Speakeasy #145: Her Majesty’s Ranger-The Hunt

Cezanne-cardplayers1

Cezanne-cardplayers1

I have spent years chasing the tail of my darkness. The murderer of my mentor, Mallais, ever eludes my grasp and the Queen’s justice.

He shall not do so again.

Hidden like a common cur, I stride through the dust of Hope. A ‘free’ village, the peasants shuffle with an absence of their community’s namesake. A lift-skirt eyes me, suspicion and warning mixed with desperation. I bury myself deeper within my cowl and hurry on, uninterested in losing my cover due to worries over lost business.

You need to change your walk, Izzy, vibrates in my ear. Even disguised you scream “Ranger!”, and you know what they say.

Rangers hope for hot glares instead of cold steel in Hope, I sub-vocalize. My hound companion, Keats, waits on the outskirts, his distinctive appearance a detriment instead of boon during this excursion. Maybe Cezanne will be drawn out by rumors of-

Two figures, dressed in royal blue-gold livery, halt my advance with their presence farther up the street. Plas-sheets adorned with my visage flash at uncooperative villagers. “Artemis’ ass,” blurts out of my mouth.

I bolt inside a tavern, murmuring, “Forgive me, Goddess, my blasphemies.” A haze of pipe-smoke sears my senses as I inhale my new surroundings. Silence, broken only by the soft flap of cards shuffled, holds sway. Villains stare at colored shards of plas with cold intent, my presence unregistered as they attend their sport.

Izzy?

QueensHands. Later. I sidle up to the bar and signal the tavern-master for ale, unsure of how to proceed. The Royal Guard of Her Majesty, known as the QueensHands, draw worthies from across the special forces wielded by the kingdom. Those few accepted are augmented by arcane sciences held secret for centuries.

Mallais served with them, only to die at the hand of his partner, Cezanne de Paulo.

I imagine the same intelligence about Cezanne’s whereabouts graced their path as it did mine. Fear, not a foreign emotion, but distant enough to be mere acquaintance, announces his presence within me. I fear not the punishment for leaving without authorization on my hunt, nor do I fear the QueensHands, formidable foes, but also fair.

No. I fear justice delayed and vengeance denied.

With my movements hindered, I find myself at a loss. It feels as if the Silver-Maiden turns away her favor.

Thoughts of surrender race through me. I stand, ready to face the Queen’s judgement, when a quick tug upon my cloak halts my despair. A small boy grins and motions me closer. I lean down and the scamp whispers, “I know who you seek.”

Child-wisdom senses my disbelief. “Cezanne the Darkhand, he resides at the Planetfall Inn.”

Gold flashes between my fingers, and disappears with alacrity inside his tunic. I ruffle his hair, though he sends me to a trap. He runs off, no doubt to call my arrival. “Forgive my doubts, Artemis,” I whisper. “I shall see the hunt through to fruition.”

Keats!

Izzy? The QueensHands can monitor these frequencies.

I hope they do. Meet me at the Planetfall Inn.

***

My Goddess smiles upon me as I reach Cezanne’s den without meeting my pursuers. Tabanca fills my hand as I throw off my cloak. Concentrated plasma explodes the door into splinters, and screams betray those hiding in ambush. “DARKHAND! I, Isabella Florentine, have come. Face me.”

A slow clap answers my bravado, and thugs encircle me in a moon of filth. “You are a persistent one, young Isabella.” His voice echoes from a communicator on a table. “Too persistent. Ah, well.”

His timbre hardens. “Kill her.”

My eyes swivel to each man. “I offer you one chance. Leave now. If not…”

“What?” one of them asks.

“Then you will learn a poet’s sting strikes down the mightiest of mortals.” My whistle pierces the evening. The questioner falls, throat missing from a black flash. Tabanca sings, sending to eternal sleep one, then another.

The last piece of my trap falls as blue-gold blurs descend upon my would-be slayers. Monofilament-blades sparkle as foes fall. In moments bodies litter the streets of Hope.

I stride to the communicator. “Hear me, Cezanne. You may hide, but I will find you. This is not over.”

His laughter mocks me. “I shall enjoy the pursuit, dear child. Fare thee…poorly.”

“Ranger.” A Hand approaches me, eyes glittering. “By order of Her Majesty…we are to aid you in your hunt.” He smiles. “If you’ll have us.”

I glance at Keats, who nods his blood-muzzled head. “The hunt continues.”

Word Count: 750

Speakeasy #145. Her Majesty’s Ranger, Isabella Florentine, and her faithful hound, Keats, are back with a new enemy and some new allies. If you missed their introduction, you can find it here. In keeping with the previous story, I incorporated the artist’s name into the story. Mostly because I think Cezanne kicks gluteus maximus as a bad guy name.

The prompts this week are Cezanne’s CardPlayers-1, to be referenced in some way, and the sentence “I have spent years chasing the tail of my darkness”, to be used as the first line.

Rules:

  • Your post must be dated January 19, 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 FIRST line: “I have spent years chasing the tail of my darkness.”
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The badge for your speakeasy #145 post is found in the sidebar. Add the code to the html view of your post before publishing.

Hope you enjoy this foray into the planetary kingdom of Gliese and my delve into sci-fantasy.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

Speakeasy #143: Heroes

Hibiscus

There was a loud crash in the hallway. “Go check out that noise, Miss Might,” Captain Glory ordered.

Miss Might strode out into Wonder-Base’s cavernous hall. Her eyes narrowed as a flash of pink and purple crossed her vision. “It’s Dis-Maid! She’s stolen the plans for Dr. Ornery’s Destructo-satellite!” Pounding footsteps echoed as she thumped after the intruder.

Captain Glory turned to his trusted lieutenant, Speed-Demon. “Get after her.”

Onitbossman.” SD sped off, leaving only an after-image. Captain Glory rose into the air, flying out of the room to join the chase. He navigated the twist and turns of Wonder-Base with practiced ease, halting as he came upon SD helping Miss Might to her feet. “What happened?”

Miss Might shook her head in anger. “Dis-Maid threw some kind of force-field at me, stopping me in my tracks.” She rubbed her forehead. “Kind of hurt. She made it outside.”

Captain Glory frowned and he stepped to the force-field, pounding on it as hard as he could. “No help for it, we have to go around.”

The trio raced for the back exit, which let out at the bank of river. SD ran over the top of the water, his speed so great he wouldn’t fall in. Captain Glory grabbed Miss Might by the arms and yanked her into the air, flying to join Speed-Demon on the other side. Once reassembled, Captain Glory took charge. “She’s probably hiding in her secret lair.”

He grinned, and his teammates echoed it. “Luckily for us, it’s not that secret. Here’s what we’re going to do.” The three of them huddled close together.

***

An old warehouse served as Dis-Maid’s hideout. Guards, unaware of whom they worked for, patrolled the grounds. Miss Might, in her secret identity as a detective for the Future City Police, strolled to the gatehouse. “I’m sorry, ma’am. You can’t come in here,” the guard manning the post said.

Miss Might pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to him. “This is a warrant allowing me to search the area.” She fought down her smile as the guard looked at the gobbledygook of legalese with confusion. “Tell no one I’m here. This might be the scene of a crime.”

The guard looked alarmed, but pressed the button to open the gate. Miss Might nodded at him and strode off into the compound.

A slight breeze told her Speed-Demon took advantage of the opening to zoom through the gate. He waved to her from behind an old pile of boxes. “TookyourtimeIsee,MM.

She rolled her eyes. “If you can wait for a moment, I’ll change.” She twirled around in place, her civilian clothes magically changing into her uniform. “Ah. That’s better. Where’s Glory?”

SD pointed up to the roof. She craned her neck up to see Captain Glory sneaking across the slanted rooftop to a window nearby. “That wasn’t part of the plan,” she hissed. “He’ll get us all killed!”

Speed-Demon shrugged. “He’sthebossman.Hisplanhisrules.

She watched as Captain Glory eased open the bottom pane, wincing when he yelled, “Aha! We have you now, vile fiend!”

“Billy, Freddie, Mary, CeCe, time for din- Billy Eugene Watson, you get down from there this instant!”

“Aw, Mom, we’re trying to save the world!”

Billy’s mother crossed her arms and tapped her foot. “You’re trying to break you neck. Quit being ornery. Get. Down. Now!”

Billy scampered into the window, the cry of, “MOOOM! Billy’s in my room!”, taking his place.

Mrs. Watson sighed and glanced at Freddie and Mary, who fidgeted and tried to look innocent next to the backyard shed. Her eyes widened when she saw Freddie’s pant legs. “Frederick, did you jump into the puddle?”

“No, Mrs. Watson. I ran across it.”

“Well, aren’t you just the little speed demon?” Mary tried to turn and rub her forehead, but Mrs. Watson caught the movement. “Mary, are you hurting?”

“I might.”

“Well, miss might, do you or don’t you?” Mrs. Watson motioned her closer and gasped. “What’s that?”

“A bruise from when I ran into CeCe’s door,” she mumbled.

“Is that all the banging I heard?”

“No. That was Cap…I mean Billy trying to get through the force-field.”

Billy peeked his head around his mother’s back, grinning and waggling his eyebrows. His mouth moved along with Mom’s words. “I am very dismayed right now. It’s a wonder you three don’t destroy this house.” Mrs. Watson shook her head. “Glory be, you kids will be the end of me.”

Billy, Mary, and Freddie burst out laughing.

Word Count: 750

Speakeasy #143. This week’s prompts: The photo above, to be referenced in some way within the story, and the sentence, “There was a loud crash in the hallway.” The sentence prompt must be used as the First line of the story or poem.

Rules:

And here are the rules:

  • Your post must be dated January 5, 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 FIRST line: “There was a loud crash in the hallway.”
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The badge for your speakeasy #143 post is found in the sidebar. Add the code to the html view of your post before publishing.

Don’t forget to come back on Tuesday and add your link to the Inlinkz grid!

Head over to Speakeasy and read some great writers. Feel free to join in the fun with your own piece!

Since I’m still in a musical mood, I’ll leave you with this:

*Note* Idea credit: My little boy, without whom I would have stared at these prompts blankly and probably missed this week!

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 #140: Her Majesty’s Ranger

John Everett Millais: Isabella, 1848-49..

Isabella by John Everett Millais

I found the tracks in the deep snow between the trees. My hand caressed a solitary salmon thread, ripped from its owner. My hound, Keats, growled as Lorenzo’s scent grew ever stronger. “Go, boy.”

Keats bounded away in the winter twilight, a silent messenger of savagery for whatever filthy kidnapper crossed his path. Fingers tightened on my most trusted friend, Tabanca, riding low at my side. Hardened muscles, honed from years of training and patrolling with the Rangers of Artemis, exploded into motion.

Keats’ prints dimmed as the gloom grew, but the further into the forest we traveled, the more sign I discovered. A broken branch here, a dangling cobweb there, all processed automatically as I ran in the easy rhythm pounded into me by Ranger Mallais. My focus narrowed as visions of justice gaoled my thoughts.

Like the rankest amateur.

A low growl broke free my foolishness for the Goddess to gaze upon. Keats circled a badger-like creature with golden fur, silver eyes, and eight viciously clawed paws. An aurumvorax. Tabanca filled my hand, ready to strike for the glory of the Goddess, the Queen, and the Rangers.

As I crept closer to flank the beast, a whiff of smoke performed its own assault on my senses. Taboo and decree declared this wood off-limits to all but Rangers, punishable by death. I reasoned my quarry lay near, which cast my current battle in a new light. I could not risk the sounds of dispatching so dangerous a beast reaching my true prey.

Tabanca disappeared back into her sheath, replaced by several golden coins all Rangers carry for emergency purposes. Fortunately, gold served as a delicacy to the aurumvorax, and my dilemma certainly qualified as an emergency. The Goddess’ light twinkled off the flying treasure as it scattered in the snow.

The creature hesitated, torn between fresh meat or that which made it so deadly. In the end, the promise of increased power won out and it started rooting through the banks to find its metal muse. I grunted at Keats, and that faithful hound and I resumed our hunt.

The stench of unwashed villains soon mixed with the ever-increasing smell of smoke. Voices, borne upon Aeolus’ grace, reached my straining ears. I communed with Keats and we slowed our advance, seeking refuge behind a rivenoak. Shadow became our ally as we darted from tree to tree. A quick flick of my fingers sent Keats slinking off so we may encircle our game.

I peeked around the great bole, my gaze falling upon a large, bearded ruffian gnawing on a piece of meat, drippings matting chin-hair into a tangled mess. His companion, a thin, pinch-faced fellow, guzzled wine from a leather bladder, red rivulets echoing his nature.

I saw no sign of Lorenzo.

A small subsonic yip vibrated in my cyber-ears. Tabanca rang with joyous abandon as concentrated plasma burst forth, exploding the fire and sending the fiends scrambling. Keats cybernetic legs propelled him onto the back of the fat one, chromed teeth rending flesh. I pointed Tabanca at the drunkard. “Where is Lorenzo?”

His Adam’s apple bobbed as I watched lies race through his eyes. A quick glance to the side of the clearing bespoke cruel truth, but I reined my fury and did not kill him.

Yet.

“Who hired you?” I gestured to his unmoving companion on the ground, swimming in a pool of crystallizing red. “Before you speak lies, know that you have only two choices. A quick, painless death,” I lifted Tabanca, “or death by poet.” I pointed at Keats, tongue lolling and Hades own grin on his face. “He will make your death a work of art to be marveled at by enemies of the Crown for centuries. What say you?”

After I garnered what information I needed, a blast to his head fulfilled my bargain. Keats sniffed out Lorenzo’s shallow grave, and I reclaimed my lost love’s head, as custom demanded.

***

“Thus is the testimony of Isabella Florentine née Boccaccio, Captain in Her Majesty’s Rangers of Artemis, independent planetary kingdom of Gliese, year of our lord 2343. I serve the Goddess and Her Majesty at their pleasure.” My face is expressionless as I shoot my lover’s killer in the stomach and leave him to die slow, writhing like a worm.

“And that pleasure is your doom, Giovanni Boccaccio, former head of the Bardic Society and former beloved brother.” I pat Keats on the head as we walk out the door and back to our duty.

Word Count: 750

Genre: Sci-Fantasy

Speakeasy time again! This week’s prompts: The painting Isabella by John Everett Millais, based on a poem by John Keats, who based it on a work by Giovanni Boccaccio. Get it? Got it? Good.

Our sentence, to be used in the first line, comes from the very talented winner of last week’s Speakeasy, EA Wicklund. The sentence: I found the tracks in the deep snow between the trees.

Head over to Speakeasy and check out some very good writers as they all put their own spin on the prompts. Entries are posted on Tuesdays!

The rules:

  • Your post must be dated December 15, 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 FIRST line: “I found the tracks in the deep snow between the trees.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The badge for your speakeasy #140 post is found in the sidebar. Add the code to the html view of your post before publishing.

Hope you enjoy this week’s offering.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

Speakeasy #139: Family Secrets

Kristy scooted her canvas chair closer to the fire crackling on the ground, holding her hands to the flames. The forest clearing seemed preternaturally quiet without the normal rustling and chirping during normal camping trips. The flames hypnotized her until a hand bearing a brown bottle obstructed her view. “Here ya go, lil’ sis. That’ll warm you up.”

“I’m only sixteen, Derek,” she protested as she took the offering.

Her big brother shrugged it off as he sank into his own chair. “Grandpa gave me my first one at twelve.”

The mention of her grandfather brought pain to her eyes. “Do you think anyone will find out?”

“Don’t see how. If they do, I’ll take the fall for it. Go ahead, drink up.” He suited action to words and guzzled a long pull from his bottle.

Kristy placed the mouth on hesitant lips. The carbonation and sour taste fought against her gag reflex to travel to her stomach. Derek grinned at Kristy’s scrunched features. “It gets easier the more you have. Keep going.”

Kristy pinched her nose and gulped down several swallows. “That’s horrible.”

“It’ll put hair on your chest.”

Kristy rolled her eyes and stuck out her tongue. “I don’t think any future boyfriends will appreciate that too much.”

Derek refused to answer. The two drank in silence; several bottles created a small pyramid next to each of them, though Derek’s stood a little taller. He broke the comfortable sibling silence with a soft chuckle. “Grandpa told the best stories.”

Kristy frowned, but didn’t interrupt. “Do you remember that one he told about how he met Bing Crosby in a bar? He said they got rip-roaring drunk and staggered out into the street.”

Kristy’s mouth curved upward of its own volition. “Grandpa said, ‘It looks like a winter wonderland out here.'”

“And I’ll be damned if old Bing didn’t take that and make a Christmas classic. I never saw a dime!” they finished together.

Kristy chuckled as another story came to mind. “What about the one where he took Dad to see Santa?”

Derek burst into a hearty guffaw, slapping his knee. “And he got into a fight with a midget because he said, ‘I thought elves were supposed to be cute.’ Ha! Remember how he’d have us hold onto his leg and he’d drag us around to show us what the fight looked like?”

Kristy snorted as the memory took hold, choking slightly on the drink she’d just taken. Derek hurried over and pounded on her back during her coughing fit. “Try not to choke to death on liquid, genius.”

“B..bite me,” she hacked out.

“I’ll leave that to those imaginary boyfriends of yours.” Derek stretched, arms wide. “Well, time to break the seal. Be back in a minute.” He headed into the tree-line, leaving Kristy wiping her eyes of tears and thinking of her grandparents.

Grandma kept busy by going to book clubs, gossiping with the women at the salon, and baking. Lots and lots of baking. I’m going to go up two sizes if she keeps going at this pace. She thought of the delicious pies, cookies, and breads that Grandma brought over almost daily. Totally worth it.

Derek stomped back, shivering. “It’s colder than a witches c-” He glanced at his sister. “Coffee,” he finished.

Kristy laughed at him. “I don’t think that’s the saying.”

“Well, virgin ears and all that.”

Kristy raised an eyebrow. “What makes you think I’m a virgin anything?”

Derek threw up his hand. “Don’t want to hear it. Please allow me my delusions,” he said as he retook his seat, affecting a mock shudder.

Kristy smiled. Her brother always knew how to lift her spirits, but she could feel the melancholy and worry start to descend again. “Do you think anyone will find out?”

Derek sighed. He leaned forward and stared directly in her eyes. “Grandma has a life now. One not filled with beatings and intimidation. The bastard’s dead, Kristy, and I told you, if anybody finds out it was us I’ll take the fall and say I acted alone. So quit worrying.”

Kristy felt tears come back for entirely different reasons and took a long pull from her beer.

Word Count: 700

Speakeasy #139

This week’s prompts: The video “Winter Wonderland” (seen above) and the sentence “Grandpa told the best stories” to be used anywhere in the story.

Head over to Speakeasy and read some great writers that are only improving week after week. Write up your own and join in the fun.

Hope you enjoy!

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn