Microcosms 149

Greetings, flashionistas, and welcome to Microcosms 149. If you are new to Microcosms, you are doubly welcome; but PLEASE don’t forget to read and digest ALL the information, especially that in the “Remember!” section below.

This week’s contest is based on actors/actresses who were born or who died on this day – 16-NOV.

BIRTHS

  • 1907 – Burgess Meredith, American actor: “Rocky” film series
  • 1928 – Clu Gulager, American actor: “The Virginian” (1964-68)
  • 1970 – Martha Plimpton, American actress: “Raising Hope” (2010-2014)
  • 1977 – Maggie Gyllenhaal, American actress: “The Honourable Woman” (2014)

DEATHS

  • 2008 – Reg Varney, English actor: “On The Buses” (1969-73)
  • 2009 – Edward Woodward, English actor: “The Equaliser” (1985-89)

Geoff

 

(If YOU have an idea for a future contest and would like to be a guest host, please contact us.)

 

Our contest this week begins with THREE things: character, location and genre.

We spun, and our three elements – character, location and genre – are:

Deputy Sheriff; Small Town; Crime

Write a story using those OR feel free to click on the “Spin!” button below, and the slot machine will come up with a new set – character, location and genre. You can keep clicking until you have a set of elements that inspires you.

REMEMBER!

(1) You have just 24 hours until midnight, today (Friday) New York time (EST) to write and submit your masterpiece.
(2) All submissions must be no more than 300 words in length (excluding the title)
(3) NO FAN-FICTION, please, and NO USE of COPYRIGHT CHARACTERS
(4) Include: word count, the THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry
(5) Do NOT give details of your entry on social media, your blog, etc. until the Results post is live
(6) If you are new to Microcosms, PLEASE check out the full submission guidelines 

 

  • Boxing Trainer
  • Deputy Sheriff
  • House Cleaner
  • Businesswoman
  • Bus Driver
  • Vigilante
  • Gym
  • Old West
  • Small Town
  • West Bank
  • Bus Depot
  • New York City
  • Diary
  • Western
  • Drama
  • Thriller
  • Comedy
  • Crime

 

Spin!

 
Last week’s Judge’s Pick, Tim Hayes, has kindly agreed to act as the judge this time around.

 

All being well, results will be posted next Monday.

Microcosms 150
Microcosms 148

Leave a Reply

66 comments for “Microcosms 149

  1. Alva Holland
    16 November 2018 at 1:10 am

    @Alva1206
    299 words
    Boxing Trainer; Gym; Diary

    A Life in the Week of…

    Monday: 09:00

    He cowers in the corner of the locker room.
    ‘Kid! You wanna be a boxer? No cowering.’
    He lifts his head, exposing a bruise the size of a tennis ball on his cheek.
    ‘You been practisin’, eh?’

    Tuesday: 09:00

    He limps ahead of me. I am unseen. He drops his pants to don his shorts. A large black mass spreads across his upper thigh.
    ‘No rogue fightin’, kid. You gotta stick with my programme.’

    Wednesday: 09:00

    Kid’s a no-show. I call his number. No reply. I call his house. Disconnected.

    Thursday: 09:00

    He arrives in his shorts. It’s -3 outside. He’s shivering. I throw him some track pants. Ask him why he wasn’t here yesterday. He says nothing.

    Friday: 09:00

    Car’s got a flat. Jesus! I call the kid. No answer.

    Friday 09:42

    The chain on the gym door’s been busted. I find him cowering in the corner of the locker room.
    ‘Kid! This aint gonna work.’ Then I see the blood, a constant slow drip from his head.
    ‘Jesus, kid, what’s going on?’
    ‘Not going back, never fucking going back.’

    Friday 09:55

    The uniform scares the shit outta the kid. He runs, tripping, dripping.
    ‘For chrissakes, kid, you need help.’ I pick him up. He winces under my touch. Everything about him hurts. I send the uniform away.

    Friday 22:30

    Kid is asleep on the couch, looks younger than his years.

    Friday 23:15

    The wife comes back from her mother’s. Looks at the kid. ‘WTF?’ she mouths.
    ‘We have to help him,’ I whisper.
    She folds a blanket over the broken boy. We go upstairs to bed.

    Saturday 06:15

    I hear the front door slam.
    Dammit to hell, kid.

    Sunday 17:56

    Doorbell rings. It’s the uniform. His eyes tell me what words cannot.

    Fuck!
    Fuck!
    Fuck!

    7+
    • 16 November 2018 at 12:33 pm

      Very punchy, Alva.

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        16 November 2018 at 3:02 pm

        Thanks, Bill. 🙂

        0
    • 16 November 2018 at 5:43 pm

      Whoa. All the things NOT said…

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        17 November 2018 at 12:29 am

        Thanks, Vicente. 🙂

        0
    • Geoff Holme
      17 November 2018 at 5:00 am

      Oh, Alva! You’re getting very good at this writing malarky. 😀

      2+
      • Alva Holland
        17 November 2018 at 9:29 am

        Thanks, Geoff! 🙂

        0
  2. 16 November 2018 at 1:12 am

    http://www.engleson.ca
    @billmelaterplea
    300 words
    Deputy Sheriff; Small Town; Crime

    Out by The Edge of Town

    Some shifts should never happen. This would be one of them. 6 pm to 6 am. I’d just dug into the best liver and onions in Waterford when I got the call.

    “A report of a body, Lou. Out by Jimmy Smail’s. Ambulance is on the way.”

    “Thanks, Claire,” I said. “Let Hank know. He may want to have a look. I’ll call him if I think he’ll need to get involved.”

    Hank’s the sheriff. Good guy to work for. Doesn’t look over your shoulder. Lets you do your work.

    Vonnie had Styrofoamed my meal. I paid up, walked out, got in the cruiser and drove out to the Smail’s farm.

    Zeke Smail founded Waterford back in 1890. His kinfolk had farmed ever since. Until Jimmy. Farming wasn’t Jimmy’s style. He just sort of drifted the way some souls do.

    It was just past 7:00 when I spotted the first responders, their red-light pulsing in the darkness of the mid November night. They were on the porch of the Smail farmhouse. Kit Grange and Nick. Nick was new. Recently assigned from somewhere else.

    I pulled into the yard, parked and got out.

    Kit came over. She grew up with Jimmy Smail. So did I. We both grew up to be functioning adults. Jimmy never did.

    Kit looked a little weepy. “Kit…?” I choked up.

    She nodded. “Yeah…overdose. Looks like an OD at any rate.”

    “Didn’t he…?”

    “Yeah,” she said. “Just finished a two-month detox over at Happy Valley.”

    “What a waste,” I said for about the eighth time in the last four months. “Fentanyl?”

    “Or Carfentanil. The last OD was Carfentanil, the coroner thinks.”

    “I just don’t get killing your customers,” I said. “Jimmy alone when…?”

    “Like he was already in the grave,” she started blubbering. “Only he didn’t know it.”

    3+
    • Alva Holland
      17 November 2018 at 12:57 am

      Oh boy! Love the buildup here, Bill.

      1+
  3. Frank Key
    16 November 2018 at 2:48 am

    @frankdaad
    298 words
    Deputy Sheriff; Small Town; Crime

    Pinned

    The local barber waved for her to pull over to the side of the residential street. Evie Astor was five minutes away from her driveway but she realized better than to ignore Floyd when he had something for her.

    “Sorry to interrupt your night like this, Deputy, but I swear I heard that dirt biker gang doing all kinds of mischief over by Sissy Thomas’ place. Just thought you’d like to know so you could call it in.”

    “Sure would love to call it in, Floyd, but since the on call officer is little old me, guess I’ll swing by there and see what’s up. No need to bother anyone else.”

    She watched as Mr. Herron went inside and shut the front door of his brown bungalow. She decided lights with no siren would be the best way to handle this, maybe scare them off without causing too much ruckus on a quiet Tuesday night. She placed the transmission into drive and turned left into the bungalow’s driveway in order to back out and reverse her course of direction.

    It was a roaring shot that pierced the rear window of her cruiser. The second shot penetrated the roof. About two seconds later, she felt the patrol car tilt as the front right tire was flattened. The fourth shot shattered the front window on the passenger side before disintegrating the laptop computer propped on its stand. Four seconds. Four shots. Evie Astor gripped the steering wheel and floored the accelerator. The tires spun wildly, but an unseen obstacle prevented the vehicle from moving.

    Evie stared ahead as an armed drone alit on the hood of her cruiser. Floyd Herron emerged from his house with a controller in his hands. He smiled. Deputy Astor didn’t survive the fifth shot.

    2+
    • Alva Holland
      17 November 2018 at 3:15 am

      Oh my goodness, this was breathtaking, Frank! Nice one.

      0
  4. Stephanie Cornelius
    16 November 2018 at 3:52 am

    @Ravenangel888
    299 words
    Bus Driver; Small Town; Thriller

    The Perks of Being a Road Follower

    Being a long-distance driver has its benefits. I was often the only person awake in the early hours of the morning. My headlights the only illumination. My passengers deep in Dreamland. At the most, they would wake up if we hit a bump in the road, but not always, and when they did they usually went back to sleep almost immediately. It’s amazing how well a little bit of sevoflurane in the air vents can keep the unruly masses calm. I’m sure many of them were surprised by how well they slept. I always made sure my cubical was airtight before a trip. Can’t be dozing off on the job. I might kill someone.

    I caught a glimpse of a figure in the distance on the side of the road. If they hadn’t been wearing white, I wouldn’t have noticed them in the surrounding darkness. A quick glance behind me was enough to confirm all were asleep on the bus. I turned to face the road once again. The figure on the road was clearer now, a young female in a white dress. I had a brief moment of fear, remembering the universal Urban Legend of the Bride on the side of the Road, or South Africa’s own Ghost of Uniondale.

    The bus swerved a little, but I quickly compensated and got the bus back on the desired course. We reached the area where the person had originally been standing. I wondered what her story was. Had she ever thought that she would be run over by a bus, outside a small Karoo town, on a dark night? Did she ever think that she would be death number 35 in my mental ledger? That her death would remain an unexplained hit-and-run? Being a long-distance bus driver has its rewards.

    3+
    • 16 November 2018 at 5:57 pm

      That is creepy as hell!

      1+
      • stephanie cornelius
        19 November 2018 at 8:44 am

        I’m glad 🙂 Although, not sure what it says about my psyche lol

        0
    • Alva Holland
      17 November 2018 at 3:16 am

      Downright scary! Excellently done, Stephanie.

      1+
      • stephanie cornelius
        19 November 2018 at 8:49 am

        Thanks 🙂 I took inspiration from that old Road Runner cartoon where the RR hits Wiley Coyote with a train and then stamps a coyote stamp on the side of the train… Actually… A lot of my favourite Disney and WB cartoons had similar tropes lol

        0
  5. 16 November 2018 at 7:35 am

    @geofflepard
    300 words
    House Cleaner; New York City; Western

    The Little House on Fifth

    Fifth Avenue apartments were the plum cleaning jobs. All on one level, lift accessible, and no one about to get in the way. So why had Marita been given this assignment? The slip said the owner was Red Ballantyne. She was to deep clean the kitchen and bathroom, remake the beds, dust the living room and then walk the family pet.
    She stepped into the apartment and stopped. The floors were covered with sand, the hatstand was a many-armed cactus and the automatic lighting reminded her of sunrises over her native desert.
    She smiled. No vacuuming then.
    Her first shock was the kitchen: no state-of-the-art stove, but rather a proper wood range. The coffee pot steamed and the blackened cooking pots were crusted with beans and stew. A bucket and hand pump replaced a conventional sink.
    Curious now, she checked the bathroom. No power shower for Red; instead he had a tin bath above which hung an old can, stippled with holes. She looked for the toilet and spied a trench in he floor with a pine bench in front. Leaning over, the water automatically flowed, disappearing heaven knew where.
    The sitting room furniture was minimal and set to look like wagons circling an open fire in the middle. The master bedroom lacked a traditional bed; in its place were a series of straw mattresses. On rails to one side hung assorted cowboy and cowgirl gear: jeans, checked shirts, fancy buckled belts and leather chaps.
    It was the second bedroom that decided her. A palomino pony stood, tied to a rail, chewing on a bag of oats. Next to the pony hung the largest pooper scooper she’d seen.
    Marita sighed and pulled on her rubber gloves. The money was good and this was New York. Why should she be surprised?

    4+
    • 16 November 2018 at 6:26 pm

      ROFL, there I was thinking… Western? Western?

      0
    • Geoff Holme
      17 November 2018 at 1:04 am

      An East Coast Western? Only from the fertile mind of GLP! 😉 The film ‘City Slickers’ springs to mind.
      [ ‘Leaning over, the water automatically flowed, disappearing heaven knew where.’ begins with a dangling participle — the only thing that can be leaning over is the water. 🙁 ]

      0
    • Alva Holland
      17 November 2018 at 3:28 am

      The sheer imagination of this! Wonderful story, Geoff.

      0
  6. 16 November 2018 at 10:03 am

    @j_writes_stuff
    300 words
    Deputy Sheriff; Small Town; Crime

    Double Take

    “This ain’t CSI: Las Vegas, Maggie. The bartender says he was there. No need to go through hours of surveillance footage.”

    The sheriff dropped in a desk chair opposite his deputy.

    “Yeah Ed, but this ain’t Criminal Minds either,” Maggie replied without turning away from her computer. “When the wife’s murdered, it’s usually the husband, who’s dun it.”

    On her screen, a figure wearing a baseball hat and dark clothes stood up from a corner table and walked out of the picture.

    “It’s seven twenty-eight, if he leaves now, he could be at the house in fifteen, murder his wife ’round eight, and be back quarter past,” Maggie commented. “Town’s small enough. Maybe the bartender was distracted.”

    Ed looked at her screen. For three minutes they stared at footage of a dimly lit bar. Then the figure returned.

    “Congratulations, Maggie. You discovered bathroom breaks.”

    The figure on the screen grabbed for his beer. Maggie did a double take. She scrolled back through the footage. Then forward. Then back again.

    “Remember the coroner said the murderer is left-handed?” Maggie asked, and pointed at the screen.

    “He holds the glass with his left hand,” Ed observed. “So what if he’s left-handed? He’s still in the bar the whole night.”

    “That’s before the bathroom break. Look what happens afterwards.”

    Maggie scrolled forward. The figure returned from the bathroom and grabbed the glass with his right hand.

    “At eight twenty he’s on another bathroom break. And then this.”

    She stopped scrolling and the figure returned the empty glass to the bar, carrying it in his left hand.

    “Whoever is there between the first and second bathroom break is right-handed. That’s not him. He switched places with someone!”

    Ed shook his head.

    “Woman, I take back what I said. Maybe this is CSI after all.”

    8+
    • Alva Holland
      17 November 2018 at 3:35 am

      You’re a screenwriter, Johanna! This is so good. 🙂

      0
      • Johanna
        17 November 2018 at 9:03 am

        Oh, thank you, you’re so kind.

        0
  7. 16 November 2018 at 10:16 am

    @alysia_ascovani
    300 words
    Bus Driver; New York City; Crime

    Destitution’s Defender

    The city lights flickered dimly as the bus trundled by. Empty but for two people: a young man gripping the wheel, a baseball bat his closest companion, and an older woman, dressed in rags, sleeping in the back of the bus. The young man’s eyes scanned the sidewalks lining the streets, searching through the shadows. He stopped beside a bench, and got off the bus to help the older man huddled there into the little warmth and shelter his bus could provide.

    For hours, the bus patrolled the streets, no longer empty. As it passed below the Empire State Building, the young man slammed on the brakes. He saw a girl hidden in the tall shadow, her clothes half torn off, struggling to free herself from the grasp of a burly, middle-aged man.

    The world blurred as he darted off the bus, baseball bat in hand. In what felt like seconds, he climbed back into the bus, leading the girl gently by the hand. As she sat down, he handed her a blanket, a tear in the corner of his eye. She refused to meet his eyes, curling under the blanket in her seat.

    He stood there for a second longer, a hand half-stretched towards her, before it fell as he walked back to his seat. Replacing his bat in its honored place, he glanced back out the window of the bus. Mangled on the ground, he saw the other man’s body, painted red and black. A wide grin split his solemn features, even as tears trickled down his cheeks.

    Reaching over, he pulled out a small notepad and pen. Flipping through, he turned to the last page which was filled with tally marks. His hand shook as another mark joined all the rest.

    Twenty-one times he’d been too late.

    3+
    • 16 November 2018 at 10:34 am

      That should say “Building” instead of “Builing”, sorry.

      0
    • 16 November 2018 at 6:29 pm

      That. Last. Line.

      0
      • 16 November 2018 at 8:04 pm

        It actually put me over 300 words, but I knew I needed to end it that way, and I wound up changing another sentence instead. I’m glad it had an impact like I hoped it would.

        0
    • Alva Holland
      17 November 2018 at 12:28 am

      Oh, this is a beauty, Alysia. Gorgeous.

      0
  8. Susan O'Reilly
    16 November 2018 at 11:02 am

    @SusanOReilly3
    298 words
    Businesswoman; Gym; Comedy

    Working Out

    I’m a successful businesswoman and also a good mum. Life was good. Until the hubby refused an offering of said businesswoman and mum in the bedroom. Loudly and allowing no argument refused to do his husbandly duties. He said he was tired and that I looked knackered myself. I don’t know about you, but the best sleep I get is after a good bedroom session.
    That night, I lay awake brooding. He has never said no so forcefully before. He’s lost interest, he doesn’t fancy me anymore, and he’s seeing someone else. Scenarios running haphazardly through my mind. I give up on sleep and go look in the mirror. I don’t look half bad for my age, work and the kids keep me busy. Oh maybe it’s my pelvic floor, that’s it, the only exercise it gets is when I cough, I often have to run in case of leakage.
    There’s no gym with specific exercises for down there, not that I know of. I work for a company that invents stuff, but there’s no way I’m going to bring this up. A discreet exerciser for down there, I bet they exist but any I’ve seen have been anything but discreet. It wouldn’t be visible panty line I’d be worried about, but visible pelvic exerciser. It doesn’t even bear thinking about.
    I go and get my computer and try and Google such contraptions. Most of the advice that I can manage time wise, is when going to the loo, holding it as long as I can before letting go, and squatting if possible. A banana and gripping tight is another one. I tried this it worked and I had a lovely sleep. Hubby’s face when he came to make it up to me and saw his rival, priceless.

    2+
  9. Lesley Turrell
    16 November 2018 at 11:07 am

    298 words
    Deputy Sheriff; Small Town; Crime

    A Dog Called Sam

    The deep resonant bark the other side of door terrifies her. Mind you, so much is scary now. Her legs twitch while she sleeps, as if she is running away.
    ‘Hi. We’ve come to rent your farm bungalow.’
    ‘Sam, down.’ The short woman with cropped hair restrains the enormous alsatian. ‘Come in. Let him smell you.’
    Reluctantly, Dodie does so. She tries not to show her fear, even lets him lick her. ’Hello, Sam.’
    ‘You’re British!’
    ‘Yes, it’s our first time in Walden.’
    ‘I’m Gloria, the deputy sheriff. How do you like our little town?’
    ‘Cute. I love the library and the copper still in the coffee shop window. Weird there’s no pavements.’
    ‘Sidewalks.’
    This New York State’s more rural than I thought. Have you always been in the police?’
    ‘No. I worked in the school, but I took up weight-training and put on all this muscle. I worked in New York City for a bit but, when this job came up, I jumped at it.’
    ‘And Sam?’
    ‘He’s a drugs dog. Don’t tell everyone but he’s soft as butter.’
    ‘Come on, Dodie. Sam and I will show you the bungalow and get you settled in.’

    Three months later, Dodie sees a gigantic pickup arrive. Gloria goes to the rear and hefts the dog up in her arms. ‘Oh, is Sam hurt?’
    ‘Just a flesh wound.’
    ‘He was shot?’ Dodie is surprised to find tears on her cheek. Sam had long ceased to be scary.
    ‘We were following the helicopter looking for cannabis growing hidden in the centre of the corn fields. The stupid druggies shot him, trying to slow me down. We got ’em though.’
    ‘You need a drink.’
    ‘Come in and have some moonshine.’
    ‘Isn’t that illegal?’
    ‘The still’s in the cafe window, hiding in plain sight.’

    2+
    • Alva Holland
      17 November 2018 at 3:47 am

      Fabulous, Lesley.

      0
      • L
        18 November 2018 at 11:10 am

        Really good theme this week, so there have been some cracking stories. Loved reading them all. I’m glad I don’t have to choose. A sparkling bunch of flash writers.

        0
  10. Ted Young
    16 November 2018 at 12:49 pm

    263 words
    Deputy Sheriff; Small Town; Crime

    Fastest Draw in the West

    Wee Angus McKellen never met his uncle Billy; after all, Billy lived in Thunder Bay, Ontario … Wee Angus lived in Tilbury, Essex.

    Every Christmas, birthday — and even some Easters — parcels would arrive with Canadian stamps on them. All the gifts were Wild West goodies, Buffalo Bill annuals and the like; but three wonderful gifts followed Angus through his childhood, into his teenage and even his working years.

    ‘The badge’ … a shiny silver star with edging and ‘Deputy Sheriff’ picked out in gold.
    The rhinestone-covered belt and holster with a full-sized Colt 45 replica in it.
    Lastly, a plaster cast hoofprint from ‘Trigger’, Roy Rogers’ horse. But that didn’t follow Angus far; he swapped it for a poster of Brigitte Bardot when puberty got the better of him!

    Angus practiced his draw for hours in front of the full-length mirror on his wardrobe, convinced that sometimes he got a shot off before his reflection could!

    But how could such a skill be of any use to the West Country fisherman Angus became?

    One trip to sea, as the rope ‘snaked’ and whipped along the deck, ‘shooting away’ at full speed, Angus heard a thud and a yell, and saw the Skipper sliding dangerously towards the stern, the rope tangled round his leg. Like lightning, Angus’ Green River knife was out of its sheath and through the rope, setting the Skipper free.

    “Thanks Angus.”

    “Don’t thank me, thank Roy Rogers.”

    OK, so no crime was committed here. But in the small town fishing community, cutting gear loose is always considered a cardinal sin.

    4+
    • Alva Holland
      17 November 2018 at 3:45 am

      Oh I love this, Ted! Cracking analogies and brilliant ending.

      0
      • Ted young
        17 November 2018 at 9:01 am

        Thanks Al a.
        Peace & Love

        1+
      • Ted young
        17 November 2018 at 11:23 am

        Sorry Alva, I don’t know where the ‘V’ went.
        Thanks again.

        1+
    • Ted young
      17 November 2018 at 11:25 am

      Sorry Alva, I don’t know where the ‘V’ went.
      Thanks again.

      0
  11. Deanna Salser
    16 November 2018 at 1:40 pm

    @beadanna7
    300 words
    Deputy Sheriff; Small Town; Crime

    Who’s Your Daddy?

    Barney could feel the hot pavement baking his feet through the soles of his boots, as he crouched beside his bronco in the blazing sun. He rose up just a hair, feeling the muscles of his thighs protest as he surveyed the street and sidewalk, squinting to see through the bright summer air. A sudden blinding flash revealed his location as his badge reflected the sun in a bright star of light. He ducked instinctively, and heard the zing of a bullet passing close by, feeling the breeze in his hair as his hat sailed off into the weeds. Maniacal laughter echoed off of brick and concrete, seeming to come from every direction at once.
    “You’ll have to do better than that, Tanner!” he shouted, cocking his head to listen for clues to where the man was.
    “I just want what’s mine!” came back from somewhere to his right.
    Barney snorted, shaking his head. Tanner, Tanner. Was the man that stupid? Didn’t he realize Barney knew him, knew what was going on inside his head? They’d grown up together, went to the same schools, the same church.
    “I do appreciate a man with conviction!” he shouted, moving to his left. “But his mother swears he’s mine!” He darted across the street, and fetching up against a corner, peered around it to see the other man’s back as he crept toward Barney’s rig with a gun held ready in one hand. A small child hung from his other arm, head and limbs dangling limply. Barney drew in his breath at the sight, holding it for fear he would give himself away. Tears threatened, as his features screwed themselves into an expression of rage. If that lowlife had hurt his son, he would bring him all the way down to the ground.

    2+
    • Deanna Salser
      16 November 2018 at 5:11 pm

      Geoff, can you please italicize the words within the asterisks? I wish I knew more about HTML.

      0
    • Alva Holland
      17 November 2018 at 3:43 am

      Great setting, Deanna. Nicely done.

      1+
      • Deanna Salser
        17 November 2018 at 1:02 pm

        Thank you, Alva! You’re very sweet. I have been working on show, not tell.

        0
  12. 16 November 2018 at 2:56 pm

    @VicenteLRuiz
    291 words
    Deputy Sheriff; Small Town; Western

    High Noon

    A strong wind blew down from the mountains, scouring Barren Creek’s main street. A couple of tumbleweeds rolled across it. One caught in the trough by the saloon. A crow cawed in the distance.

    Zeb McCarthy stood in the middle of the street, waiting.

    He didn’t wait long.

    A figure appeared three houses down the street, to his right, and walked slowly until they stood in front of each other. A star glinted in the figure’s chest.

    “Zeb McCarthy, you’re under arrest! You’ll come with me, dead or alive. And I don’t give a damn one way or the other.”

    McCarthy laughed. The cheek of the man! That his bullet hadn’t finished him last week was a miracle; his being here now, defiant, was amusing.

    Then a gust of wind ran down the street, and the sheriff’s hat blew away.

    What he saw froze Zeb’s blood in his veins. A head full of blonde hair.

    ****

    “Alice, no!”

    “I have to do it. Someone has to stop McCarthy.”

    “Not… not you…”

    “Look at yourself! I’ve done all I could, but I don’t know if you’ll survive that wound.”

    “Thank… you…”

    “I’m not going to start lying to you now. And I’m going to finish him myself.”

    “Wait…”

    “No, I’m doing it. Now. He’s waiting.”

    “No… If you’re going to… to do it… then… do it right…”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Here… Take this. I… I name you… deputy sheriff of Barren Creek, Alice Eleanor Halfpenny.”

    ****

    “You!” McCarthy said.

    “Yes, it’s me. Come on, Zeb McCarthy, what’s it gonna be?”

    He moved towards his revolver.

    A shot rang out.

    Alice stood, just like she was a moment before.

    Slowly, McCarthy knelt. A red stain spread from his chest.

    “I… I didn’t… see her… move…”

    3+
    • 16 November 2018 at 3:00 pm

      Oh, my… Geoff, as soon as I posted, I saw that I forgot (even in my own draft) to add Alice before her full name, so it’s “Alice Eleanor Halfpenny”. And the word count goes then up to 291. Can you please fix that?

      Sorry sorry sorry!

      0
      • Geoff Holme
        16 November 2018 at 4:10 pm

        “A woman’s gotta do…” Great take on the elements, Vicente.

        [ I made the amendment you requested. However, towards the end of the story you have ‘Eleanor stood, just like she was a moment before.’ Should it be ‘Alice’, rather than ‘Eleanor’?
        Also, should the title be ‘High Noon’, rather than ‘HIgh Noon’? ]

        1+
    • Alva Holland
      17 November 2018 at 12:25 am

      I feel like I want to steal this name – Alice Eleanor Halfpenny! But I won’t.
      Super story, Vicente.

      1+
  13. 16 November 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Oh yes and yes… Perhaps I should have tried random names instead! Where’s the facepalm when one needs it?

    0
  14. Marsha Adams
    16 November 2018 at 5:03 pm

    @marshawritesit
    300 words
    Boxing Trainer; Gym; Diary

    Hitting On The Break

    May 3
    Joolz still drops her right on the cross. She knows it. Her shoulder dips and it doesn’t matter whether she connects because she’s left herself open. I try to talk to her about it and I can’t. When I didn’t see the punch, didn’t see anything except the way her hair falls and her skin gleams with sweat, what can I say to her? She’s going to fire me, hire a man who can keep his eyes on the prize. She’s a prospect, a genuine contender, and I’m failing her. And she knows it.

    May 4
    She asked me to massage her because she had a date and wanted me to loosen her up. What the hell’s that about? The club’s got a physio, he’d have been better, but she asked me.
    She knows. She’s taunting me.

    May 5
    Roadwork, me and her on lonely country lanes. I nearly made a move, which would have been beyond stupid. I’m still strong but she’s got twenty years on me; if I’d laid a hand on her she’d have demolished me. So I just watched her ass for four miles. She kept stopping and stretching, bending over in skin-tight pants while I tried to say something motivational. It’s deliberate, it has to be. She knows. I’d rather she fired me than keep torturing me like that.

    May 6
    She fired me. Said there was a “conflict of interest”, how she needed to separate professional from personal. I’m an idiot, I should have quit as soon as I fell for her. No one will hire me now. I’m finished.

    May 7
    I am an idiot. After my workout she followed me into the changing room and knelt at my feet. Called me “Mistress”.
    She wants me to train her.

    2+
    • 16 November 2018 at 6:40 pm

      The twist caught me off-guard (ha!) and then I saw it was you! 🙂

      0
    • Alva Holland
      17 November 2018 at 12:23 am

      This is a cracker, Marsha. Great take on the elements too.

      0
  15. Angelique Pacheco
    16 November 2018 at 5:34 pm

    220 words
    Deputy Sheriff; Small Town; Crime

    Them’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles

    Deputy Sheriff. Second best. He was basically a nobody. That’s what he was. Everyone knew it. They all pretended to be happy for him, but they were all laughing behind his back. He’d show them who ruled the roost in this small town.

    His plan was simple. Kill the sheriff, take his place as the law keeper and the number one person in town. It would be simple really. Being a small town, everyone knew everyone else’s business. So, there would be no surprises.

    He killed the Sheriff while patrolling his area. It was so easy. The sheriff didn’t want to drive, so he agreed to patrol on foot. He had the patrol car. It was easy to swerve slightly and clip the Sheriff as he was walking near the cliff. He saw the surprise on his face as he fell to his untimely death. He giggled a bit at the rush that coursed through his body. But his jaw dropped when he walked into the jailhouse later to see the Sheriff sitting there larger than life.

    The sheriff looked at him and drawled, “Bet you didn’t know I had a twin, did ya, sonny? Now you’ve killed two birds with one stone. Never did like that twin of mine! You’ll always be second best here.”

    The deputy sheriff sulked.

    3+
    • Alva Holland
      17 November 2018 at 12:22 am

      Love it! Nice one, Angelique.

      0
  16. 16 November 2018 at 6:48 pm

    @The_Red_Fleece
    250 words
    Boxing Trainer; Gym; Diary

    Morgan

    It was Morgan who first compared me to a priest. I laughed at the idea. I’m a boxing trainer, not a holy man.
    “Because, Father,” (the F-word so emphasised it has stuck with me ever since) “you bring people to the same place every week to make them better.”
    On the most simple level he was right and on a more complicated one too. We did more than boxing at my gym. If I’m the father to my flock, what does that make Morgan?
    A failure feels harsh, very harsh. Yes, he was the best boxer who entered my four walls. Raw power with a right hook closer to a polar bear than a bee. He could dance with a butterfly too. Yet he never got a shot at a prize, any prize.
    A bad one? Hardly. I’ve had much worse kids. He didn’t meet the standards set by others at the top. Didn’t dress right, didn’t speak right. All those kinds of things.
    Unlucky? For sure. He dabbled in stuff he shouldn’t have, but so has everyone else who has come through my door. As long as he stopped when I caught, I didn’t care.
    The problem was I didn’t catch him. The cops did. A black boy with drugs … only going to end one way. He’s a brass plaque now. One of many. His gloves hang off the top right corner. I tap them with the bottom of my fist. How we always end our sparring sessions.

    1+
    • Alva Holland
      17 November 2018 at 12:18 am

      The human element in this story shines out. Well done, Stephen. Love this.

      0
      • Stephen Shirres
        17 November 2018 at 4:22 am

        Thanks Alva. Very kind of you

        0
    • Geoff Holme
      17 November 2018 at 12:26 am

      Poignant stuff, Stephen. Good to have you back.
      [ You went with ‘Diary’ as the genre, but it’s not really apparent that that is what we have here. Also, in the last paragraph, you have ‘He a brass plaque now.’ What should that be? ]

      0
      • Stephen Shirres
        17 November 2018 at 4:22 am

        My plan was the writing would feel like a diary. The back and forth and trying to work out his feeling about Morgan’s situation. If it needs a date stamp at the top however then please add one.

        The second is just a missing ‘s on the he. Could you please add it for me so it reads ‘He’s a brass plaque now’.

        Thanks

        0
  17. Arianna Hammond
    16 November 2018 at 9:44 pm

    299 words
    Businesswoman; New York City; Thriller

    Too Many Sounds, Even For New York

    I know I’m going to be late to the bus stop, so I quicken my pace.

    My heels click down the sidewalk pavement, and I grumble with each step. The curse of working in an office means that your feet swell, and all you want to do is go home and put them up. Along with some wine, of course.

    Stopping at the crosswalk, I wait for the signal to change. A couple of impatient pedestrians busy their way across when no cars are in sight, but I’d rather wait the five seconds then spend hours in a hospital, or longer in a grave.
    I check my watch. The little hands read that I have ten minutes to get to the hub. Before it’s too late.
    A horn beeps from the road, but I don’t pay any mind. Beeping happens all the time here. But then the beeping is followed by a yell, and I know. Oh hell, I know this scenario.
    “HEY GIRL! HOW YOU DOIN’?” I don’t turn or react. This happens often.
    Another beep.
    I pray for the crossing signal to change.
    “YOU LOOK NICE IN THAT SKIRT!”
    Yeah. I know I look good in this skirt. Professionally. But I don’t need random creeps shouting out their window to tell me.

    The signal changes, and I walk across. Their light changes too and they drive off.

    A whistle seers into my ears. Classic wolf whistle.
    I don’t make eye contact with the guy walking opposite.
    “Hey,” another guy says.
    I’m almost there.
    Feet up. Wine. Think about that.

    Elevator eyes all around. They scare me. Make me feel like meat.

    “Hey.”

    “Ooh!”

    “Hi.”

    “Where you goin’?”

    Whistle.

    Beep!

    I want to cry.
    I stop where I am and watch as the bus zooms past me.

    “Hey.”

    Beep!

    2+
    • Alva Holland
      17 November 2018 at 12:20 am

      Excellently done, Arianna. All too common.

      1+
      • Arianna Hammond
        17 November 2018 at 9:51 am

        Thank you, Alva. 🙂
        Sadly, that is the case. All we wanna do is get home and put our feet up…

        0
  18. Geoff Holme
    17 November 2018 at 12:06 am

    @GeoffHolme
    198 words
    Deputy Sheriff; Old West; Comedy

    New Mexican Standoff

    Jedediah Noone, mayor of Smallville, New Mexico waved his hands as he stepped in front of the buckboard carrying the former deputy sheriff Will Caine and his bride to a new life together in another town.
    “Howdy, Will … Amy.”
    “Hi, Noone. What can I do for you?”
    “Just heard how that no-good ornery outlaw Frank Diller got paroled. He’s headed here on the train with his gang, intent on revenge.”
    “You’re arguing with a wooden Injun, Mayor. I’m retired. I’m just an ordinary member of the public now.”
    “You may be just a citizen, Caine, but it’s you that sent Diller to jail … you he’s a-comin’ after.”
    “Ain’t my problem. Giddy up, Rosebud!”
    Noone grabbed the horse’s bridle. “The Diller gang are gonna be as mad as a box of frogs when they get to Smallville and find you ain’t here. We still aint got a lawman to replace you yet.”
    “You better hightail it over to Arizona lickety-split then,” said Caine, impatiently shaking his horse’s reins.
    “I cain’t,” wailed the mayor. “The train’s been cancelled.”
    Caine turned his head and yelled, “Then you’ve only one alternative … the 3:10 Replacement Stagecoach Service to Yuma.”

    2+
    • 17 November 2018 at 1:15 pm

      Ah, Geoff, there but for the Grace Kelly of God go I. You clearly had a super buoyant time raising caine to a higher than a kite art. Yuma hero.

      0
      • Geoff Holme
        17 November 2018 at 1:42 pm

        Thanks, Bill. I was beginning to think that this parody had gone over everyone’s head; but we can always rely on your encyclopedic knowledge of monochrome classic movies.

        0
      • Ted young
        18 November 2018 at 1:52 pm

        Got it now, I think.
        Deep joy.

        0
      • Geoff Holme
        19 November 2018 at 7:11 am

        Thanks, Ted. As I told you on Sunday, the punning clues are all there.

        { For the benefit of anyone who is still wondering where the laughs are in this ‘comedy’ entry, it’s a parody of the classic western, “High Noon” [ ‘Hi, Noone.’] whose main character is called ‘Will Kane’. So there’s a nod to another black and white classic “Citizen Kane” [‘….citizen, Caine…’] whose eponymous hero’s final deathbed utterance is “Rosebud”, but no-one [Noone… no, I just made that up!] knows who or what Rosebud refers to. It ends with a feeble joke referencing another classic western “3:10 to Yuma“. }

        0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.