no room in this world for the likes of you.” Walter said matter-of-factly as he picked at his fingernails.

Jack thought about the day he purchased the ring and asked her to marry him. It was a happy day, a glorious day. She’d put it on her finger with tears streaming down her cheeks, and with quivering lips agreed to become his wife.

“Walter, if it’s all the same to you, can you just shut the fuck up and get on with it? I’ve been listening to your crap for the last seven years and to be perfectly honest, I’m tired of it. I want to see her.” The old man said with little anger and much hope. Her face was becoming much clearer now.

Walter glared towards his prey and took off his glasses, its’ eyes were pitch black with rage.

“So be it.” With one finger, Walter touched Jack on the neck and the lonely old man began to fade into eternity. Seeds fell to the ground and the pigeons began to fill their stomachs.


Of broken things.

Photography by Gabriel circa 2011

               Authors note: Hello my fellow bloggers and word-nerds, this short romantic fiction piece was something of a whim. I loved writing it and I hope you enjoy reading it. It may be the start of a new book and so please leave some feedback. This is my 50th posting on the Papparaci, thank you for reading my work and making me feel like a writer.          

He wondered about the broken things. Feeling like something shattered in her heart, he contemplated on how to fix it, and, if she wanted them repaired by the person who caused the damage in the first place.  The man realized the situation for what it was, he ‘d wished nothing but happiness for her, yet felt he had done something to cause her to back away. To slowly retreat back into obscurity, leaving questions unanswered. He hoped it wasn’t something he said in passing. He prayed it wasn’t because the emotions he left dangling on his sleeves.

Remembering how it was on the beach, with seagulls soaring and tumultuous waves crashing along the warm Long Island Sound, he thought back to those days and the ones that followed. How happy this short, caring man was in the months which followed. With every sunrise, hope arose too. With every closing of the day, peace lifted him out of the haze of solitude. Yes, it’s safe to say that in those days, he had reached a great summit and had found happiness in her company. He was reluctant to release these feelings of euphoria to any other but himself. Not that he was a selfish man, but finding comfort in someone so wonderful, so near to his own heart, well, it was a hard cross to bear.

They had spoken less and less in the coming weeks. Much to his discontent, he understood the reasons. At least he thought he did. Certain facts could not go unnoticed, how would a beaked nose, old soul compete with such a person? With nothing to offer but love and companionship, he stood gallantly with his hands in his pockets and tried not to weep.

He had done plenty of that in front of her and this caused him no small amount of shame and embarrassment. He couldn’t seem to help it though. Whenever she was in his presence, his whole body reacted in odd ways. He was normally an introverted, quiet man who said little about himself and usually found it hard to fit in with crowds. No one really knew the things this man had endured; his sensitivity was not a sign of weakness, but rather a testament to the inner strength that kept him going day by day. He wasn’t afraid to show her raw emotions. He felt the world lacked true love and to be able to show it to someone was life’s greatest gift. Besides, they were mostly happy tears, mixed and mingled with a touch of melancholy.

But it was different with her. Friendship had blossomed and seeds of something much grander were planted in his heart. Joy, peace and wholeness seemed to wash over his abandoned soul making him a king in some obscure way. He knew deep down that these feelings may not be reciprocated, but took a chance. For a time they were, there was laughter and jokes, stories and romance. They shared dinner and coffee and in some way, mended one another. He wanted to tell her these things, but was afraid she would misunderstand.

How agonizingly happy he was for her, how thankful and appreciative he was because of the kindness she had showed him. She had been his best friend for a time, but like many other good things, it couldn’t last. He wanted to express himself but didn’t know how. Thinking of the way her hair danced in the wind and the way her eyes told many stories, he put something down on paper. Maybe, just maybe, she might read it and feel comforted knowing there was somebody who thought the world of her.