Speakeasy #141: Wishes and Promises

Tracy revved the engine of her Softail, weaving around cars to shake the double cherries chasing her. “Wheeeee!” came from the small passenger holding her waist.

Lips peeled back in a grim smile. Surprised faces whipped past, traffic not so heavy she couldn’t maneuver, but heavy enough to slow the cops.

Not far ahead, a Lexus swerved, cutting off a semi hauling a large tank. Brakes squealed as the rig cut sharply across the lanes. Her eyes widened. “Hang on!”

She threw the bike in a skid, ducking her head to squeeze under the tanker truck. She hit the throttle, and the world went wobbly before finally straightening. “Holy…I thought that only worked in movies!”

“Can we do it again?”

“NO!”

“Awww!”

Tracy chuckled as she pulled off the interstate to get lost among the myriad routes to their destination.

***

“Here.” Tracy handed Cynthia a bowl of stew. “You need to eat.”

Cynthia pouted, but took the bowl. “Do you think we’ll make it?”

Tracy groaned as she spooned a mouthful of meat. “We’ll make it, kid. I promised, didn’t I?” She sighed as Cynthia just picked at her food. “If you’re not going to eat, then get some sleep; you need your strength.” She unrolled a sleeping bag and lay it close to the fire.

Cynthia crawled in and closed her eyes. Tracy took two more bites of stew before, “Mommy and Daddy will be there, won’t they?”

Tracy smiled. “I’ll make sure of it. Sleep.”

***

A rumble of motorcycle engines to put Sturgis to shame woke her. She bolted up, and shook Cynthia awake, holding a finger to her lips. They padded over to her Softail, and she pushed it out of their hiding spot.

“Hey!” A large, bearded man with arms sleeved in tattoos sitting astride a Road King, roared up next to them. “You the ones on the news?”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about.” Tracy glanced down at the helmet on the back of the bike, ready to use it as a weapon.

Pearly whites flashed through the chin-foliage. “Don’t worry! Me and the boys heard about what you’re doing. We called a few friends, who called a few friends…you know how it goes.” He stuck out a meaty paw. “Name’s Dan The Dentist, cause that’s what I do for a living. We’re here to help.”

Tracy looked at Cynthia, who smiled and said, “God bless us, every one.”

She rolled her eyes, but met Dan’s hand with her own.

***

With the camouflage of hundreds of bikes, the trip moved along at a good clip. Cynthia took turns riding among the various sidecars, ducking down when the police neared. If any patrols decided to follow, a group of bikers, some with their own daughters riding side, broke off and lured them away.

Within hours the group caught sight of their destination: the Mendocino Cliffs overlooking the Pacific. Tracy pulled out her cell and made a call. A cloud of dust rose as the ride grumbled to an end.

Tracy strode over to the bike holding Cynthia. The little girl looked pale, her breath coming in gasps. “We’re here?”

“Yeah, baby. We’re here.” Tracy gathered the frail girl in her arms and carried her to the edge of the cliff, assorted bikers standing back in a respectful wall of leather and jeans.

She sat tailor-style, Cynthia cradled in her lap. She only had to wait an hour before she heard the helicopter land, spotlighted by the bright purples, reds, and oranges of the setting sun.

Police cars, sirens blaring, raced up. A distraught man and woman, grief etched on their faces, ran to their daughter. The bikers parted to let them pass, closing ranks to hold the officers back.

Tracy stood, holding the rapidly fading Cynthia out for her mother to hold. “She doesn’t have much time left. Her last wish was for the three of you to be here at the end.” She leaned in and whispered to the mother. “I don’t care if you stay together or not, but you lie to this little girl, if you have to.”

Tracy stood back a few feet, giving them privacy. When the mother’s head bowed and her tears fell on unfeeling cheeks, she turned and nodded to the awaiting bikers and police. Sirens shut off and the rumble of hundreds of bikes starting paid homage to one little girl with a dream.

There was nothing left for her to do but walk away.

Word Count : 750

             

For Speakeasy #141. The prompts: Reference the above clip in some way. Use “There was nothing left for her to do but walk away” as your last line. The challenge: Use 750 words or less to tell your story or poem.

My sincerest hopes that all my readers have a very happy Holiday season. Thank you for reading my works and your wonderful feedback! Fair winds and following seas.

Head over to Speakeasy and read some terrific writers. I am never disappointed when I make my through the entries every week.

Hope you enjoy.

And I hope you find Peace.

J. Milburn

Prompt 35 – Holiday Stories: Graduation

Great Lakes Naval Training Center

Holiday stories? I thought about passing this one by as I’m not one for reminiscing too much. Top it off with a decided lack of stand-out memories (aside from those I’d like to forget), and I almost decided not to participate this week. But there is one memory that stands out, and I’m going to put it down.

By the way, if I suddenly stop posting…forever, it’s because my wife has, for some reason, started reading my blog and has straight-up murdered me for this 😉

As you might guess from the photo, I was in the Navy and this story has to do with my time at boot camp. I left home, freshly married for a month and a couple of weeks before my birthday, for Great Lakes in Chicago. I was fortunate enough to be placed in a 900 division, which includes the band, choir, and color guard. Fortunately, I didn’t make the color guard, although at the time it felt like a loss.

There is nothing like watching shipmates come in showered with sweat and utterly exhausted while we’ve been chilling in the barracks to change one’s mind.

The month’s passed quickly, although I’m sure I didn’t think that way at the time. Marching, classes, PT, bunk drills, watches (hint: have crappy handwriting so you don’t get stuck with it all the time), team-building, and the random punishment push-ups filled up the days.

Thanksgiving came, and our class just made the cut-off for being “adopted” by a local family for the day. The information came a little late to do me any damn good, but some people managed to find locals to take them in, and good for them. I wasn’t quite ready to break routine yet.

We finished our training with an all-nighter, the kind where you have about 5 minutes to dress in all your gear and they come and chivvy you off to different obstacles based on all you’ve learned. Gas masks suck when you have glasses, by the by.

We finished a few days before Christmas, and we learned that we weren’t being released until after the holiday. So we watch some movies. First and only time I’ve ever seen Reservoir Dogs. I know there are Tarantino fans out there, but I’ve never been able to get into his work; however, that is the only movie I remember from that time, so there’s that.

Christmas Eve we get the news: If we make the plans, we can be “adopted” and go off-base. A mad scramble ensues, and I march off with phone-card in hand. I call home and tell my parents they can come up to take me off-base. My parents (who are great) and my wife (also great. Love you, sweetie!) drive all night and get me Christmas morning.

We hit Chicago for supper and head back to the hotel room. One room, two beds. My folks are exhausted and fall asleep. My wife and I, being young and having missed each other, do what couples do, because my parents are heavy sleepers and we’re extra-quiet.

I return to base the next day, and graduate two days later having had a great Christmas.

Those proceeding sentences probably lay out the road-map for where I’m going.

Several years later, we’re sitting around a fire in my parents backyard, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows for S’mores. The subject comes up about that Christmas.

“You know, I wasn’t actually asleep, and I heard everything,” my Dad says.

My wife turns beet-red. “Oh my God, you heard us?”

“Yup.”

Somewhere along the line in my Naval service, my give-a-damn for those sorts of things broke and I’ve never bothered to fix it, so I just laugh. “Thanks for not turning around then, Pops.”

So there you have it. My long explanation just to tell you I unknowingly had sex in front of a live studio audience comprised of my Dad. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to disable the Publicize settings so this doesn’t show up on Facebook for the rest of my family (including my wife) to see 😀

For MindLovesMisery’s Prompt 35 – Holiday Stories.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

 

 

 

Sunday Photo Fiction: Merry Christmas

39 12 December 22nd 2013

I sigh as I check the lights for the umpteenth time. Donna’s humming carols while making Christmas cookies. Our five-year-old, Bonnie, drinks her fourth glass of chocolate milk. She’s so proud she can make it herself, neither of us can tell her no. “You’re going to pee chocolate milk,” her mother tells her.

A devilish grin crosses Bonnie’s face and she bolts upstairs. “Awww! It’s not choc’late milk, Mommy! You’re a wiar!” Donna giggles at our imp’s disappointed outrage that she’s not, in fact, a fountain for chocolaty deliciousness.

The damned lights click on and two of the tiny bulbs highlight an old golden ornament. “This is a magic looking ball, Stevie. Whenever the light shines just right, you’ll be able to see me no matter where we are,” my mother’s half-remembered voice tells me.

My lips tug downward at the thought of her gone, these past twenty-five Christmases. My fingers reach out and caress the sunny sheen. It clouds, reflection changing to a tiny me being lifted and twirled by a smiling red-head.

The image disappears and tears fall. “Bonnie, come here.” My little moppet snuggles close to me, confused. I smile, pointing. “This is a magic looking ball…”

***

Word Count: 200

Sunday Photo Fiction

For Sunday Photo Fiction. By the way, the part with the chocolate milk? Yeah, that happened. Just switch the genders on the child. It was just so cute I couldn’t resist putting it in 🙂

Hope you enjoy. Head on over to Sunday Photo Fiction and read some great writers’ takes on the photo above! If it strikes a chord within, feel free to join the fun! Happy Holidays and New Year to everyone!

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

 

Today’s Author – Write Now!: Familiar

Andrea huddled under the domed roof of the passenger shelter, failing to ignore the twin annoyances of misspelled graffiti and rain spattering on her legs. Stupid weatherman…twenty percent chance, my tuches. She wrapped her arms around her body, attempting in vain to keep out the cold breeze that whistled through a broken window.

An older gentleman sat on the bench, beard peeking out from behind a scarf as he devoured the latest novel featuring a long-haired bohunk and fainting maiden on the cover. An African-American woman in a business suit stood on the opposite side of the enclosure, ear buried into her cell while engaged in futile efforts to keep her six-year old from splashing in the rapidly growing puddles. Andrea avoided making eye contact with her fellow waitees, and they returned the favor.

She dared to let the hand closing her collar release so she could check her watch. The wind chose that moment to lustily gust, and she felt droplets of water running down her collar and into her cleavage. Idiot bus driver! He should have been here fifteen minutes ago!

An oncoming rumble and the sound of tires sluicing through mini-ponds along the sidewalk announced salvation. She stepped behind the old man, not quite under his umbrella, but close enough she could shield herself somewhat. Blue smoke belched as the bus rolled to a stop, familiar squeaks of the door extending the invitation inside. Andrea eagerly RSVP’d, as she hurried up the entrance steps.

“Sorry, folks. New to this route and got a little behind.” The bus driver looked familiar, but she couldn’t figure out how she knew him. Andrea shrugged off the nagging feeling as she searched for a seat. She frowned when she realized the only one left was directly behind and to the right of the driver.

“Sit down, lady, so we can go already,” some punk with a green mohawk and too much metal in his face spouted off. Andrea flushed red and eased onto the bench-seat. The bus jolted as it took off, and she dug into her purse for some tissues. She opened up her coat, sank her hand beneath her collar, and wiped the water from her chest.

The back of her neck prickled and she looked up to see the bus driver’s eyes on her in the mirror above his head. “Hey!” she snapped. “How about you keep your eyes on the road?”

The driver jerked his eyes down, and the nagging feeling she knew him returned, crawling up her spine. He just has one of those faces, Andrea. Keep it together.

She turned her thoughts to her baby, Sean. Six-years-old, he lifted her spirits every time she picked him up from daycare and he ran to her, arms wide, yelling, “Mommy!”

Conversely, it broke her heart every time she took him out and he would see other kids with both parents. “Mommy, where’s my Daddy?”

When those questions came, she wished she had a tale-teller’s talent for lies dressed as truth. How can I tell him he came from a one-night stand and a broken condom? I can’t, and I won’t. Ever.

The call of “Fourth Street” slapped her from her musing. She glanced at the bus driver one last time before scurrying off the bus. She strode quickly to the daycare center and signed in at the desk. “Mommy!” A small whirlwind of legs and arms wrapped around her waist.

“Baby!” She lifted him up to give him a hello kiss. The bus driver’s eyes stared back at her, and she gasped. “Honey, wait right here. Mommy forgot something on the bus!” She clasped her hands, silently pleading with the provider waiting to the side, as she backed toward the door. The daycare employee smiled. “It happens to everyone. Go on. I’ll watch him.”

Andrea bolted out the door, rain pelting her face, and ran down the sidewalk. If I hurry, I can catch him at the next stop. She skip-hopped as she pulled off her heels, then raced on at full speed.

The back of the bus filled her vision, and she saw the tell-tale smoke of it beginning to leave. She waved her arms frantically in the air. “Wait! Wait!”

The bus paused and the door opened. She reached the door and fell against it, using it to prop her up. “Sev-huff, huff-en years, huff, huff…son. Andrea.” She looked up the driver, eyes begging his understanding.

“I’m sorry, miss. I’ve never seen you before in my life.”

Andrea straightened as she regained her breath. “NYC, seven years ago. We slept together and I got pregnant. I never found you after that night. We have a son.”

Sadness and pain filled the driver’s eyes. “I have a nephew?”

Andrea opened her mouth, but words failed her as they so often did. The driver understood anyway. “You must be thinking of my younger brother, Michael. He went to NYC at that time, and everyone says we look so much alike we may as well be twins.”

Andrea eagerly leaned farther into the doorway. “Where is he?”

A tear rolled down the driver’s cheek. “He died from a drunk driver two years ago.”

Andrea stumbled backward at the news. Dizziness swept over her and her knees buckled. Callused hands grabbed her, gently lowering her to the ground. She stared at the now familiar eyes. “I’d like to meet my nephew, if you approve. I’d like to tell him about his father.”

She smiled and leaned her head against his now rain-soaked shoulder. “I think we’d both like that.”

***

For Today’s Author Write Now prompt. The prompt:

The bus driver looked familiar, but she couldn’t figure out how she knew him.

Head on over to Today’s Author and join in the fun!

The “rules”:

How to play along with our Writing Prompts

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Important Note: When you post a draft of your work online, it may be difficult to find a publisher who will accept it, as many see an online document as being previously published. It may also be ineligible to be submitted for certain writing competitions. Always check publisher’s and competition guidelines before using a draft you put online.

Hope you enjoy.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

Flash! Friday-Vol. 2 – 1: Remembrance

Sandy Straits Fisherman, ca 1920. Australian publid domain image.

Sandy Straits Fisherman, ca 1920. Australian public domain image.

The old cardboard broke, sending dusty, cracked books tumbling on Beth’s foot. “Ow!” She tossed the box remnants to the side, hop-twirling up and down, lip bit to capture the curses that threatened to spill.

The sharp pain dulled to an ache, and she glared down at the offending object. An old photo album lay open, revealing a black and white picture of her and her father on a fishing trip long ago. Her eyes softened as she gathered the forgotten memories in her hands.

“Honey? You okay up there?” her husband, Cliff, called.

Beth climbed down from the attic, displaying her found treasure. “I think we should take Layla and visit Dad.”

Cliff pursed his lips. “Do you think he’ll know any of us?”

A soft chuckle of sadness escaped. “No…but he’s my Dad. It doesn’t matter if he knows because will.”

Word Count: 152

This is my first attempt for Flash! Friday-Vol 2 – 1. The rules:

Now let’s get to today’s contest!

Word limit150 word story (10- word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

How: Post your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Sunday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name inscribed on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word unless that is specified):

FFPendantLaughterSH

Head on over and check it out! The stories are all in the comments, so no extra clicking required. Make one of your own and join in (but hurry, the time expires at 11:59 Washington, D. C. time)!

Hope you enjoy.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn