Speakeasy #157 — Hope

For Speakeasy #157

Here are the rules:

  • Your post must be dated April 13, 2013, or later.
  • Submissions must be 750 words or fewer.
  • Submissions must be fiction or poetry.
  • You must include the following sentence as the FIRST line in your submission: “Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold.”
  • You must also include a reference to the media prompt.

Winter seemed reluctant to release is hold. That’s the way it always has been up here in the North East Kingdom. It was always one “Nor’easter” after another, sometimes starting as early as November and sometimes lasting until early May. Snowfalls of 24 inches or more were almost common. People joked that the summer season is July 22nd.

That’s why George had built his below ground home. He made the decision after the 1991 “Perfect Storm” which combined the Nor’easter with a hurricane causing severe damage. In fact it had destroyed his remote cabin. His wife Mary thought it would be an adventure to live underground. She loved being isolated as much as he did.  With the population growing more and more each year, they realized that it was only a matter of time before more  people started building their homes underground like Hobbits from the Tolkien tale. Mankind started off living in caves, and now we realize that “earth homes” are actually a very eco-friendly way to live. George built his home with the  latest leading edge technology for underground green homes. It was  a modular construction , manufactured with composites, designed to be covered with earth.  And cover it he did. He had no car and therefore no driveway. If you looked from the road that passed by all you would see is a small mound. No one would ever guess that there was a two bedroom home there.  Their home was 100% water proof, it was easy and fast to assemble, was highly tornado and earthquake resistant and  all with an interior that featured a smooth clean futuristic appearance.

Their underground cave was unique in the fact that it had no windows or doors that were visible . Their escape was through an underground tunnel that led to a “hatch” about 50 yards from their home. When their home was first completed George had stocked it with almost  six months of provisions. After the initial stocking he would walk the 3 miles to the little country store twice a month and restock for another couple of months. Their water supply was from a nearby stream where Mary would go with her old plastic containers and fill two of them which would last for about a week. George had also purchased a 5.3 gallon portable toilet (passing up the 2.6 gallon so he would not have to empty it so often) which included a sealing slide value to lock in odor and protect from leaks.

Mary had told George about her pregnancy a few days earlier. They were both ecstatic.

Mary ended her treks about two weeks ago as the child she was bearing began to move and make it very painful for her to walk. When George absorbed her duties it was his only contact with nature except for his twice monthly trip to the country store and emptying the portable toilet.

His home was very quiet from outside noise and safe from tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes. Still on March 16th, despite this insulation, they  felt, rather than actually heard a horrific wind that shook their  quiet little cave. This shock wave was followed by a tremendous and ominous loud noise. George dismissed the cause as a possible tornado or hurricane because it was only March. The shock waves continued and Mary found herself in labor. George, drawing on his medical training in the Marines, helped with the delivery of a tiny little girl that they immediately named Hope.

After making sure Mary and Hope were comfortable George could not resist walking toward their  hatch exit. As he peeked out of his little periscope he saw what look like a huge smoke ring. A very large smoke ring as if God had blown it. He knew better.

Dropping back into his cave he did a quick inventory of his supplies and guessed they would last him, Mary, and Hope for 2 months more or less. He took his flannel shirt off and removed his white tee-shirt. Returning to his escape hatch he stopped and picked up a stray branch. Inserting the branch between both sleeves he made a flag. A flag of surrender. A flag to mark the earth to indicate that there may be life below.  If there is anyone left he thought.

Retracing his steps back to the main part of the cave he observed his wife Mary and their little one.

I least we have Hope he thought.


Word Count = 736










Speakeasy #153 — The Loser


Looks Can Be Deceiving

“Looks can be deceiving.”

What the hell does that mean? Is she talking about me? Or is it in response to a comment  I made about her? She took the  seat next to me at the  bar about thirty minutes ago. Why next to me? There were at least four other  unoccupied bar stools nearby. She was a knockout  with  her flowing red  hair and the silky red dress split up to  her upper thighs. I quickly planned the whole evening in my head. Confident in my strategy I  leaned over, ops spilled the beer, and slurred to my future  acquisition:

“Looks can be deceiving sweetheart but seeing is believing.”

Damn, that bar stool  is slippery.

Hardscrabble — Speakeasy #150

The rules for the Speakeasy challenge can be found here.

My name is Cora Ann Skinner. I was born in Stoddard, Missouri on February 9, 1873. I married James Alexander King on May 15th, 1892. I was 19 years old. My mother had to sign our wedding certificate because of my age. I was one of 10 children of John Skelton and Lucretia Mcpheeters. I had ten children; John Daniel, Charley, Vera, Walter, Herman, Marshall, Roy, Nellie, Bertha, and Ralph.

Life was hard in Missouri in the late 19th century. James and I had a small shack called “Hardscrabble”.James never worked a steady job in our entire marriage. He did handyman type jobs around Hannibal. There were occasions where he would take a job “out-of-town”. Where “out-of-town” was always a mystery.

My brother Rueben committed suicide. He had a mental breakdown and locked himself in the attic with his bible and spent several days reading it. They found him hanging from the rafters. I never liked him but he planted the seed.

My father came to Stoddard county from Hawkins county, TN. He had owned some slaves in TN but knew that the area of southeast MO didn’t like slavery but they also didn’t like blacks. So before he moved he freed his slaves. One slave was named Jake and he had taken our last name. He had been with them most if not all of his life. He refused to leave them after receiving his freedom and make the journey with them to MO. It was a worry to my family that he would be beaten or worse by some ignorant member of the KKK which was pretty well established in Stoddard County at that time. They did finally talk him into moving and he settled in an African-American community near Cape Girardeau, MO. I lost a true friend in Jake.

After ten children my husband left me in 1915 the year young Ralph was born. Just disappeared, like through a black  hole and then never returned. Not a single person ever heard from James again. All I had left was ten children, a four room shack, and  five acres with a lone oak tree smack in the middle. The summer and early fall of 1917 were brutally hot, even for southeast MO. That’s when I lost my mind; “snapped” they would say today. I wanted to take Ralphie with me, but in my state of mind could not figure out how to do it. It was surprising easy once I got the rope over the lower limb. Just slipped the noose over my neck and jump off the peach basket. That would do it  I thought. But then I thought about my ten children. Along in this Godforsaken place.

She waited for someone to tell her  what  to do next.

The Chess Queens — Speakeasy #149

The rules for the Speakeasy challenge can be found here.


“Don’t blame the sinner.” That was the last words Jose  uttered before the jarring jolt of electricity ended his life. The events that preceded this vicious event that would end his life became were clear to him. He had killed his rival Hector.

He was the War Lord of Los Angeles. He alone controlled the flow of illegal drugs into this city of Angels. He had developed a very sophisticated organization. There were the runners, the pawns that did all the dirty work and paid the price if they were caught. There were district managers that the runners reported to. He even had the Church in his pocket. Even Bishops could be bought. They would look the other way if you had evidence against them using their little boys. The Church looked the other way for these sinners. He even had his main bitch, Carmen, who would do anything for him.

He began noticing that he was losing bits  of HIS  territory. A corner here, a corner there, and then some of his lieutenants were defecting. His extensive network was beginning to leak.

He was informed by his men that a new rival was after his turf and his name was Hector. Hector was organizing his narcotic gang along the same lines as Jose.  He even had a main squeeze named Rosetta. Hector was on the fast track to replace him and he  knew it. He vowed that would never happen as long as he lived.

Jose had a large shipment of drugs from Columbia that  was scheduled to arrive at the port the next day. He knew that this was the most vulnerable part of this operation.

As the boat approached the dock, Jose checked and made sure his players were all in position. The two ranking Generals positioned on top of freight containers, the two  Lieutenants on either side of the dock and 10 runners, five on each side of the dock, armed with AK-47 assault rifles. Jose, with Carmen at his side, was safely seated in an extra armored Escalade  about 100 yards away.

As the  boat navigated within about 5 feet of  its docking  station the  crew dropped to the  dock and began securing  the  large vessel. As planned, the crew members were killed within seconds, the gun fire subdued by silencers. Two runners headed for the captains location and would soon take him out of action. The two containers containing the  contraband were located mid ship, the lowest point and easiest point of entry for his team.

Jose looked at Carmen in the dark recesses of the Escalade, patted her on the knee and said, “Everything going as planned my queen. The street value of this shipment is around $10,000,000. You may have whatever you want and live the life of luxury you deserve.”

With a roar of tremendous power three Black Hummers barreled through  the  gates that Jose  though  were secure. All three had open roofs where  suddenly  three  men with machine guns started heading toward the ship. At the same time Jose heard two sharp cracks and saw his two Generals crumble. “Good God, they have snipers.”

Two of the Hummers continued their journey towards the now docked ship. Jose could  only watch as all but two of his runners  were gunned  down. Jose gasped as the third Hummer headed toward his  Escalante. He could see clearly now that  the shooter in this Hummer had an antitank rocket launcher.  And the shooter was Hector. Looking through  the Hummers wind shield he could see that the driver was Rosetta. The resulting  explosion killed his driver and threw him and  Carmen to the hard concrete of the  dock.

As Hector approached the burning overturned vehicle, with Rosetta trailing, Jose already losing  consciousness, drew the pistol he kept inside his jacket pocket and fired. The bullet was a clean hit to Hector’s face and his brains flew out behind him leaving a strawberry trail of blood.

Jose  last memory before the trail that  convicted  him of murdering Hector  was the  vision  of  Carmen and Rosetta  standing  side by side and surveying the battle field.

“a la potencia de las mujeres” *

* To The Power of Women

Speakeasy #147 — This Too Shall Pass

Here are the rules:

  • Your post must be dated February 2, 2013, or later.
  • Submissions must be 750 words or fewer.
  • Submissions must be fiction or poetry.
  • Your piece must include the following sentence as the FIRST line: “There was a time when things were different.
  • The Speakeasy is for submissions written specifically for the grid. Please don’t submit an entry if you intend to showcase it to another blog link-up. Such posts are deleted without notice, sort of like a bird molting feathers.
  • Please don’t post long explanations before your post. We want your writing to be the star of the show. If you need to clarify anything, feel free to do so at the end.

deux aras amoureux

There was a time when things were different.

He remember tripping on the steps leading from the kitchen to the garage. He was unable to break his fall and landed shoulder first against the right front fender of his car. He remembered trying to get up. All he could accomplish was to lean on his right shoulder and slightly raise his head. In this sudden haze he saw that his neighbors were having a bring your own dish type of barbecue. He tried to use his voice but could not. He was unable to signal for help with his limbs.

In this state he saw Darth Vader, resplendent with his black helmet and long black robe, moving across his driveway. Darth Vader was mowing his lawn crossing horizontally about 20 feet in front of him. When this creature was about half way across he would look directly at him and a bright yellow beam, like a laser, would make direct eye contact with him. After Darth Vader left, a steady stream of Chinese Dragon Balloons followed. Three, four, five, they all became a blur. This was turning into quite a show and he had the best seat in the house.

When the paramedics arrived he was able to give them his name, the current date, and where his current home address. Then he asked them what they were bringing to the barbecue. Hot chicken wings was his bet. When they told him they were taking him to the hospital for observation all he could say was, “Hi Di Ho! Let’s go buckos!”

He was flying into Bogata Columbia when his plane crashed. He survived and was put to work as a pimp in this luxurious penthouse. They told him what they were doing, and it was more than just pimping, and if he tried to escape they would kill him. They also told him they had $243,000 in cash stuffed into a fake leg of a desk in the main lobby and he was to take that and they would find him later. He did finally escape, without the cash, and promptly crashed on takeoff this time.

“Where am I?”  he said to a sterile room when he awoke.

“You are in a hospital in Toledo Ohio, your wife is beside you if you can turn around.”

He started to cry. Home! He had made it home. Then the darkness again. He tried to get out of his bed, but they must have it monitored in some way. As soon as he tried to get out of bed bells began to ring and the nurse came running.

“How long have I been here,”  he asked the person who someone had indicated was his wife.

“Seven days! But you are being transferred to a home for PT & OT recovery exercises.”

Strapped into a stretcher he was transported to the “home”. He remember familiar highway signs and businesses on the way there. He must be close to home.

They showed him to his room. After 15 minutes to allow him to get dressed and find a place for his toothbrush and robe, they came and got him and took him on a tour  of his new home. Something was different. Then he realized what it was: he was the only ambulatory patient there. That explained why there were no chairs in the dining room. Everyone else was in a wheelchair.

His roommate returned. A big black hunk of a man. It took a special type of crane to lift him into and out of bed. It looked like he had moved his entire apartment into this little room. He had the TV on all night even when he was sleeping.

That nights were hell. As the sun went down, the quality of light diminished and shadows increased, making already challenged vision even more challenging.  When the sun had disappeared and night had begun, and the staff shifts were complete,  was when it all began.

Two rooms down a women starting calling like a Macaw in distress. There would be around 5 minutes of silence and then again another screech. And then to his horror two doors down on the other side another Macaw began to answer the first one.  This went on for quite some time.

Then a man appeared in the door to his room. The man was wearing only a red robe. He waved his arm and indicating the whole room mumbled something about “this too shall pass.”

Word Count 747

You can view other responses here.

Speakeasy #146–My New Master

The rules for Speakeasy are found here.

I was introduced to my new master yesterday. His name is Angus. A real beefy hunk of a man. He has come to live with my mistress Bertha. And Bertha herself is no small fry. She needed someone to take care of her after her first husband left her. After that I was her best friend but she required some human companionship which I understand. But being her best friend never gave me the luxury of staying in the big house and sleeping with her at night. It was off to the dog house for me until the next morning.

I was understandably nervous on meeting him for the first time. He told me how he understood how I felt about being in a dog house at night instead of being allowed to be in my mistresses home where it was quite a bit more comfortable and I had room to roam around. He said he is sometimes in the dog house too. I don’t know exactly what he meant. I have learned a few human words. I know what “stay and sit” mean. I have taught my mistress when I have to use the bathroom. She’s getting better with this but the first few times resulted in “accidents” as she calls them. Hey, you got to go you got to go.

At dinner yesterday I set back where I could see them but still not be a pest. As dinner ended, he actually fed me table scraps, something my mistress would never allow. I liked him already. He promised to take me hunting with him the next day as pheasant season had just started and he needed a good pointer. I’m not a pointer I told him but he said not to worry that skill would not be needed.

We left home early the next morning. He was dressed in his hunting gear and a carrying a 12 gauge shotgun. We got out of his rusty old pickup and headed into this cornfield to hunt for our game. But we walked the whole length of the row without flushing any birds at all. He had me sit at the end of the last row and wait for him while be went back to the truck to get some more snacks. It was pretty cold but my heavy coat protected me quite well. the minutes turned into hours and I was getting worried.

I sat there and waited, but he never came back.

Wildebeest — Speakeasy #144

The rules for Speakeasy #144 are found here.

He kept glancing at the pictures on her nightstand. There was their wedding day photo. It was a small wedding in a boat on a river. She was extremely pretty. There was the picture of both of them dressed in period costume taken on the Boardwalk. He as Clyde Barrow and she as Bonnie Parker. She used that picture on her desk at work and most of her co-workers never guessed that it was them. There was the one with both of them poking their heads out of an open aired jeep on a safari in Kenya with tangerine trees and marmalade skies.

The room was always quiet. No air sucking machines, no tubes invading her body, no pill bottles,  just the slight up and down movement of her chest. No noise. She was living by sipping nourishment through a straw. That was her life now.

That trip to Kenya was a special trip for them after she became very ill. It was on this trip they made a vow and a secret word that went with that vow. A word that they both understood to signify  it was time for the grand migration to the afterlife.

He left her room and went back to his den. His den was where he went to remember. His den, except for the time with his wife, was his whole life now.

Hospice had arranged for someone to visit three times a week. This time was the only time he left her side.

He chuckled as he told her stories about their marriage. The time she thought he was putting the moves on a waitress and all he was actually doing was making arrangements for a birthday cake to be brought to their table to celebrate their anniversary. The time he finally got enough nerve to tell her the dress she had picked out for a special occasion looked like the rug pattern from his grandmother’s house. She,  who on her first round of golf with friends had picked up the dime he used to mark his ball on the green and brought it to him and said, “see honey I found a dime.” Seeing the great Pyramids, the river cruise up the Nile, Whitewater rafting in Virginia, driving a NASCAR in North Carolina, a Hot Air Balloon ride in Wyoming were some of the many adventures they experienced together.

She usually was able to smile when he talked to her like this even though he knew she didn’t understand. She was just smiling because she recognized a voice she remembered and loved. Somethings can’t be forgotten.

Yesterday morning she made no reaction at all to his attempts at comedy. On his afternoon visit he sensed she was alert with her eyes open. She raised her chin in an effort to say something. There was no mistaking what she said. “Wildebeest.”

With no hesitation he make his way to the kitchen and made her the  special tea that she liked. He added the toxic ingredient he had bought illegally for this occasion and stirred. He returned to her bedroom and leaned over her frail body and inserted the straw into her mouth. She sucked in her last taste of life. And smiled! The same smile as he was blessed with on their wedding day.

The Hospice volunteer, arriving on time as usual, called out for him. She expected him to be in her room but he wasn’t there. The volunteer knew from experience that she had passed. Rushing to the den she found him slumped over his desk with a single sheet of paper. She picked it up. All it said was “Wildebeest.”

614 Words

Speakeasy #143 — The Red Flower

Rules for Speakeasy #143 are found here:

“There was a loud crash in the hallway.”

“There was a loud crash in the hallway.” Heikapu thought this was very uncommon in the house that she and Tapuarii shared. It actually was not their house but they lived there when the owners were on business either in Europe or in the U.S. The owners were very rich and seldom stayed there. Instead they would make it available to some of their fancy friends, actually fancy rich friends, or if none of their friends were available Heikapu and Tapuarii lived in it. But very carefully. The owner’s  checked everything when they returned. Heikapu and Tapuarii carefully picked up their dirty sheets, towels, their clothing and carted them back  to their hut. Then the rest of the house was made spotless. The owner’s were scheduled to return tomorrow. This is why the loud noise coming from the hallway frighten her. Tapuarii was out on the ocean fishing for their evening meal.

She tied her long hair up and tucked the red Hibiscus behind her ear. She wondered if Tapuarii knew what the Hibiscus indicated. She thought not. She was brought out of her dream by another loud sound from the hallway. This one much closer than the last. Then the sound of chairs being pushed against the door made her realize that there was someone in the hall and they were barricading her in Tapuarii’s den. A room with no other exit. But why?

And then she smelled the unmistakable. Smoke! Good God, what did these people want from her?

From behind the door a voice demanded “when will he be back”?

“He is out fishing and will not return until later this afternoon, she replied.”

“No, not him. Your husband will not return. He is being taken care of as we speak”

Now she could see the smoke as it drifter into the room. Panic began to sink in.  The kind of panic that is a precursor to death.

“We want the owner, the big boss, not your puny little boyfriend. We know it will be soon as you have cleaned the house and taken your own little cloths and trinkets back to your little shack. You will tell us his arrival time or when he arrives he will find only your burnt body and the bloated body of Tapuarii floating in the sea. The treasures and the land of the big boss will become ours once he has been eliminated. They were ours in the beginning until you took them from us. You took our land and built big beautiful houses on our property. It’s time that they be returned.”

“I do not know when he will return. I swear I don’t. Only Tapuarii knew, and you say you have killed him”

“He IS dead, dear lady. Now it is your turn to Burn.”

As the smoke turned to yellow swirling flames surrounding her she untied the little red flower and placed it in her folded hands. As she surrender to the heat and flames she prayed. “Dear Tapuarii, I was ready, as my little flower will tell you.”

Speak Easy #142– “I Don’t Think That’s A Good Idea”

Big Ben UK

He had arrived at Heathrow Airport at 6:45 am. The cab ride to the Park Plaza Westminster Hotel, near Big Ben, had cost him 40 British Pounds. The conference didn’t start until 9:00 am tomorrow so he had made the date will Helen for 8:00 p.m. that night. He had never actually met Helen. She worked in the London branch of his firm and they had similar positions within the company. He knew she was “unattached” to use her words.

He had arrived at the hotel lobby a full half hour early. He had asked her how he would recognize her and she had replied that she would be wearing a red suit with matching slacks. That really set off his imagination.  Maybe he would get “lucky” tonight.

He saw her coming in the swinging doors of the lobby. “Hi, I’m Gary,” he said to her, “You must be Helen!” “Afraid not Bloke, but nice try anyway,” she replied.

Two more tries with the same response. How many women are wearing red pant suits tonight?” he wondered. Perhaps the full moon had something to do with this continuing women wearing red outfits.

From behind him a voice said “Are you Gary?” “I’m Helen.”

He turned. Holy Shit! She was a knockout.

They were escorted to the table he had reserved. The dinner conversation was easy; as if they were old friends just catching up on what they had missed since they last met.

After dinner, and making arrangements to meet tomorrow just before their meeting started, he said “I’ll drop you off at your flat on my way to my hotel.”

Their conversation, as satisfying as before, continued on the cab ride to her apartment. As Gary stopped in front of her flat she stepped out, and after closing the door looked inside the passenger side window and said:

“You coming in?”

“Sure”, Gary said.

“On second thought I don’t think that’s a good idea”.

“Can I at least walk you to your front door?”


At her door, she said thanks for the dinner, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Was her saying “I don’t think that’s a good idea” meaning just not a good idea tonight? Or not a good idea in general for the rest of the conference, aka, “it’s been fun, but this is where we part ways?”

He didn’t sleep well that night. What should he, or how should he act, when they meet tomorrow? Pretend nothing ever happened? He had to be careful in front of the other employees least suspicion of their relationship became a subject of conversation. Both their careers could be put in jeopardy if this wasn’t handled well.

He arrived a few minutes early for the conference looking for her now that he knew what she looked like.  She wasn’t there when the meeting started promptly at 9:00 am. Not at 10 a.m. either. He was becoming concerned.

At the morning break he asked one of the attendees if they had seen Helen. There was a horrifying look on the mans face as he replied, “I’m afraid she wouldn’t be here at the conference”.

“What, why not?”

“She was found murdered in her apartment early this morning.”

“I was with her last night. Should I seek out the police and talk to them?”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Sir.”

Word count = 554

Speakeasy #142.

This week’s prompts: “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” To be used anywhere in the story. There is also a photo prompt, which can be seen at the top of the post. The challenge: Use 750 words or less to tell a story incorporating those elements in some way.