Speakeasy #146: Words Last

“My perspicacious perspective apprises me of your disapprobation at my dialectical preferences, Lacey.”

I sigh and glare at Shane. He looks exactly like you’d expect someone who said the previous sentence would: bowl-cut brown hair, thick rubber glasses complete with tape around the bridge, and a pocket protector with enough pens to outfit the proverbial infinite monkeys with enough writing implements to create Shakespeare.

“Huh?” I reply. They say brevity is the soul of wit.

They suck ’cause I don’t feel witty at all.

The stereotype displays the shit-eating grin that makes me wonder why I don’t let the wind from a soft whistle blow his ass down the block. “Are you cognizant of the intelligence that ‘huh’ prevails within virtually all the terrene vocabularies?”

“If you don’t want a girl to beat you up then I suggest you talk like a normal person.” I’m counting the blocks until we reach our street. We’re neighbors, and our moms are besties for life. I’ve let my mom know in no uncertain terms that she’ll disappear if certain photos of me and Shane taking a bath together as toddlers should ever surface.

“Pugilistic inclinations aside, shall you and the matriarch of your clan deign to grace us with your effervescent quintessence?”

Five, four, three, two, aaaannnd here comes the inhaler. Thorn Street, three blocks from school and two blocks until home. He’s like clockwork. A sad, wheezing clock that sounds like it’s on its last legs, but still he manages to sound cuckoo. “I have too much homework to come over tonight. Or any other night.”

Shane studies his shoes. He mutters something I think sounds like, “Don’t be like that, Lace.” For all I know it could have been, “Shut your stupid face.”

I honestly hope it’s the second one, but history leans toward the first. I remember him being more fun when we were younger. We’d play soccer, baseball, hide and seek, and bake mud-pies in pretend ovens.

Then his dickhead sperm-donor took off when we were in second grade, and Shane changed. I’d come over and he’d be buried in books. Comic, paperback, old, new, thesauruses, it didn’t matter. I should feel bad for him, but it’s been years.

He really needs to move on.

“Don’t pout, Shane. It demeans us both.” A red Camaro cruises past, and I wave at the driver, Allen Tomas. He glances at me. He glances at Shane. Then he bursts out laughing and zooms off.

My face burns with embarrassment.

My pace quickens, and Shane scurries after me. I can feel him pushing those ridiculous glasses up as sweat starts to slick his nose.

I break into a run, tired of his pathetic hanging around my neck. His gasps follow me, and he manages to make it to the front of my house without collapsing. “Well, that invigorating constitutional-“

“Shut-UP! God! Do you even know what you sound like? Why do you have to talk like that?” The words tumble out, and I try to grab them. The bastards slip through my fingers. “Do you know why nobody likes you? It’s because you sound like an asshole who thinks big words make him a big person.”

“No wonder your dad left.”

Oh, Jesus. Did I really just say that? I couldn’t get the hurt in his eyes from that one statement if I slapped him a thousand times while burning his books.

“Remember when he left?” His voice, empty of anything Shane, lashes me.

“I’m so sorry-” His lips press so hard they turn white. “When we got our mid-term report cards.”

“I was failing English.” His fists ball. “My…Dad saw my grade, and I saw the disappointment in his eyes. He muttered something about wishing I was smarter.”

“He left that night.”

God, please…make this stop. Send me to Hell, and I’ll go with a smile if you just make him forget my stupidity.

He keeps looking at me with those betrayed eyes. “I thought he left because I wasn’t smart enough.” He trudges past me and I can only watch. “I always hoped if I became smart enough, he might come back. Stupid, I know. But still…”

I manage to break free of my idiot’s paralysis. “I’m sorry, Shane! Listen, come over. We’ll do whatever you want. Please!”

He doesn’t say a word as he goes inside. “Goddamn his dad…”

I slump down on my steps. “…and Goddamn me too.”

I sat there and waited, but he never came back.

Word Count: 750

Speakeasy #146. The prompts: “I sat there and waited, but he never came back.” To be used as the last line. There is also a video prompt:

The rules:

  • Your post must be dated January 26, 2013, or later.
  • Submissions must be 750 words or fewer.
  • Submissions must be fiction or poetry.
  • Your piece must include the following sentence as the LAST line: “I sat there and waited, but he never came back.
  • The Speakeasy is for submissions written specifically for the grid. Please don’t submit an entry if you intend to showcase it to another blog link-up. Such posts are deleted without notice, there’s no refund for your ticket.
  • Please don’t post long explanations before your post. We want your writing to be the star of the show. If you need to clarify anything, feel free to do so at the end.
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Today’s Author Write Now!: Wounds

Karen frowned as she entered the living room. “Hey! Why is the door wide open?” She slammed it closed, latched the chain lock, and punched in the code to arm the security system.

Nathan, her teenage son, thumped down the stairs in his quest for the kitchen and food. “Sorry, Mom. Must have forgot after Billy left.”

She drew in a deep breath to repeat a lecture she had given both her children numerous times. Nathan recognized the “look” and redirected her attention. “A letter came for you today; it’s from some attorney’s office.”

Karen exhaled with a sputter. “Where?”

Nathan bolted for safety, tossing off, “It’s on the coffee table” over his shoulder.

She pursed her lips at her son’s nonchalance as she tossed the keys into a basket on the stand by the doorway. She strode over to the coffee table and flipped through the stack. Insurance, bill, bill, therapist, bill…ah. The return address read Jackson & Taylor Law Offices. She ripped open the envelope and scanned the letter.

Her heart paused as disbelief and anger swelled in her chest. “That son of a bitch!”

Nathan popped his head out of the kitchen. “What’s wrong, Ma?”

“Nothing!” The paper crumpled in her fist and Nathan retreated back into the kitchen, muttering under his breath. Karen ignored her confused boy and dug into purse for the cell. Wallet, mace, and safety whistle flew around the room before her fingers found what she searched for. She jerked it out of her purse and hit the number for her therapist.

Her stomps marked the trail she took around the room as she paced, waiting for someone to pick up. “Dr. Brannigan’s office. How may-?”

“I need to talk to Dr. Brannigan now! It’s Karen Tompkins.”

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Tompkins. He’s in a session righ-”

“I don’t care!” Her adrenaline crashed and anger wormed into desperation. “Please. Tell him…” She collapsed onto the brand new sofa. “Tell him it’s an emergency. Please…I don’t know what to do.”

“Hang on, Mrs. Tompkins,” the nurse said in a softer voice. “I’ll go get him.”

“Thank you.” Karen wiped her eyes and noticed where she sat. She scrambled off the sofa and into her easy-chair, breath heaving.

“Karen?”

Karen closed her eyes in relief at the sound of Dr. Brannigan’s voice. “He’s…he’s suing me! The bastard is suing me!”

“Hang on. Who is suing you?”

She slapped the leather arm of her chair in frustration. “Him! The man who broke in and…and…killed James. He’s suing me because James wounded him in the fight and he’s claiming ’emotional distress.'” A bitter laugh barked out. “Ha! Do you believe that? He’s in ’emotional distress.'”

Dr. Brannigan’s soothing baritone vibrated in her ear as he spoke. “Karen, he doesn’t have a case. Nobody in their right mind would give him anything.”

“I still have to go to court, get a lawyer, and all it takes in some con-man with a law degree to convince twelve idiots not smart enough to-”

“Karen. Stop.”

“I don’t have the money…and the kids…did I tell you I can’t even sit on the new couch because it reminds me of where he died? I can’t go through this…the kids can’t go through this again.”

The doctor sighed. “I know, Karen. I know.” His voice lowered and took on furtive tone. “Listen, I may be able to help. You meet some…interesting people in my line of work. Normally, I wouldn’t do this, but…”

Karen strained to hear the words she had longed for for some time. “‘But’ what, Lyle?”

“Nothing.” His voice became crisp and businesslike once again. “I…I’ll help you out, Karen. Don’t worry about anything.”

Dr. Brannigan ended the call, and Karen clutched the phone to her chest, old wounds ripped open and seeping into her soul. Hatred for the man who shattered her life warred with guilt over falling in love again, swirling in combat to create an aching vortex of confusion.

“Mom?” Nathan knelt beside her and wrapped his arms around her shoulders.

She patted his arm and forced a smile. “It’s okay, baby. I’ll be okay.”

“What was that letter?”

She glanced at the crumpled mess in her hand and tossed it into a wastebasket. “Nothing. Just something stupid. Dr. Brannigan said he’ll take of it.”

Her forced smile became real at the thought.

For Today’s Author – Write Now! Prompt: A letter came for you today; it’s from some attorney’s office.

Twice a week they have a sentence prompt and encourage you to write for at least five minutes on whatever comes to mind. Head over to Today’s Author and check it out.

Hope you enjoy.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

Speakeasy #142: Interpretations

Big Ben UK

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Yeshasvi whispered.

“Oh, well. I’m going to do it anyway.”

Jack stalked the cold streets of London, hands dug into the pockets of his frock coat. The tools of his trade, hanging from the leather apron hidden underneath his bend, clinked as he strode the lit walk. The noise caused coves and haybags to glance his direction, but the beauty of the moon and the weight of their own cares pulled their attention away from him.

He espied a ladybird flouncing her wares to all and sundry. He admired her nancy-sway, and pulled down the brim of his top hat as she chatted up a crusher on the corner. The judy undoubtedly made plans to dab it up with the copper. Jack believed she was just a dollymop, but maybe the rozzer was her abbot.

A feral grin distorted Jack’s features as the tail scampered off with a wave.

“Wait, wait, wait! Ladybird? Nancy-sway? Dollymop? What are these words?” Miss Anja demanded.

“I have a translation at the end, Miss Anja. Just be patient.”

“Jay…” she said in her warning tone. She sighed at his innocent expression. “Continue.”

Jack scurried after his pidgeon flying the coop, ducking his head as he passed the miltonian. He needn’t have bothered as the pig stared through him, no hint of alarm aside from a slight shiver.

The mark strolled her merry way to The Chapel, his old hunting grounds. He passed sharps taking muck snipes for their last mag, while mumpers on the blob wrangled a fadge from grasping fists as Nox deepened her sway over London.

Sigh.

“Yes, Miss Anja?”

“Nothing,” she said, cradling her forehead in her palm. “Carry on.”

London Particular rolled in, further obscuring him from the toffer. Thoughts of her Miss Laycock made his Nebuchadnezzar fight the constraining kecks. He wouldn’t put him out to grass, that wasn’t his way, but he would satisfy the old king.

“Ahem!”

“Yes, ma’am?”

“Did that mean what I think it meant?”

“Well, tell me what you think it meant and I’ll tell you.”

Miss Anja opened her lips, but the expectant looks of a full classroom stopped her. “After class.”

“May I continue?”

“Yes.” She shook her head and muttered, “Why did I ever become a teacher?”

The nemmo ducked into an alleyway, confused by the pea soup. Jack kept a weather eye out for mug-hunters and stepped to the alley mouth. He heard a Prater squall, “The End Is Nigh!”, behind him. Appropriate.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Jack whirled at the voice. A tall, lean man appeared from the white-bank. “Spring-Heel, what are you doing here?”

Spring-Heel nodded in the direction of the alley. “Them nobblers from America is waitin’ on you. They’s right punishers, those Yanks.”

Jack’s eyes narrowed as his hand tightened on his Neddy. “I’m not afraid of some rampers from the colonies.”

A voice yelled from down the alley, “And we ain’t afraid of no ghosts!”

“Oh, God!” Miss Anja moaned.

“What now?”

She glared at her recalcitrant student. “You know what! Ghostbusters? Seriously?”

“It fits the milieu.”

Miss Anja threw up her hands. “Just finish, if only because I can’t believe you know the word ‘milieu.'”

Four varicolored beams lit the alley in oranges and purples. Jack and Spring-Heel screamed as the energy streams pierced their incorporeal forms, dragging them to a small box. One of the men, with tall hair and glasses, stepped on a pad and the top opened up, light pouring forth and blinding the two specters.

Jack felt his essence distend as he warped and twisted into the trap. A rotten egg smell caused the four men and their decoy to gag a little bit. The man with frizzy black hair looked at the woman they hired to play bait. “So, how much?”

“I think that’s enough!” Miss Anja held out her hand. “Paper, please.”

Jay shuffled forward, inching the paper out. Miss Anja read the list of translations, eyebrow arching as she went along. “To the principal’s office, young man. We’re calling your parents.”

“Awww! Why? I did the assignment!”

“The assignment was to write a scene from a play in the style of Shakespeare!”

“Murder, ghosts…sounds pretty Shakespearean to me.”

“Go!” She pointed to the door.

“So, I guess I don’t get any pudding?”

“What?”

“You know…the song?”

“Yes, you don’t get any pudding if you don’t eat your meat…” A titter roiled through the class.

Jay snickered and left.

Word Count: 750

Speakeasy #142. This week’s prompts: “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” To be used anywhere in the story. There is also a photo prompt, which can be seen at the top of the post. The challenge: Use 750 words or less to tell a story incorporating those elements in some way.

I was going to go dark, but decided to lighten it up a bit. As promised, Miss Anja, here are the translations 😀 Please don’t give me detention (I mean, I didn’t kill you off 😉 )!

I believe this is the site Jay used (ahem) when he wrote his story: Victorian Slang Glossary

Cove: man

Haybag: woman

bend: waistcoat, vest

ladybird: a prostitute

nancy: buttocks (so nancy-sway is…you get the picture)

crusher: policeman

judy: a woman, specifically a prostitute

dab: to bed (dab it up with ____ means sexual intercourse)

Copper: a policeman

dollymop: a prostitute, often an amateur or part-time street girl; a midinette.

Rozzer(s): policmen

abbot: the husband, or preferred man of an Abbess (a woman who runs a brothel. A Madame.)

tail: prostitute (I really should have grouped these together 😉 )

pidgeon: victim

Miltonian: policeman

pig: survives to this day…you know this one

The Chapel: Whitechapel

sharps: card swindlers

muck snipes: people who are “down and out”

Mag: Ha’pence

mumpers: begger or scrounger

on the blob: begging by telling hard-luck stories

fadge: farthing

London Particular: London “pea soup” fog

toffer: a superior prostitute

Miss Laycock: female sexual organs

Nebuchadnezzar (out to grass): male sexual organs; to put out to grass = engage in sexual intercourse

kecks: trousers

nemmo: woman

mug-hunters: a street-robber or footpad. Hence the modern “Mugger”

Prater: a bogus itinerate preacher

nobblers: (1) One who inflicts grevious bodily harm.  (2) A sharper’s confederate

punishers: Superior nobblers.  Men employed to give severe beatings

Neddy: cosh

rampers: a tearaway or hoodlum.

Head over to Speakeasy on Sundays for the prompts and Tuesday through Thursday for some great writers who participate in this challenge.

Hope you enjoy.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

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