A telephone rings on Chicago’s Northside…
“Hi, Cheryl, you used to teach swimming, I’ve a question.”
“I’m all ears, Ethel. Why do you ask?”
“You know how Betty got me started being a fiction writer, my blog? Whadda call the animal strokes?”
“Oh yes, your blog. I haven’t seen much writing there lately, thought you gave that up.”
“Writer’s block. Betty sent me the latest photo prompt by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, there’s a picture of this woman swimming also. Story!”
“Not that one.”
“No, isn’t there a frog one?”
“The breast stroke is also called the frog kick, Ethel.”
“Great! Perfect title too.”
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Betty tells me that Ethel is busy writing her first Friday Fictioneers story, but she’s having trouble sticking to the 100 word limit. If you want to write a story, everything you need to know is in the photo below, I think that may have been the one Ethel saw. The official prompt photo is at the top of this page, please use that one for your story.
I rarely reblog stories… I love this one and wanted to share it with my friends who like good stories.
So, a hammer walks into The Nutz & Boltz Tavern after a tough day on the job site.
The bartender leans over the bar. “What’ll it be, Hambo?”
“Gimme a Rusty Nail, Mack,” he replied. “And keep ’em comin’!”
“Rough day, huh? You look beat.” Mack observed as he built Ham’s drink.
Ham tried to shrug his steel shoulders. “Naaah. I’ll be alright after I pound a few of these down.”
Mack nodded. “That’s what you do best, buddy!”
The bartender’s sharp wit was never wasted on Hambo, and the two shared a hardy laugh.
Pretty soon, a nail saunters in to the same tavern. Seeing Hambo in her regular barstool, she opts for a seat at the other end of the bar. The little nail didn’t want any trouble.
“Be right back, Hambo.”
Mack swaggered toward his new patron. “Well, hello, Naylene…”
“Uh, h-h-hi, Mack.” Naylene stammered. His penetrating gaze and sleek, cunning…
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The pen wasn’t worth anything, but Maddie pocketed it anyway.
Jerry saw her do it and didn’t do anything. Maybe if it was one of the Cross ones, but this was a Bic.
As store manager, Jerry figured he had the right to look the other way, and this kid looked like she could use a little ‘looking the other way’.
He followed her, slyly he thought, thru the office supply section and watched her pocket a notebook.
She turned and looked at him, eyes of sadness, not fear, and it looked like she was about to cry.
“Hey, it’s all right. You aren’t in trouble, I’m the boss and I won’t tell myself what you are doing.” Hoping for a laugh.
She looked from right to left. “Hey don’t run. Let’s go get some ice cream and talk about this.” Kids like ice cream, Jerry does, and his store has good ice cream.
Maddie agreed, and with a cone in one hand and her bic pen in the other she poured out her heart to him. The school has no money to give out pencils and paper and she has an English assignment due, her mother has no money, she is only nine and has no job, neither does her mother.
Jerry listened to her, asked the name of her teacher, and took her back to the office supply section, stopping to get a cart first.
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Your line for this week is: The pen wasn’t worth anything, but Maddie pocketed it anyway. That was the prompt for First Line Fridays at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. Dylan Hughes is in charge, head on over and check out the stories, maybe add one of your own.
This was interesting to write, because when I saw the line I had to use, I immediately thought of something I saw on the news the other night and the story formed instantly. That’s my kind of flash fiction. I usually write 100 words, but this one went elsewhere, and I didn’t need Ethel & Cheryl’s help this time.
I got this message from my sister Mariya after she read this story. I thought I would share it… Good story! It is so true, even in my time of public school teaching 20 years ago. I cried reading it. I cannot tell you how many supplies I purchased, including books to keep, for kids whose parents just couldn’t because they were so broke, or because the parents had other problems and the children were neglected. Many teachers do this, even on their low-paying salaries compared to the amount of responsibility and workload involved in the job.
“Hey, Ethel, I’m stopping by Starbucks on my way over. Want coffee?”
“I only drink tea, Cheryl.”
“Oh really, since when? You had a latte at lunch yesterday.”
“Since last night. I read coffee is bad for you. It’s a stimulate, you know.”
“Everyone knows that. In moderation it’s fine, you just don’t know how to moderate. And, you are hyper enough without any added stimulation, Ethel.”
“Well, thank you for that, Cheryl.”
“Well, I’m stopping, they have a new Cinnamon Cloud Macchiato on the menu I want to try.”
“Cinnamon? Macchiatos have caramel. Okay, pick me one up, please.”
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100 Words of Flash Fiction for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie for Tale Weaver
“The Rolling Stones!”
“The Rolling Stones, that’s what I thought of when I looked at the photo.”
“That’s crazy, Ethel. Why the Stones, I don’t see Mick?”
“No not them, well I don’t think so. I just thought of rolling, then stones, then The
Rolling Stones. Well, maybe them then.”
“You never cease to amaze me. It’s a pretty interesting thing to see though.”
“What did you see? And don’t say some kind of sewing machine.”
“See, I knew it! Why?”
“I thought of spiders spinning webs.”
“That’s weird, Cheryl.”
“Not as weird as The Rolling Stones, Ethel.”
Writing 100 Words for the FridayFictioneers, and my daughter Ashley, who loves The Stones. A fascinating photo prompt, I would love to see in person, go visit Sandra Crook and she will tell you what it is. Thanks Rochelle for the inspiration this morning. For other stories inspired by this photo go here…
I wrote this story on March 12, 2012. I think it’s fun to bring it back once in a while to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Tomorrow is the big day, better get to the store to buy corn beef, cabbage and tortillas.
Quill Shiv has a new Haiku writing prompt… A photo of Saint Patrick.
Corned Beef and Cabbage Tacos… In 1986, back in my Restaurant Days, I went to work for Jerry Franco. Jerry was a bit of a culinary impresario on the Sacramento restaurant scene. He had just reopened the Town House on 21st Street, down the block from The Sacramento Bee newspaper. The Town House had been a Mexican Food tradition and had been sitting empty for a few years after the owner retired. Franco had opened in a blaze of glory, courting the news hounds and the denizens of California State Government. Having just left a job managing The Fabulous Fifties Cafe, I was ready to mingle with and serve adults. So I went to work for Jerry as a waiter/bartender/manager.
It was a fun place to work, and we did some crazy promotions to try to make the Town House a success. Big lunch business, big after-work bar business. He kept a few Mexican items on the menu, along with the ‘Upscale Designer’ dishes he came up with. Each Happy Hour, we featured a Taco Bar, where the patrons could make their own tacos, to wash down with their Martinis and G & T’s. For me, that taco bar was a pain in the ass, since I had to leave the bar and run back to the kitchen to replenish the supplies. But the tips were pretty good as long as the food held out.
Saint Patrick’s Day was coming up, and the Town House, along with every other bar and restaurant in Sacramento… no, in the United States… was looking for ways to make some money off one of our more important Drinking Holidays. I had the bright idea to put corned beef and cabbage on our Taco Bar for the day. Jerry agreed that it was a brilliant idea, and gave me full credit, in case it bombed. Getting free publicity was not too difficult since we always made sure to ‘take good care of’ certain writers from up the street. Low and behold, we saw some nice mentions in the gossip and the What’s Going On In Town sections of the Bee the day before, and our Happy Hour was packed that St. Paddy’s Day. In fact, two guys drove down from Hangtown at lunchtime to try the CB&C Tacos. I had to plead with the cook to make some for them. At Happy Hour, the idea was well received, lots of new people came in, and best of all… Mr. Franco even stuck around to help stock the Taco Bar.
So, when I saw the photo prompt for this week’s Haiku… for some reason, I thought of those Corned Beef and Cabbage Tacos, and my days working at the Town House.
About four months later, I left for the neon restaurant lights of Chicago. I later heard that the Town House had closed and that Franco was the chef at a seafood joint in Cape Cod. Last time I was in SacTown, it was a gay bar.
“Ethel!”, screams Cheryl.
“You didn’t stop!”
“At the corner, no stop.”
“Yes I did, I always stop at stop signs.”
“No, you were rolling, that doesn’t count as a stop. And the sign says stop.”
“Oh for God’s sake, Cheryl, don’t be so picky. That was enough of a stop. You never yell at Betty when she drives.”
“That’s because Betty always stops at signs. You made a California stop.”
“What are you talking about, we’re in Chicago?”
“That’s what they call a rolling stop. You rolled.”
Ethel sighs as she rolls thru the next stop.
February 7: Flash Fiction Challenge The prompt was ‘Signs’… 99 Words, no more, no less.
Send in the Clowns… 100 Words for FriFicSend in the clowns…
“Hey Cheryl it’s Ethel guess what?”
“Hi Ethel, what’s got you so excited today?”
“Guess what’s at the United Center?”
“OK, I’m waiting to guess, what is it!”
“You know I hate circuses!”
“But all the acts, the animals, the clowns are so exciting!”
“Especially the clowns, I don’t like clowns.”
“But these are special ones, the’re Okies, and they have red noses.”
‘Don’t all clowns have red noses? And what are okie clowns?”
“They’re clowns from the Ozarks.“
“Oh for God’s sake Ethel, Okies are from Oklahoma. Hey!!! Aren’t we supposed to be talking about Dale’s waterfalls today?”
With apologies to two of my favorite writers from the Ozarks.
Here’s a story I always liked…
“OF COURSE NOT, SILLY!”
“Until the day I die, I’ll never forget those glassy, unblinking eyes.” Her last words. She has been in a catatonic state since that day.
Elizabeth Grace had been a promising designer, and her sudden decline had been most disturbing to friends and colleagues.
After graduation, she had taken a position at Albrecht’s Department Store, as an assistant window dresser. She fared well under the tutelage of Miss Bethany, and advanced to first assistant in just months. Feathers had been ruffled.
It was just after Albrecht’s shipment of new mannequins arrived that it began. Elizabeth started talking to the old ones. People noticed. She had not done that before.
Hammered by younger hipper stores and internet shopping, Albrecht’s Department Store had been in decline for years, something had to be done. When Oswalt Albrecht III came on board, all department heads had been instructed to find…
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I do not reblog a lot of writer’s work, but I am so loving my friend Björn’s poem I wanted to share it.
The late Mrs. Emel Mackenzie
always came early to better
be able to notice
the lateness of others,
and hence at her funeral
the pews had started to fill
an hour before
the service had started,
but when she safely was buried —
A second Quadrille for Kim at dVerse.
October 22, 2018