Straight From The Horses Mouth

The Riley County Ladies Reading Circle met every Tuesday night at Lois’ house, mainly because she had the largest parlor in the county, and made mighty fine fresh sourdough bread on Tuesday mornings. The meetings were more talking than reading, and tonight’s tattling stirred up old stories of poor old Fannie Hooe, who disappeared near here.

“I heard she went out west and a buffalo killed her,” Evelyn said.

“Oh, fiddlesticks,” Lois said. “Everyone knows she drowned in the river.”

“I reckon she just stayed, opened a boarding house, and got married,” Frances said.

Everyone laughed, shaking their head.

This 99-words story was written for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge


Beware Of Laundromats And Freaky Little Men


“Hey, Baby,” a creepy, little man in a light-brown trench coat with large, tan hat that covered his face said.

April stared, giving the ‘get away from me freak!’ look. He didn’t get it. April sighed. This is exactly why she didn’t like doing her laundry on a Thursday afternoon. All the desperate freaks were out in full force. She returned to sorting her laundry into three different washing machines.

Most people did lights, darks, and colors, but April liked her system of socks, shirts and unmentionables, and pants, because it meant that everything got rinsed and they dried faster too.

The man’s hat covered her sock washer as he peered in. “Excuse you!” April said as her face contorted with disgust.

“Nice socks,” the man said, drooling. He licked his lips and made smacking noises as if he was gnawing on gum, but his mouth was empty…hopefully.

April continued putting in her laundry, keeping an eye on the little freak who was now not even trying to hide his drool. He stood there, wringing his hands, licking his chops. She considered calling the police, but aside from being a freak, he hadn’t paid any attention to her since he spotted her socks. Probably a freshman from the college down the street with a foot fetish and doesn’t want to get caught on campus.

Thirty minutes passed without a sound from the man until the sock washer buzzed. He ran there first, opened the lid, and started drooling even more over the clean socks. April put the other two loads into their dryers and walked back to the sock washer where he was now leaning over the machine with his shoes dangling off the ground. Definitely too short for a college kid, freshman or not. April walked over behind him and cleared her throat. He backed up and let her take out the socks.

For the next hour, he sat in front of the sock dryer on the ground watching them spin this way and that way, and rise to the top only to flop to the bottom midway across. He reminded April of a little kid watching Saturday morning cartoons. Just like with the washers, once the buzzer went off on the sock dryer, he jumped up and opened the door before April could even get out of her seat.

Then the weirdest thing happened…he threw off his hat and coat and looked just like Gollum, saying, “My precious!” as he started grabbing the socks and stuffing them in his mouth.

“Hey!” April yelled. “Those are my socks! Stop it!”

His eyes grew large, and he started snarling. “You want my socks? You stole them from me, and now you want my socks again? I just found them.”

“Um…they’re my socks. I bought some of them last week, Dude. Now, put them down and leave or I will call the police.”

“No! My socks! My precious children!”

“You need help!”

Before April could pull her cell phone out of her pants pocket, he lunged at her, sending her flying into an open dryer. She hit her head on the way in and lay in the drum unconscious.

Sounds of people chattering and laughing woke her up. Hours must have passed because the place was now packed with people. People all staring and laughing at her. Startled, scared, embarrassed, and confused, April grabbed her clothes and ran out of laundromat. On her way out, she heard a sea of words including, drunk, crazy, loony, high, and addict.  She was none of the above, but she didn’t want to argue. This was the first time and last time she used this place! She threw everything into her car and as she sat in the driver’s seat she noticed the name of the place for the first time. Gollum’s Laundromat. There was also a handwritten sign under it that read, “Wash or dry socks at your own risk. Management is not responsible for loss of socks, limbs, or life.”

This was written for the Worth A Thousand Words # 3 daily photo prompt.

Flood Of Advice

Tony always wanted to be a writer, but like so many others with that dream, he came the long way around. After a twenty-year career in business and raising three soon-to-be college graduates — okay, helping raise — okay, fine, supporting Ashley who raised three soon-to-be college graduates, he was ready to make to leap into writing. It can’t be as difficult as managing a multi-billion dollar company, can it?

He did what he had always done when he had a new project…he cleaned his study and organized. Now that he was retired, this task was simple. His study was already empty. Devoid of any life in it. Ashley used to comment how empty the house was when the kids left home, but Tony never really understood her new found interest in thrift stores, antique auctions, and craft fairs until just then. Without a purpose, the house was an empty shell. Ashley found her new purpose, and so did Tony.

He looked at his empty study and sighed. It was too empty. “Think of it as a new business venture,” he told himself. Tony stood in the doorway, took a deep breath and nodded. “Yep, that’s what I’ll do. First thing I would do in a new venture is learn everything about the market.”

It was a fifteen-minute drive to the local bookstore where Tony found an entire section on writing and editing. It never occurred to him that there were so many books written about writing. It seemed like such an easy concept. Think–write–edit–publish–get paid. Easy. “There must be close to a thousand books here,” he muttered to himself. “Right. Best of the best are probably those ones on stands by themselves, right?”

Flashbacks of clothes shopping and accompanying Ashley to the grocery store on one, and only one, occasion flashed through his mind. He shivered. With a shrug of his shoulders, he picked up all sixty-two books in the section that were on focus stands. The clerk looked shocked when he brought up stack after stack of books. She knew better than to ask though, as her manager said to never really think about what the customers are buying. That was exceptionally good advice when it came to the adult section.

Even though it was only a thirty-minute round trip, nearly four hours had passed before Tony got home. It took him six trips from the garage to his study at the top of the stairs on the third floor to deliver all his reference materials. He was tired after all that, grabbed the top book and retired to the couch downstairs to wait for Ashley to get home from another auction.

“The Art of Writing,” he read, sitting his drink on a coaster and settling in on the couch. “Sounds just like one of my old business books. This will be easier than I thought.”

The introduction was very professional and made Tony feel like the author was an authority on writing, which increased his immediate liking of the book. “Step 1,” Tony read aloud. “Take notes.”

“Oh, yeah, that makes sense.”

Tony went back upstairs to his study and found a blank notepad and a pen, then returned downstairs. He knew how to take notes. Can’t survive in business without knowing how to take notes. After completing the first chapter, the notepad was full of notes. He rubbed his achy hand and stretched his aching back. “Step 2, read as much as you can. One cannot be a writer if they are not a reader.”

Tony sighed and started flipping though the book. This was exactly like his business books. Still, the notes he had from step 1 was good, right? Tony liked to read, but as much as he could? He liked to do things other than read. Why does someone need to read, if they are trying to be a writer? Doesn’t that seem defeating? What if you had a great idea, but then read someone else’s book that had a similar idea? Would you still write yours? It seemed too much like business. He enjoyed business, but was happily retired so he wouldn’t have to think about market share and business models anymore.

He took the first book upstairs and was more selective this time. He flipped through the stacks of books until he came to Write a Novel in a Weekend. What? Now that sounded like a book he needed. He returned downstairs, fixed a new drink, and started reading. “Chapter 1: Character Development.” Tony grew excited. Finally a book on writing that actually discussed writing. He began reading and everything made sense. Know your characters. The more you know the faster you can write. Then came the worksheet. “Complete a worksheet for each character,” Tony read aloud, then sighed.

Back upstairs to his study for more paper, then back down to the couch. He did as the book suggested and wrote the character’s full name, age, height, hair color, eye color, hair style, weight, physical characteristics, earring/tattoos, sex, gender, preferred pronoun, where they went to school, favorite food, favorite movie, favorite tv show, favorite book, manner of speech, hopes, dreams, fears, shoe size, clothing style… The list went on and on, so much so that Tony gave up when his notepad was filled with answers for just one character.

Back upstairs to his study with that book. He dug through again, and found one on flash fiction. He read the back cover and flipped through the pages. Nice short book. This time, he was smart, and took down a fresh notepad. The book turned out to be just like all the others. Filled with opinions, recommendations, and more forms and outlines to fill in all before the writer even starts writing.

It took six trips up the stairs and down the stairs to the garage to put all the books in there in case any of his kids wanted them. While in the garage, he found an old fishing rod that he inherited from his father and took it up to his study. He sat in his comfy office chair and opened his laptop. He opened tab after tab of fly fishing techniques and ties. He breathed a sigh of relief. “Finally, people who know how to really give advice.”

Ashley returned home well after dark and was surprised to see Tony still at his computer. “That must be a good story you’re writing.”

Tony looked at his wife and thought about all the books in the garage, and shuddered. “I’m going to be a fly fisherman instead.”

“Why is that?”

“It’s too much work being a writer. Everyone giving advice on what to do, what not to do, how to do it, and how not to do it, that nobody seems to actually do any writing unless you ignore all the advice and just get on with it.”

He shook his head, while Ashley laughed. He could still her laughing all the way down the stairs and into the kitchen.

Studio 54, Where Are You?

Every kid on the block sat on their stoops as the street lights came on watching people get in their cars all dressed up heading to the hottest nightclub in the city. Eddie and I turned on our radio and listened to disco music. We’d jump up and start dancing like we were in the city with all the famous and fabulous at Studio 54. We were going to go straight down there and ask Steve for a job as soon as we could pass for eighteen. Night after night we’d dance like we were right there with them. That was until the first report of drug use at the Studio hit the papers. Our parents had had enough with the city. Our dreams were shattered. Life out on Grandma and Grandpa Davis’ farm was slow, boring, and too quiet. Now the only music we have at night are June bugs slamming into the barn and cicadas trying to play the melody. Still, it could be worse. At least out here in the sticks, we are gods because we can dance.

This short was inspired by the Three Things Challenge prompts: disco, boy, june bug