Magnolia Smile

The following is a prompt challenge presented to me by the uber talented Karen Craven over at Table for One.  (Click here for Karen’s challenge post.) The word for this prompt is magnolia, and there is no word count. I’m not sure if Frank from A Frank Angle will take part in this one, seeing as how it’s a single word and he seems to prefer bigger challenges. I do know that Dale from A Dalectable Life will be taking part, so stay tuned for that. 

Magnolia Smile 

Her laugh was an unrelenting sugar rush.

It shook him to his bones, it thieved away his darkest moments. It was her spirit that lit his fuse, that thrilled him to a time when the world seemed an everlasting fairy tale. He ruminated on the melody that happened every time she walked in a room.

It was in that magnolia smile where he would find his masterpiece.

His art had become the abject destination of curious trawlers and time travelers whose interest in the arts was little more than a promiscuous undertaking. The epicurean bachelors about town reeled in his artwork as if a prized marlin.  Trust fund kids dug his pieces just fine, because they’d been grandfathered into high art by boomer parents who relegated passion to their investment portfolios. The theater crowd loved his magnum sized expressions, if only for the conversations they engendered. The outer boroughs feasted on his works in a vain attempt to appear more cultured and less like dilettante impostors.

His compromised relevance was the proverbial bitter pill; to be swallowed for its financial properties but whose lasting effects were a scowling impropriety to the very soul of a true artist. His soul.

His road had been paved with suffering and loss, until one day in the middle of being strangled into obscurity, he was discovered. And it was the result of a piece he’d had little use for. A nude portrait of a woman dining at an outdoor cafe on the Champs-Elysees. His medium had been oil, his time spent meager and his feelings for the work very much acrimonious. It was a fortnight’s worth of painting and drinking and fucking his model- a bored housewife waiting for Godot out in the suburbs. It had been met with a collective shrug upon its opening. His fates were rewritten weeks later when this particular piece caught the eye of a world famous director who gobbled it up, after which he commissioned several more pieces from the artist.

His would become the overnight success story for the requisite fifteen minutes of that famed Warhol premonition. After which he retired to a secluded universe of pain pills, bourbon and the occasional interview with Charlie Rose or a big deal blogger.

He saw himself as a character out of a Horatio Alger novel. He’d lived most of his live like a modern day Van Gogh and gotten drunk on the excesses of fame before fixing on a plateau that would provide him with a comfortable afterglow. His life would become planted to this existence, as if a star in the deepest recesses of the universe; content with having shined for a moment. And then she came along and changed the rules.

They met in a book store and from there it was as if the sun spoke to them in marvelous riddles and the moon in fabulous rhyme. And to this ethereal consequence of a chance meeting, they forged a unified spirit whose ferocity was a religion; whose hopes watered the fertile soil and whose wishes grew them in abundance.

Their romance would never be defined by marriage talk; they were not political animals of all that cliched hubris and its endless paperwork. They would live together as two planets aligned inside their own orbit. With no children to call their own, with no place to call their home, they would abide by a manifest of dreamers . . and they would simply roam.

And then one day in the middle of a deep and not insignificant conversation about Kurt Vonnegut, she told him to paint her. When she suggested such a thing, he fell into the kind of deep and endless love he’d only dreamed about in his previous life. It was an exquisitely painful emotion, love. It was compelling and severe, all encompassing and completely unfair. And to all of this, he was able to tap into its mercurial qualities.

He painted like a fiend preparing for one final heist, for days on end with with little sleep and copious amounts of Prosecco. It was her favorite, and so it would become his lifeblood . . his sugar water reasoning in a world whose soul had collapsed into a Bosch like inferno.

His brushstrokes were pain staking trespasses whose flow was constantly interrupted by the most brilliant awakening of his life. Her long, flowing brunette locks ran scoundrel inside the most lurid parts of his imagination. Her dimples made him feel like a shy little schoolboy. Her cranberry lips and ivory legs were a provocative rapture that made him grateful to be a man. Her hips were borne out of a rock and roll lullaby by Bowie. Her voice was opera on a summer night. Her words, every single one of them, was full of purpose and might. It was in her being that he understood the proverbs. It was in her soul that he understood the rest.

And to this love, never ending, he would paint . . maniacally so. And this would be his final work, because it had to be. Because he had nothing left of himself to give, but this. It was his gift to her, from the here and now to the spindles of that mysterious forever. He would never pick up a paint brush again because to do so would be to give his heart to something other than the one thing that made him true.

Her magnolia smile.

 

Buttoned Up Man

If it’s Tuesday, it must be time for a prompt inspired post. Well . . it should have been posted last night but that’s neither here nor there, soooo . . . Tuesday morning it is homies!

The prompt for today’s post is “Buttoned Up”.  That trouble making lovely from Montreal way, Dale of A Dalectable Life and the Irish Mafia wild child from Chi town, Karen Craven, of Table For One were culprits in this here mayhem, so go blame them. But I warn you, stepping foot in their digs is habit forming. 

And now, as Ed Sullivan used to say . . let’s get on with this mofo! 

When you do a job, it’s quite straightforward.

You are presented with a biography, and you are asked to still its advent. There is no emotional presentation to be culled from the transaction of personal information, only the rubric of habits and patterns . . as well as any current fascinations which might prove either problematic or expeditious to the task at hand.

It’s like closing a real estate deal; you are transferring the deed from one realm to the next. It’s not your business to think about the next realm since it’s just a job; you simply refer to the calculations . . mathematical . . cold and straightforward with no mystery or intrigue attached to the equation.

So here I am, studying a person’s life out of a manila folder. Fifty eight years, seven months and thirteen days . . . presented in quadrants, which makes me think of that Godfather song about birth, school, work and death. Every parcel of information is important so I read it thoroughly. And then I peruse it again as I sit in my apartment and crank up some Verdi and open a bottle of Merlot in order to catch a buzz. I like to prosper the information from various states of mental acuity. Dulling the senses is simply a matter of slowing down the thought processes. The byproduct of such a strategy is to introduce another vantage point. I call it recon sourcing.

The wine is doing its unpretentious best to dismiss all serious thought, which is why I chose Verdi for my musical carpet ride. Depressing compositions allow me to remain linear when my brain is ready to salsa dance.

I call them numbers. He will be Number 28. A semi-retired contractor who is busy living the American dream. He owns three homes, a couple of successful businesses, a trophy wife almost half his age and a creamy side dish he keeps hidden in a posh condo in town.

The sonofabitch has no idea it’s all coming to an end.

It’s ten minutes to midnight, and in a little more than nine hours I’ll be waiting for him in the parking lot of the Silver Leaf Construction Company. He’ll make the scene a couple minutes before nine because he is never, ever late . . even when he should be. On Thursday mornings, he usually sleeps at the office- which happens to be located downtown, in that posh condo with the creamy side dish. So he’ll bring his candy crush- a cardinal red metallic Mercedes-Benz SL roadster. It percolates on a twin-turbo V12 whose drip is 621 horses. He opened this bad ass up on the Autobahn before having it shipped to the states. On this side of the pond, it opens up everything else so to his way of thinking it’s worth the price of admission.

So he’ll swing into the parking space two spots to the left of the double doors. There’s no nameplate on the parking space, but it’s understood who parks there, simple as that. And that’s when I’ll remove myself from a nondescript late model and make my way to the double doors, meeting him somewhere in between.

I practice my preach in front of the mirror, bringing my best Clint Eastwood out to play. The words I know by heart, it’s the tone I want to cleave into something sinister sounding. Because we’ll only share the space of a moment together before I end things, so I want to fetch the best possible reaction. It’s the little things.

Isn’t it amazing how three little words can change your life for the best and the worst? I chuckle at the thought as the clock strikes midnight before delivering the words that will end the life he knew.

“You’ve been served . . .” 

 

The Truth about Rubber and Glue

The following prompt is working in the vein of the old “I’m rubber, you’re glue . .” riposte. This chummy challenge was created by those two mistresses of mayhem- Dale of A Dalectable Life and Karen of Table for One

Do not ask me how these ladies come up with the craziness. But I’ll try ‘me best to keep up with ’em. This here is ALL dialogue, because I’m tinkering some. So welcome, to my warped mind . . .

“She’s great,”

“But . . ”

“Nothing. Rachel is really great. No addendum . . ” Billy said, as he put his phone on speaker so he could grab a beer from the fridge.

“If you say so. Where’d you guys go?” Andrea asked while doing her nails and sipping on Shiraz.

“Luca,”

“Oh, the new place downtown, cool! Whatcha have?”

“Octopus, and a pie . . the Palermo. Rustic, tasty and pricey as all fuck,”

“Smart, first date, communal dishes . . I taught you well. What was her drink?”

“Iced tea,”

“With?”

“Lemon, she doesn’t drink alcohol,”

“Oh no, no . . no . . no . . no . .no!”

“It’s fine, I don’t need a drinking partner. I have you,”

“She doesn’t drink because she has a medical condition, I hope,”

“Andy, slow your roll to the fiery pits girl!”

“So her not drinking alcohol is a personal preference? Like . . for funzies?

“Yeah, and I dig that,”

“Oh please Billy! Do I have to remind you of your theory on women who smoke cigarettes?”

“Because that happens to be true, Andy. A woman who smokes possesses a natural oral fixation . . hence, there is a greater likelihood she’s got the freak gene. It’s a scientific fact, don’t mess with the science . .”

“Far be it from me to dispute your One Eye Science Guy thesis . . .”

“Alcohol is different. And besides, she doesn’t care if I drink . .”

“Yet,”

“What are you saying?”

“She’s a woman, and these things are subject to change. Like, the minute things get serious,”

“Anyway . .”

What?! You guys had sex on the first date? Really?!” Andrea squealed.

“How did you jump there?”

“Your tone, it was measured. And you segued much too easily . . you chose a stand alone qualifier, which is a dead giveaway,”

“It’s amazing how a penis stunts our thought processes . . but a vagina, it comes with a library . . ” Billy laughed.

“Don’t be bitter. Sooo, how was it?”

“Good,”

“Oh my God, I’m sorry hon,”

“What?”

“Good sex is like a spork . . it’ll get the job done but you’re not going to invest in place settings . .”

“She has an allergy to rubbers,”

“Oh, girl ain’t down with the latex delivery method, huh?”

“It’s not funny, Andy . . .”

“No you’re right . . it’s hilarious!”

“You’re a bitch, you know that?”

“That’s what my mother says, every day in fact,”

“The worst part is, she referred to her allergic reaction to condoms as a rubber allergy.”

“Well that’s silly . . I mean, not all condoms are created equal,” Andrea said.

“I know . . ”

“So she’s either ditzy or depraved . . which means there is a chance for you two after all!”

“I really don’t think she knew . . .”

“How old is this Rachel chick?”

“Old enough,”

“Hmmm,”

“You think I should cut my losses . . .” Billy said.

“I didn’t say anything,”

“You sure as hell did. Your hmmmm is equivalent to the nuclear option . .”

“Oh hell no, I won’t be the judge and jury to this love gone wrong. It’s all you Billy boy!” Andrea giggled as she poured herself a second glass of Shiraz and checked her Netflix queue for romantic comedies and horror flicks. It was same difference as far as her jaded self was concerned.

“Well, thank you for your pennies on the dollar romantic advice, Andy . .”

“De nada, homie. Oh way, way . . WAIT! So . . what did, you guys end up doing?”

“Instead of sex we went out and robbed a liquor store. Had to take out the owner, but we got away with a shopping cart full of shit and sixty seven dollars,”

“You’re such a child,” Andrea snorted.

“We umm . . ”

“No you didn’t. Billy tell me you didn’t!”

“What?”

“You did the pulling out thing?

“And so what if I did? . . .”

“Pulling out is not an exit strategy unless you’re a soldier in the middle east . . that’s what,” 

“What was I supposed to do? Go to the twenty four hour vasectomy clinic?”

“You could’ve knocked over a liquor store for reals . . that would’ve been smarter . . .”

“You’re being dramatic,” Billy laughed.

“Okay, pro tip. Don’t call a woman dramatic when she’s drinking wine. It’s never a good idea, but even less so in my present state. Because these happy grapes turn quick-a-lee when their mellow is harshed in the slightest . . .”

“Withdrawal is not my preferred method, but when in Rome, yanno?”

“Listen Caligula, I’m just saying. If you two plan on moving this thing forward, you gotta tighten things up.”

“Entiendo,”

“Slam, bam . . I’d like to make a withdrawal ‘maam!” Andrea giggled.

“Haha,”

“Oh Bill . . I don’t mean to be a nudge, baby . . daddy!” She laughed.

“Very funny,”

“When are you seeing her again? In nine months?”

“It’s amazing you’re still single, woman . .”

“Do you think I’d get a reaction from her if I told her I was rubber and she was glue?” Andrea guffawed.

“G’night Andy,”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never After

“The end is simply another beginning waiting to happen,” She whispered.

“Spare me the tired rock song,” I said.

Her laughter, it was like trying to capture the wind in your hands. She had Audrey Hepburn in the curious tilt of her head and Carole King rummaging storms in that sultry voice. A feline declaration owned the curl in her wicked smile.

“Our story . . is over,”

Her body went dark. Her wings, no longer inviolable, fell to the ground like a weathered steeple. The moments wept as if a priceless work of art in a city full of thieves.

Stolen.

The following short story was inspired by a prompt doled out by the lovely Tara Roberts at Thin Spiral Notebook. The prompt word was Story, and Tara’s rules were fun and simple. Use or infer the word in a 100 word story. Exactly 100 words. Admittedly, I am not the most adept social networker (mild understatement), but I did it once before and nobody got hurt. AND, it happened to be a ton of fun. So thank you Tara! 

All Creatures Great and Small

I volunteer at a local animal shelter with my daughter.

Volunteer mornings are a favorite thing. Time moves in a quieted roam whose fine deliberations are dressed in simple miracles of faith and belief. The world goes small and understandable and its price tag feels redeemable inside the peace achieved as if angels made it so.

It’s a gift of moments wrapped in time and place. It’s a warm embrace full of love’s most earnest try. It’s a lesson taught unfailingly. It’s a promise kept. It’s a dream obliged. It’s what makes this spinning world worth all the secrets.

Hope.