Microcosms 153

Hi, flash fiction buddies, and welcome to Microcosms 153.

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 

 

Today — 13-OCT — is the anniversary of the death in 2003 of British-Irish actor Peter O’Toole. He holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations for acting without a win — a staggering eight in all — including:

  • 1962 — “Lawrence of Arabia”
  • 1968 — “The Lion in Winter”
  • 1969 — “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”
  • 1972 — “The Ruling Class”
  • 1980 — “The Stunt Man”
  • 1982 — “My Favorite Year”

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 are:

Washed-up Actor; Mediterranean Cruise; Romance

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.

 

  • Army Officer
  • King
  • Schoolmaster
  • Paranoid Schizophrenic
  • Film Director
  • Washed-up Actor
  • Arabian Peninsula
  • French Chateau at Christmas
  • Mediterranean Cruise
  • Ancestral Home
  • Film Set
  • 1950s TV Studio
  • Action
  • Historical Drama
  • Romance
  • Comedy
  • Anti-War Drama
  • Memoir

 

Spin!

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

 
All being well, results will be posted next Monday.

Microcosms 156
Microcosms 152

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31 comments for “Microcosms 153

  1. 14 December 2018 at 12:53 am

    http://www.engleson.ca
    @billmelaterplea
    300 words
    Washed-up Actor; Mediterranean Cruise; Romance

    The Final Ride

    Yeah! If I’ve gotta be honest, they stopped calling me about ’67. I’d done mostly oaters up to then. Started in the late thirties with a bit part in a Hoppy movie, The Hills of Old Wyoming. I ended up on the cutting room floor in that one, but they liked my work, so I got called back. Man, they cranked them out like counterfeit bills back then. I made good money, not star moolah, you understand, but enough to live a decent life. Sold real estate on the side…did whatever I had to.

    By the mid sixties, the old Hollywood west was all dried up. Eastwood had set a new bar. An Italian bar, so I traipsed after him.

    I got some work but, man, they didn’t need me.

    It’s tough to realize that it’s all over. To cheer me up, I decided to float around the Mediterranean for a while; signed on to a private cruise ship, tiny little bugger with a dozen passengers. I done some sailing in and around Catalina, even crewed for Bogie a couple of times, so I knew my way around. Odd group who chartered the Sophia, mostly aging teachers from Ohio.

    Ladies each and every one.

    It was a beautiful summer. Four weeks of pulling into little ports, helping the passengers with shopping, telling tales, bragging a bit, I suppose. Pumped up my resumé a tad. There was one, Lucille, a real Hopalong Cassidy fan, or so she said.

    I know… there was supposed to be a non-fraternization policy, but it was 1969, Italy, Spain, France. Man, Lucille had forty-five years of pent-up Ohioan passion. And me…I knew I was heading out the final chute and there was no turning back.

    I could handle dying in Oberlin, Ohio.

    Maybe even living there.

    3+
    • Alva Holland
      14 December 2018 at 2:24 am

      Love it, Bill. Particularly your use of favourite words like ‘moolah’ and ‘traipsing’ – not just for the Irish then!

      1+
  2. Alva Holland
    14 December 2018 at 2:15 am

    @Alva1206
    300 words
    Washed-up Actor; Mediterranean Cruise; Romance

    Two of Three Chairs

    ‘Is this deckchair taken?’

    ‘No, it’s still there.’ Her eyes smarted as she shielded them from the hot Mediterranean sun.

    ‘Oh, very funny,’ he said, between two minds as to whether he’d move on to the next trio of chairs or take a chance on this comedian.

    He sat down. She searched her bag for her shades which covered half her face when she donned them.

    ‘Please don’t feel you have to talk to me,’ he said.

    ‘Don’t worry, I feel no obligation whatsoever,’ she sighed as she returned to her book.

    He glanced around at the half-empty deck, visualising a scene from his latest flop, where questionable dialogue was written by half-baked writers and poorly directed by a wannabe mogul.

    ‘I could write a scene for this, for you, if you’re interested?’

    ‘I could make a scene, right here, for you, if you even try,’ she said with a scowl.

    Clearly, he’d have to change tack. ‘You look vaguely familiar,’ he said, with a nod towards her book.

    ‘I don’t do vague, and I’m trying to read. Do you mind?’

    ‘Sorry.’

    Two power walkers rushed by, creating a welcome breeze. He watched the coordinated movement of their legs and hips as they negotiated the round of the deck. They reminded him of a time when his life was more structured, when he was part of a neighbourhood, not a permanently shifting stage, when mornings were filled with routine. Did he ever think he’d miss routine?

    ‘I’m finished with acting,’ he said with a slow nod.

    ‘Doesn’t seem like it to me,’ she said as she pulled her towel over her legs.

    ‘Aren’t you hot?’ he asked.

    ‘Aren’t you annoying?’ she barbed.

    He stood up.

    She lowered her glasses.

    ‘See you later, perhaps,’ she said.

    ‘Maybe,’ he said, acting again.

    5+
    • Alva Holland
      14 December 2018 at 6:36 am

      Hi Geoff, Just noticed a typo on the second line.
      Should read ‘as she shielded them’…
      Thanks!

      0
    • 14 December 2018 at 12:11 pm

      great dialogue, Alva, and the promise of so much more waiting in the wings of flash…

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        14 December 2018 at 1:44 pm

        Thanks, Bill!

        0
    • Deanna Salser
      14 December 2018 at 1:13 pm

      Loved that! It flowed so beautifully!

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        14 December 2018 at 1:44 pm

        Thanks, Deanna!

        1+
  3. Steve Lodge
    14 December 2018 at 7:30 am

    @steveweave71
    299 words
    Film Director; 1950s TV studio; Comedy

    Return Of The Monster

    “Good evening. We’re kicking off 1955 with a new show. Welcome to ‘What’s On Your Coffee Table?’ I’m Justin Credible, and each week, a guest celebrity will tell us what they are reading at the moment. Quite literally, ‘What’s On Your Coffee Table?’ Tonight, my guest is world-famous actor and activist, Vincent Spies, currently appearing in the West End musical revival of ‘Do You Mind Awfully?’ with Lew Stools. So-o-o, Vincent, what’s on your coffee table?”

    “Good evening, Justin. I’m currently reading two books, and very exciting they are in their own way. Firstly, I’m reading ‘Fell Between The Cushions’ by Hoyt E Toytee and Ronald Crump, following their highly successful first collaboration, ‘Unusual Folklore and Legends’. It’s powerful and gritty, relating the ups and downs of a family who keep a baby otter as a pet. My friend, the actor Roland Butter, lent me the book, but told me the ending, which has spoilt it a bit for me. The clown.”

    “And the other one, Vincent?”

    “’Laying Your Dining Table For Guests From Belzon’ by Soren Rodvang.”

    “My, that sounds very specific, Vincent.”

    “It is specific. I was attracted to it, as I’m a huge fan of Soren’s great uncle, the German film director, Uwe Golem, who made vampire movies in Belzon in the 1920s. Sadly, only ‘Return Of The Monster’ survived. The others were probably destroyed during the Civil War. My grandfather, Ragnar Spies appeared in this movie and others Golem made in Belzon, our home country.

    “Soren’s book doesn’t stop at setting the table. It lists interesting Belzon dishes to try out on your guests and which songs to sing between courses. He suggests which soups go with which juggling act and the precise etiquette regarding post-dinner dancing and wife-swapping. I am enjoying it hugely.”

    1+
  4. Deanna Salser
    14 December 2018 at 10:19 am

    @beadanna7
    300 words
    Washed-up Actor; Mediterranean Cruise; Romance

    One To Tell The Grandkids

    Nick took another sip of his drink, lowering his glass just in time to catch her making eyes at him again. He knew what she was thinking; he looked familiar but she couldn’t place him. He almost turned away when she smiled at him. A sweet, shy little smile, with a flip of her lashes, wow, was she flirting with him? He smiled back and raised his glass to her, signaling to the ubiquitous waiter at the same time. That was the best thing about these cruises, they spoiled the hell out of you. Plus he’d needed to get away from all the paparazzi, shoving their mics in his face every time he went outside, as if he were really going to explain to them, on camera, about his career, or lack thereof.
    Nick felt a warm hand on his arm and looked up, startled, to find a pair of large brown eyes mere inches from his own. He swallowed, her nearness making him perspire. It had been longer than he would like to admit.
    “Hi.” Her voice was husky and soft, and his knees were suddenly made of water.
    “Hello.” God, where was his sophistication now? He sounded like a schoolboy, with his voice breaking like that.
    “I’m Jill.” Was her voice trembling? Oh God, that was precious! And she smelled amazing. He inhaled deeply.
    “Nick. Nick Terelli.” He was so nervous, he almost offered her his hand. She smiled up into his eyes, bringing him up to the level of the clouds.
    “I know,” she said, lowering her eyes demurely. “I’ve long admired your work.” This almost a whisper. Her cheeks were flaming. The warmth from her hand was slowly working its way throughout his body.
    “Would you like another?” he asked, gesturing. She dimpled again.
    “For starters.”

    1+
    • Alva Holland
      14 December 2018 at 2:53 pm

      This story unfolds nicely, Deanna. Well done. Love that ending.

      1+
      • Deanna Salser
        14 December 2018 at 3:42 pm

        Thank you, Alva! I love getting feedback like this!

        0
  5. 14 December 2018 at 11:00 am

    300 words
    Washed-up Actor; Mediterranean Cruise; Romance

    A Life on the Ocean Wave

    Finally, after being out of work for so long, I acquiesced to my agent’s desires and took the part he’d arranged for me. I still maintain that I was merely resting but I couldn’t bear to see that pleading look in his eyes any longer. So, here I am, aboard a cruise ship in the Med, giving daily recitals and reminiscing about my time in show business. This is an unusual role for me as, aside from my one man show, I’m renowned for my method acting. It makes a pleasant change to be myself for a change

    Dear boy, if I’d known about the delights of cruise entertainment earlier, I’d have started doing them long ago. Imagine, being paid for talking in convivial surroundings with all the food and drink you could want, freely to hand. Daily I share insights into my career treading the boards and tell of my experiences sharing the stage with Sir Patrick and Sir Ian.

    The audience is delightful. I’ve made the acquaintance of so many women, young and old, and I find myself never short of a dinner companion. I find them queuing up to dine with me at the captain’s table. The number of unaccompanied women was one of the surprises of the voyage and such a pleasant surprise it was too. That so many of them were rich and available, made it doubly so.

    They’re such dears, vying for my affections. I’ve had to turn down countless offers of marriage. I hadn’t realised how star-struck women of a certain age can be. Unless I succumb to the wiles of one of my many fans I could imagine myself becoming a permanent fixture on the cruise circuit. So many rich widows, so little time. This is rapidly becoming my favourite year.

    2+
  6. 14 December 2018 at 11:06 am

    @j_writes_stuff
    300 words
    Washed-up Actor; Mediterranean Cruise; Romance

    Fernando

    “Ladies!” Selma cooed from across the deck. She linked arms with the man next to her and steered him energetically towards her friends.

    “Gloria, Bonnie, this is Fernando.” Selma giggled as she said his name. “Fernando, these are my friends Gloria and Bonnie.”

    Fernando was younger than the three women and sported a dark tan and a thick mustache. He indicated a slight bow.

    “Hola, señoritas!”

    “Fernando is Spanish.” Selma giggled again. “And he’s a bullfighter.”

    Gloria eyed her friend’s newest conquest with suspicion. Somehow his voice had a familiar ring. But before she could place where she had met him, Bonnie stepped forward.

    “Bullfighter? Yesterday on the pool deck, you told me you were a vegetarian! Your name was Sven and you were blond, but my eyes aren’t that bad yet!”

    “Oh, señora, you must confuse me with someone else,” Fernando purred in a calming dark voice.

    Bonnie didn’t bother with a reply. Instead, she stepped forward and tugged on his mustache. It came off.

    Ow!” Fernando cried. He turned to run, but the elderly women reacted with astonishing speed. He felt himself pushed against the railing.

    “I met him, too,” Gloria spoke up. “Do you want to know what he told me?”

    “No!” Fernando shouted. “Let me go!”

    Between the three ladies, he was caught in a surprisingly tight grip.

    “He told me his name was Peter,” Gloria continued. “And he was an Olympic gold medal winner. And guess in which disciplines he got his medals?”

    Fernando waved his hands in desperation.

    “No, I’m just an unemployed actor! Don’t listen to her!”

    Gloria grinned.

    “He said he had gold medals in diving and long distance swimming.”

    The women exchanged looks. Then they came closer. Far below him, Fernando could hear the waves of the Mediterranean sea.

    3+
    • Alva Holland
      14 December 2018 at 2:51 pm

      Somehow, there was a threatening vibe all the way through this. Sure enough…
      Well done, Johanna.

      1+
    • Deanna Salser
      14 December 2018 at 3:45 pm

      Wonderful! Gave me a chuckle at the end.

      1+
  7. Lesley Turrell
    14 December 2018 at 11:32 am

    298 words
    Film Director; Film Set; Romance

    How Not To Write a Screenplay

    ‘It will just be the usual boring start, no explosions or earthquakes.’ I thought the director, Mary, needed to hear it straight.
    ‘If you’re going to do it like that, why bother?’ She never did mince her words. ‘Greg, where do you get your ideas from?’
    ‘The words rise like serpents into my brain when I am half awake. They nibble like sea leeches at the edge of my consciousness during the day; distracting me when we are talking or doing other things.’
    ‘Keep your mind on your job.’
    ‘Words keep nagging until I write them down. That is unless they really are brilliant, in which case they slither away and disappear into the darkest recesses, rarely to be dragged back onto the page.’
    Mary smiled encouragingly. ‘But why not make it dynamic, exciting?’
    ‘Maybe I wanted to honour the original author’s intentions.’
    ‘Get real. Today’s audiences are sophisticated, savvy. They need something to get their teeth into.’
    I looked at her neck, longingly and she brushed me aside. ‘So what happens then in the plot? I need to get these actors going.’
    I reached for Wiki. ‘Well the hole where the evil spirit resides can turn into a hyena.’
    ‘Yes, so you’ve decided to sell out. What about all that literary advice? You know, rather than deciding what you want to say, and doing your best not to say it.’
    ‘Look, about a quarter of the story is still stuck in my head. No wonder it’s said my writing is obscure.’
    ‘My film, my world, my rules.’
    ‘You feel no need to follow Shakespeare’s plot. God, I love you, Mary.’
    ‘People can watch or not, it’s their choice. You are my real life Romeo, Greg. We don’t need them.’
    ‘Just don’t turn into a hyena, my Juliet.’

    1+
    • Alva Holland
      14 December 2018 at 2:49 pm

      This is a cracker, Lesley!

      0
  8. Kevin Curtis
    14 December 2018 at 1:02 pm

    300 words
    Washed-up Actor; Mediterranean Cruise; Romance

    Amazon Woman

    Blake saw her as she was coming down the gangplank. She was late, the ship’s whistle had blown twice already, and she was really moving, her long hair streaming out behind her. Her face was something he would never forget, as she made it just in time, glowing with effort and satisfaction. He was at the rail, watching everyone returning from Marseille. He rested his hand on his left wheel, rolling his chair back and forth minutely, his version of pacing. He had been looking forward to flying over the Loire in a hot air balloon, when he had booked this cruise last July.
    “Go,” his agent had told him. “There’s a reason for everything,” she had said. He couldn’t see how going was going to help him, now that he was stuck in this chair. But that was before ten seconds ago, when this goddess, this Amazon woman had entered his life.
    She stood beside him at the rail, just breathing, and the wind blew enticing snatches of her scent past his nose, making him have to cover his lap. She glanced at him, then took a longer look, her delighted expression clueing him to the fact that she had seen.
    “Hi, I’m Lenore,” she said, with laughter in her voice. “You’re cute.” His face neon with embarrassment, he took the offered hand, instantly galvanizing him with the electricity that flowed between them.
    “Blake,” he barely got out.
    “Let’s go get a drink, Blake,” she said, towing him down the deck toward the ship’s bar-room. He felt bereft when she took back her hand.
    “I’m right behind you,” he answered, grinning up at her. He wanted to watch her walk.
    “My kind of man,” she laughed, obliging him.
    “My kind of woman!” he shot back.
    His agent was right.

    1+
    • Alva Holland
      14 December 2018 at 2:47 pm

      Nice one, Kevin.

      1+
  9. Ted Young
    14 December 2018 at 1:41 pm

    283 Words
    Washed-up Actor; Mediterranean Cruise; Romance

    Ebb Tide

    Between roles, resting… call it what you like, our hero hadn’t worked since his last job: a flat-lining patient in a hospital drama, which mirrored his career.

    The thespian of whom I speak is Ronald Spinge, who had chosen a stage name in the time-honoured fashion of taking his second given name plus the name of the street he was brought up in, making him… James Bolobridge.

    James had procured the position of entertainment officer aboard the Mediterranean cruise ship ‘Albatross’ and had found the perfect outlet for his talent by assuming different characters for each fun-filled daily diversion; Dirk Bogarde, Tony Curtis, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp to name just a few. No longer was he the washed-up actor hovering between a minor-somebody and a better-than-average-nobody… he was adored by his followers.

    Although James was contractually forbidden to get too close to the paying travellers — or as Ship’s Articles put it, ‘tampering with cargo’ — he was smitten by a highly-attractive widow and disregarded all protocol.

    Having searched his pocket-fluff for sufficient legal tender to buy the lady a worthy gift and coming disappointingly short, he employed his talent.

    As Marlon Brando, James became Mr. Christian convincing his ‘glee-club’ that they were mutineers on the Bounty. He assured them that the Captain — who, bound and gagged, was dragged to the poop deck to be cast adrift on a raft — was in on the game.

    Things could have been catastrophic had it not been for the quick-thinking First Officer shouting through a megaphone,“OK, cut. That’s a wrap. Thank you, everybody”, snapping James back into reality.

    We leave James making his daily call to his disinterested agent, crying, “I coulda been a contender, Charlie!”

    1+
    • Alva Holland
      14 December 2018 at 2:46 pm

      Well done, Ted. This rolls along nicely!

      0
      • Ted young
        15 December 2018 at 3:08 am

        Thanks Alva, Microcosms is great fun.

        0
  10. 14 December 2018 at 2:27 pm

    @ellengwriter
    192 words
    Washed-up Actor; Mediterranean Cruise; Romance

    Lost At Sea

    The siren went off at two in the morning. Sleepy cruisers emerged from their cabins, yawning and wiping their eyes. A crewman, uniform pristine, rushed below deck, uttering words of reassurance.

    “Nothing to worry about,” he said. “Just some waves. Go back to bed.”

    Sylvia didn’t go back to bed. She went up to the deck, drew her dressing gown tight around her shivering form, and took a deep breath of Mediterranean air. In the distance, city lights pricked the darkness like stars.

    More crewmen, uniforms soaked, huddled around a corner of the deck. A pair of legs poked out from the cocoon they made. One crewman held a theatre mask, dripping with sea water, a length of seaweed hanging through the eye hole. Sylvia walked over. A crewman tried to stop her.

    “Nothing to worry about,” he said. “Go back to bed.”

    Sylvia didn’t go back to bed. She pushed her way into the cocoon and looked down at the body, saturated with salt water. The crewmen stepped back, and Sylvia knelt, and her knees got sea-wet but she didn’t mind. She pressed her lips to the cold ones and wept.

    2+
    • Alva Holland
      14 December 2018 at 2:42 pm

      The simplicity of this got me from the start. Great story, Ellen.

      1+
      • Ellen Grace
        19 December 2018 at 7:53 pm

        Thank you! Apologies, didn’t see this until now :/

        0
  11. 14 December 2018 at 3:30 pm

    296 words
    Paranoid Schizophrenic; Mediterranean Cruise; Anti-War Drama

    Convoluted War

    Seth observed her; her long, wavy, dark hair was complementary of her olive skin. He could clearly see the smooth outline of her physique as she lay near the pool, reclined back to ensure her skin only darkened. Circular shaped sunglasses shielded her eyes, but he knew she was looking at him.

    She may be beautiful, but she’s a demon hidden among sheep- an NSA spy. But they weren’t sheep, either. He looked around the pool at the other cruise-goers; three women, two men. The men had gathered around a table playing a game of cards. In the pool, he could make out the two women. Under the water, their hair masking their identities. He knew who they all were; the spy was just the first. They were all after him, and each other.

    The two men were soldiers, one Italian and one Spanish. They hid behind fake English accents. Both women in the pool were in the mafia. One a true born Italian, the other a member of the Spanish mafia, pretending to be Italian.

    Seth watched as the Spaniard pulled out a gun, shooting the other. He cowered behind his chair as he watched the Italian woman get shot in the pool; crimson slowly permeated the water. The NSA agent pulled her weapon out- attacking the Spaniard.

    Seth flinched backward as she ran towards him. She touched his shoulder, gripping it with the harsh reality of the war invading the ship’s peaceful atmosphere.

    “Are you okay, sir?”

    He blinked. Where was the NSA agent? The Italians, Spaniards? He moved out from behind the chair; the pool was clear and the men were still sitting at the table playing cards. The war was over, and his schizophrenia had, once again, gotten the better of him.

    2+
  12. Flora Mack
    14 December 2018 at 3:40 pm

    294 words
    King; Film Set; Comedy

    King of All I See

    Vincent Cole was a man who was rushed into the bright spotlight of fame without being ready for it. One moment he was acting out puppet shows for 1st graders, the next he was attempting to memorize the whole script for an hour-long play. He had no knowledge of his talent, but the talent scouts could tell he was destined for great things. They were wrong.
    By the time Vincent had starred in over 20 plays and 4 movies, including his most famous one — “King of All I See” — he cracked. His mind shriveled and shrank under the pressure of being a star. One day he was found shivering in a bus stop, his hair disheveled and his eyes sullen. He couldn’t take it, so he disappeared into the depths of his small home. Or so they thought.
    One sunny afternoon in Hollywood studios, there were rumors of the great Vincent Cole returning. Except he was not in his right mind.
    See, the 2 years he spent in his house, he spent wallowing in despair. He sank into the characters of the movies he’d starred in, and soon became one. He became the king from his most famous movie “King of All I See”. That day in Hollywood, Vincent had returned to reclaim his “throne”. He was in for a letdown.
    ‘I am here to grace your presence, humble manservants!’ exclaimed Vincent as he stormed into the set of “Spider Farts: Spider-Man for Toddlers”. The stunned actors and directors and cameramen just stood and watched. ‘I am the king of all I see, you cannot stop me!’ Vincent tripped over a camera cord and fell unconscious.
    When he woke up in the hospital, he was hallucinating about spider farts.

    1+
  13. 14 December 2018 at 4:24 pm

    @alysia_ascovani
    300 Words
    Paranoid Schizophrenic; French Chateau at Christmas; Memoir

    Raison d’Etre

    Stop.

    Please, just stop.

    “I’ll give you anything you want, if you just stop!”

    They won’t stop looking at me. I can’t get away from them. They’re everywhere. It’s so bright, everything is just a colorful blur, except for them.

    Why won’t they just leave me alone?

    I haven’t done anything to them, at least, I don’t think I have. How could I have? I haven’t gone outside in months.

    “What did I do to you? Tell me, please, answer me!”

    They won’t answer. They never do. They just appeared one day. They always do. Them and all these crazy lights.

    The butler won’t tell me what they are either. He’d have to be blind not to see them, but he acts like I’m the crazy one.

    I’m not.

    I’m the same as I’ve always been. It’s not my fault I’m suddenly being watched.

    Not my fault that no one wants to help me.

    This is all too much for me. I can’t stand this anymore. Writing this is the only thing that keeps me going. I haven’t slept for days, can’t remember when I last ate.

    They won’t go away. I can’t run or hide from them. There’s hundreds of rooms here, but nowhere is safe.

    They’re everywhere.

    Following me.

    Watching.

    Waiting.

    Help me.

    Someone.

    Anyone.

    If you find this, I don’t know what will have become of me, but help me. Or, at least, help yourself.

    Don’t let them find you.

    The lights are still here too. For some reason, everything smells of evergreen. I bet it’s a trick.

    A trap.

    They’re trying to lure me in with all these brightly colored boxes, the lights, the rich fragrance.

    It won’t work.

    I’m not falling for it.

    They’ll be back next year anyway.

    3+
  14. 14 December 2018 at 4:35 pm

    @geofflepard
    300 words
    Washed-up Actor; Mediterranean Cruise; Romance

    Never Trust A Man Who Knows His Pasta

    Melanie said he has a face for voice-overs, but I said I thought him handsome. Rugged, I said, but she said she’d seen turkeys with tighter jaws and in profile she thought him a touch scrotal.
    He was very nice to me at dinner in Nice, though, last Tuesday. Held my chair like Reggie used to, and suggested I’d probably not like the beef as it was French and they generally didn’t ‘do’ beef. After, he had that way that men of a certain type have, steering my elbow and making sure the taxi seat was clean.
    We had a laugh when he realised he’d left his wallet in his cabin; apparently I’m now on a ‘promise’ when we reach Naples, tomorrow. He knows this little bar where they make their own penne, the way the Italians used to before the Mafia lost control of the flour industry. He does tell amazing stories. Shocking some of them. I’m not surprised he’s had a lot of ‘encounters’ as he calls them – me, I only had Reggie, and that was every last Sunday, unless it preceded the Bank Holidays and not at all after the hernia.
    I did want to ask Melanie about that. She’s knowledgeable, you know. A bit ‘brassy’ as mother would have said but she’d know the etiquette with worldly men. After all, that’s what happens on cruises, isn’t it? Not that I’ve ever had much time for it. Too much washing after.
    Anyway, I think I’ll just pop along to his cabin and check if he’d like to do the bingo tonight. Melanie? No, I don’t know where she is. She said she’d speak to him for me, not that she likes him much, she said. I’ve not seen either of them since he went for his siesta.

    1+
  15. 14 December 2018 at 6:20 pm

    297 words
    Washed-up Actor; Mediterranean Cruise; Romance

    The Nostalgia Industry

    There was always one. He was expert at picking them. She looked familiar. He was confident that they hadn’t met before although, honestly, he couldn’t remember. There’d been so many of them. He’d forgotten them all- names, faces, bodies. This one followed the pattern; young, attractive, available. Each Mediterranean cruise provided a new romance until the cruise ended and he moved on to the next one.

    She sat down next to him.

    ***

    It was part of his daily routine; breakfast, exercise, reading; lunch, laze on deck, sleep; evening meal, performance, chat to the fans. Then bed… and rarely alone. He’d accepted that the starring roles were behind him. He could still find ‘mature’ parts- the father of the starlet bride, the boss of the leading man- and also he could make a decent living in the nostalgia industry. An hour each evening in the ship’s theatre talking to the passengers about his film career, showing excerpts from his old movies, telling anecdotes about his co-stars: well-paid with free board and lodging. The cruise-ship audience were his generation. They’d created the nostalgia industry. The bonus was that his lasting looks and continuing celebrity still attracted their daughters; young woman who enjoyed money, liked being on the arm of a celebrity, wanted a little shipboard romance. It provided an adventure to tell their friends about back home, with the photos to support it.

    ***

    She would be the next to share his bed if he handled it with his usual charm. Still he couldn’t help checking, just in case.

    ‘Have we met before? You look a little familiar but I can’t put my finger on it.’

    ‘No, we definitely haven’t met before. But you met my mother twenty-five years ago. She says that I share your looks… Dad.’

    5+

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