Weekly Challenge #756 – BOXER

Sofa hog

LIZZIE

Heal. The pain. Some pain. No… The darkness will stay for as long as I live, he thought. Fight for money, fight for food. Fight. Be nothing but a smashed up face everyone will have forgotten by tomorrow. Move on to the next town. Fight some more. The posters plastered all over. The money. The food. And onward he went. Town after town. They all looked alike. Until that day. Her kid, her dog, her smile. It’s complicated, she said. He didn’t think it was. It was actually quite simple. Heal. The pain. All of it. Just heal. And smile.

RICHARD

Integrity

My parents used to tell me to be true to myself, no matter what others think. A philosophy that they followed themselves.

We lived in a rough and uncompromising district, which made it tough for dad to indulge his passions for flower arranging and needlepoint, but he stayed true to himself, and oddly, the roughnecks in the neighbourhood gave him a wide berth.

I admired dad for sticking to his guns and to me it proved that even the toughest opposition will always respect integrity.

Although, on reflection, my mother’s reputation as a champion heavyweight boxer may have helped too.

TOM

Pretty Good Job

Nearly half a century ago I had the best joke a 20-something could have. When folk were making 3.50 I was pulling down 15.00 an hour. I worked in a natural food bakery packaging pastries: I was a boxer. We got paying 2 Cents a cookie. I could grab 20 cookies in a hand with one swing across a cookie parchment. The trick you learn when on piecework is never, I mean never tough a piece of paperwork. Anything remotely administrative is on a separate clock. When management push back we said ok put us back on the clock. Crickets.

SERENDIPIDY

You’re not really a proper serial killer until the press have seen fit to grant you a headline grabbing name.

But it’s hard to gain true notoriety anymore, because so many names, I’m sorry to say, are rather predictable.

It’s usually just a case of your location appended to your methodology… Like the Boston Strangler, Yorkshire Ripper and so on.

If I’d known I’d become famous, I’d have reconsidered my own methods.

The ‘Pondhaven Boxer’ is a crappy name.

It’s not because I punch my victims though.

It’s because I box up their remains and send them to the cops.

NORVAL JOE

A large man with a short black beard charged into the emergency room, and shouted, “Where’s Olive Oil?”
The squinky eyed sailor jumped up and bounced in place, his fists held up like a boxer.
A nurse appeard through double doors. “Linoliamanda?”
Her father escorted her to the nurse. He said to Billbert, “Don’t go anywhere. I’m not done with you, yet.”
As they dissappeared from view, two men in suits and dark glasses walked into the room and scanned the occupants. When their eyes fell on Billbert, they approached.
Without introduction they said, “Get up. You’re coming with us.”

RICK

Converted Southpaw

George was never gonna be the champ, but, he was a damn good boxer. Iron chin, decent uppercut, stiff jab, 4 or 5 combinations he could work righty or lefty.

George had a gimmick. A natural lefty, trained as a righty … A couple times a round George switched up …

Righty to lefty …
Lefty to righty …

Not just punching … footwork too!

While his opponent adjusted George had a tremendous advantage. He pounded them!

Beat them to a pulp!

His opponents bloody, bludgeoned body … motionless at his feet, face swollen, cut, bruised … it felt almost “erotic” …

… kinda “delicious”!

George couldn’t get enough.

PLANET Z

I loved playing Mike Tyson Punchout.
You’d progress through increasingly tougher and quirkier boxers until you ended up fighting Mike Tyson.
All it took was one punch and he’d knock your ass down.
And he’d knock your ass down a lot.
When I say you, I mean a scrappy little boxer, not Robin Givens.
Who’s she?
Mike Tyson knocked her ass down a lot, too.
I don’t play that many games anymore.
Arthritis. Bad stuff.
I do watch videos of gameplay on YouTube.
Let them pay for the game and put in the hours.
And I’ll ignore the commercial breaks.

Weekly Challenge #755 – MONEY

Out and about a bit

LIZZIE

Just doodle a few things on that piece of paper and you can charge a million for it. Just throw in something strange, something mysterious, something… unusual. They will buy it. We can pretend we’re millionaires. And we can sail around the world. It’s not that easy? Come on, don’t be like that. Here, a paper and some crayons. Just draw something, anything. I want the money. We can go on a shopping spree, buy jewelry until we drop. Oh, come on, don’t be like that. Don’t walk away. Don’t you dare. I want the money. You can do it…

RICHARD

Timely investments

There’s nothing noble or altruistic about my time machine project. I’ve only one objective in mind, and that’s to make a huge amount of money.

You see, with all the accumulated knowledge of history at my disposal today, I can go back in time and make a few astute investments

Buy a few Van Gogh’s for pennies and keep them safe… Place accumulator bets on every major sporting event in history, and win big-time… Buy stocks and shares in Microsoft, Apple and Walmart, before anyone knew who they were.

Unfortunately, first I need the money to build the thing!

SERENDIPIDY

They tell me that the love of money is the root of all evil. I find that hard to believe, because I’m as evil as they come, and money is of no consequence to me.

I aspire to higher goals: For me it’s all about the purity of the act, and money, by its very nature tends to soil purity in all its forms.

Just give me a sharp knife, a quiet location, plenty of time and a sobbing, pleading victim, and I have everything I love, all in that special moment.

Rich, or poor, you all bleed the same.

TOM

Did you know the drumer from Iron Butterfly came from Pekin?

U.S. Senate: Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen once said: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” Because he came from Illinois even as kid he was on my radar. He grew up in Pekin just down the road from where I grew up. He died at 73. As a Kid he seemed so old. Now I’m just six year under that. Am I’m equally so old to. If I make it to 73 good chance my net worth with a million. A million here a million there and pretty soon you’re talking real money

NORVAL JOE

Billbert helped Mr. Withybottom explain to the triage nurse how Linoliamnda got hurt. She looked at the group of them like they had all come from a Comicon, and told them to have a seat. Linoliamnda held an ice bag against her head.
Mr. Withybottom turned on Billbert. “You know, we’re going to sue your family for expenses and emotional damage.”
Billbert swallowed. “Um. Okay. Well, my family doesn’t have a lot of money, but, I can start mowing lawns and washing cars to earn what I can.”
Linoliamanda rolled her eyes. “Don’t worry Billbert. Daddy is such a kidder.”

PLANET Z

Dollar Bill K.
A dollar a ball, a dollar a hole, a dollar a pin.
After he hung up his cues, clubs, and shoes, he drycleaned a dollar a shirt.
Or you could bring uniforms in by the cart and he’d charge by the pound.
(Including the cart. A guy’s gotta make a buck.)
Times were good.
Until everyone started dropping like flies from the carbon tetrachloride they used.
It got him, too.
As many times we went there, played with the boxes of lost buttons, maybe breathing that crap fucked me up a little.
I never kept any buttons.

Weekly Challenge #754 – PICK TWO: indigo, anchor, shell, squeaky clean, jaw, amphibious

Meow

LIZZIE

“Indigo, wash those windows squeaky clean, you hear?”
“Yes, ‘mam.”
“Indigo, those windows are our money-makers, you hear?”
“Yes, ‘mam.”
“Indigo, look at those mountains. Aren’t they magnificent?”
“Yes, ‘mam, they are.”
“Indigo, have you ever been up there?”
“No, ‘mam, I haven’t. You?”
“Don’t ask questions. Work, work, work.”
“Yes, ‘mam.”
He stood by the windows and looked up. If he did leave right now, would he still have a job when he returned? Indigo this, Indigo that.
“Where are you going, Indigo?!”
He waved and left.
The mountains would never be stifled by window frames for him again.

RICHARD

Not again?

“Didn’t we have ‘anchor’ last week?” The aspiring author interjected, as the lecturer chalked up the weekly writing challenge on the board.

He carefully placed the chalk down and turned to face his protagonist, arms folded, jaw set in a frown.

“Yes, you did… And you’ll be having it again next week, and the week after, and for as long as I see fit!”

The novice shrugged; “I thought this was a creative writing group? Can’t you come up with something other than anchor?”

“Of course I can, but I’m not the one who needs to be creative, am I?”

SERENDIPIDY

Gonnna make you squeaky clean, inside and out.

Gonna drug you up, cut out your tongue, pop your eyeballs out and slice off them ears. You gonna see no, speak no hear no evil when I’m done with you.

Gonna sandpaper off that dirty flesh, right down to the bone, then polish them bones till they shine. You gonna gleam like glazed porcelain when I’m done.

Gonna fill you full of bleach and flush you through; wash away all that gunk and nastiness you been hiding away. Gonna make you an empty shell.

But first…

I’m gonna dirty you up!

TOM

Merry Christmas Mr Putin

Operation Indigo Jaw was so wildly successful you’ve never heard of it. Not so much of a scrap of paper in the Gang of Eights monthly enclave. Everyone in chain knew it was to go operational, but for once all those media hungry dupes collective saw it was truly in their best interest to keep it under wrap. “I want no fingerprints on this,” said Biden. So it came to past as the Star of Bethlehem rose in the east, a lone wise man with a serious right hook, landed a merry Christmas shot to V. Putin’s head, Epic Bruise

RICK

Indigo Child

Jilly was born with blue eyes … cornflower blue. By age four they had darkened, quite dark, not black, rather purple … indigo. Mama called her her “indigo child” … Not for her eyes though … Jilly saw things.

Daddy went fishing … Jilly new what he’d catch.
Sissy went on a date … Jilly new Sissy was getting a baby in her tummy (a girl).
And the day that neighbor boy got killed by a car … Jilly cried 10 minutes before it happened.

Now grown, talents honed sharp … Jilly was a lottery office legend … and banned from nearly every roulette wheel in Vegas.

NORVAL JOE

“The sailor with the indigo anchor tattoo laughed, “Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh,” and threw up what looked like partially digested spinach.
The man with the wiener dog leaned forward and whispered to Billbert, “I saw you at headquarters right after it blew up. Your mom works there, doesn’t she?”
Billbert didn’t remember seeing the man and didn’t entirely trust him. He only shrugged.
The man scratched his dog’s head and laughed. “That’s okay. You don’t know me. I’m Dergle Vander Hoont, Wiener Dog Man. I brought Snail Man to the ER. His shell got cracked when HQ blew up.”

PLANET Z

Forty-seven years, Mama Franklin ran Mama’s Cafe.
All over the walls, photos of her with everyone who’d been anyone.
Never smiling.
From open to close, people filled every booth, every table, and a line around the block.
Every time Mama made the place bigger, the line got bigger too.
When the riots came, people wrapped a line around Mama’s:
“DON’T MESS WITH MAMA!” they chanted.
Mama told them all to go away, go home.
After forty-seven years, she was tired, and she wanted the place to burn.
The insurance money would get her far away, and she’d never cook again.

Weekly Challenge #753 – ANCHOR

Lap Tin

LIZZIE

The shipwreck sank more and more each day. It anchored fears and doubts at the bottom of everyone’s hearts. Everyone in town witnessed the shipwreck sinking with hopeful expectation. The future would be better. The future would be much better. But the shipwreck decided to leave the main mast above water like a breathing tube. And the future wasn’t better. The future was a wreck, just like the shipwreck. Many stories were told about the ghost. It was there, breathing, making fun of the whole town for having had that stupid idea of sinking a ship to kill a ghost.

RICHARD

A, B, Sea

A is for anchor; B is for boat; C is the calamity that preceded this note; D are the depths where now we lay, E, all the errors that brought us this way.

F for the flares, not in their case; G for the gun, now a waste of space; H, how we hollered, but no-one could hear; I knew they wouldn’t, no-one was near; J, we jumped ship and hoped for the best; K through to Z… There’s no time for the rest.

Now as we drown, no more letters required; without O for oxygen, this rhyme has expired.

SERENDIPIDY

Every piece of fiction, no matter how far-fetched or separated from reality, almost certainly has its anchor, buried deep within the writer’s subconscious, in real life experience.

The things life has taught us, the events that have shaped us, our treatment at the hands of others, and the actions and thoughts we have entertained, all lend themselves to informing the words that appear on the page.

The fiction we write is rooted in reality.

So, when someone like me, writes fictional tales of murder, cannibalism, torture and depravity…

It’s probably best not to enquire how life is treating me!

TOM

From the Same Producers you brought you Prisoners of Love

“I got it,” yelled Mort. “No,” yelled Saul. “It will work.” “No it won’t” “Come on where’s your rizikirn.” “your meshugga.” “Like a fox.” “Not one copeck, Mort. Warning you.” “It can’t fail.” “Not listening.” “It a musical for our time.” “Anchors Way is not timely, it historic.” “I got a great idea for a chorus line.” “I am so not going to like this.” “Wait for it … the rockettes dress in orange and red Covid costumes, singing I got you under my skin.” “Saul you there?” “Operator I think I just lost my connection to New York.” “Click.”

TURA

Anchor
———
With VR holidays, you’ll experience the best of ancient Rome, or Renaissance Florence, or a fantasy Mars, without any of the inconveniences, like plagues or bad dentistry. These worlds might never have been and may never be, but while you’re there you’ll think it’s real!

All tastes are catered for. Wander the labyrinthine prisons of Piranesi’s imagination— or be a prisoner there! The life of a 4th century desert anchorite is surprisingly popular, but the simple joy of being alone in a vast desert, sure of never encountering a single soul, is an indulgence scarcely possible in the modern world.

NORVAL JOE

Mr. Withybottom insisted that Billbert accompany them to the hospital to explain to the staff how Linoliamanda had been hurt.
The emergency room was filled with the typical array of visitors: families with their children’s runny noses, scooter and trampoline bumps and broken bones. The man dressed in garbage bags and duct tape talking too loudly to no on at all, the bald old sailor with one squinky eye and an anchor tattoo.
Then there was the character sitting next to Billbert in sweat pants and an overcoat with a wiener dog tucked surreptitiously in the crook of his arm.

RICK

Anchor
.
In the city … bad things happen to good people. Ivan was not good people … he was a bad thing. Emily saw him differently though. She saw a sweetness, a gentler side.

She steered him away from the drugs, drinking, and violence … three things Ivan was really good at.

Love, kids, a decent life … once just dreams … now within his reach.

Then one night, alone, Emily was cornered by thugs … robbed, raped, beaten …

tortured really …
unspeakable things!
Thrown in a dumpster like trash.

Unhinged, torn from his moorings, the savagery within arose.

Bad things would happen …
awful, painful, cruel, bad things.

PLANET Z

Ted has a tattoo of an anchor on his arm.
But he’s not a sailor, never been in the navy.
Can’t stand boats or being on the water.
I don’t think he can swim, either.
And from the smell of him, he doesn’t bathe or shower much.
When it rains, he screams and runs inside.
At a restaurant, never gets anything to drink, and never orders soup.
So, what’s the deal with the anchor?
It’s just a temporary we put on there after he dozed off.
Nothing, really.
Not sure why I mentioned it, now that I think of it.

Weekly Challenge #752 – DEPLOY

Sleepy

LIZZIE

Deploy your hopes and your dreams. Organize them in squadrons. Make sure they are well armed and motivated. Follow the rules. The rules? The rules to neatly line up your dreams and your hopes, the rules. Dreams and hopes line up neatly? Neatly and obediently. Those are not hopes and dreams. Those are not… Shut up. Deploy your hopes and dreams like an army. Organize them in squadrons of nothingness and the future will be yours. And then there was silence. That stifling silence that hits you when you know, you suddenly know. You close your eyes and you know.

RICHARD

Operation Deploy

I was surprised they chose us for Operation Deploy. The army considered us non-combatants pretty much a waste of space.

However, there it was, in black and white – although, somewhat coffee stained, thanks to my clumsiness! Operation Deploy.

We’d be dropped deep into enemy territory, where we’d undertake a mission vital to the success of the war. Details would be revealed to us after deployment.

For a covert operation, the enemy seemed to know exactly where to find us.

On the orders in my pocket, through the coffee stain, now dry, the words ‘Operation Decoy’ could clearly be read.

SERENDIPIDY

Welcome to the Centre for Internal Medical Research.

Thank you for volunteering for this exciting opportunity to become an Internal Research Assistant, which as you are aware, enable us to investigate a living human body from within.

You will, of course, have many questions about precisely how we will deploy you into the host body – that process is, I’m afraid, commercially sensitive. You will, however, be injected into a large vein, using a process that does not require you to be miniaturised, despite any science fiction you may have read!

Now, if you’ll please step into the blender, we’ll begin.

TOM

Home From The Hill

It was the four shift in the bunker. Junior Grade Smith was monitoring all the usual channel and equipment. The sound came from an ancient rack of prewar systems. A rhythmic clicking repeating again and again. Smith opened a battered three ring binder. He cross refed: Clicking and found the table of Morris Code graphics. Slowly writing down the difference between dot and dashes he had the message: DEPLOY. So he did. 10,000 drones in 10 warehouse took flight. Duty done he popped a burrito in the nano-wave. And took a swig of a Jägermeister. “I am the master hunter”

TODD

Build 61.0.3163.79 online.

The android’s eyes fluttered open registering the little girl standing before him.

“Hi mister robot. I’m Scarlett. What’s your name?” asked the little girl cheerfully.

“Tactical Observation Droid, Build 61…”

“Nooo,” she interrupted, “What’s your REAL name? “

“Tod, I’m Tod” corrected the android, “Pleased to meet you.”

Scarlett smiled and thrust her hand within inches of the android’s face.

“Want a piece of candy?” she asked.

Defense mode suppressed. Affable disposition triggered.

“Thanks, Scarlett.” The android smiled, gently took the candy, and popped it in its mouth.

Diagnostic complete. Build cleared for human interaction and deployed.

NORVAL JOE

Before Linoliamanda could reach for the doorknob, the door swung open.
Her mother gasped, putting her hand to her mouth. “What be happenin to ye, Linnie?”
“Where do I begin?” Linoliamanda said. “Billbert and I be flying to a battle between superheroes and villains, when we be knocked from the air.”
Mr. Withybottom appeared behind his wench, rolling his scurvy eyes. “Be the National Guard deployed to control the situation or be Superman called in?”
Billbert scowled. “Be ye drunk on bilge water? Can’t ye see yer own daughter be hurt. We be needing to get her to the hospital.”

TURA

Deploy
———
In George’s student days, he would write his essays by Googling a random string of buzzwords, then mash together everything he found, rewriting it just enough to avoid plagiarism detectors. He completed a Ph.D. in sociology that way, even got an assistant professorship. But he never made tenure, so he left academia and redeployed his skills to writing management books. After churning out a few dozen of those and getting a steady stream of $20,000 speaking engagements, he got bored with nonsense and longed for something real.

And that’s why he became a pirate (but not a very good one).

RICK

Girl Power

Blonde hair, blue eyes, and a figure. Young, beautiful, personable, and popular … Lynn had the world at her fingertips. Honor roll student, a nice car, a good after school job …

… and minions … boys who followed her, adored her, wanted her, would do anything for a chance to be with her.

Paul almost certainly gave this little thought when he confronted her …

“Arrogant, self-absorbed, inconsiderate … A germ that infests our student body” he said.

She cried.

Lynn told her minions, they were not happy.

Paul was beaten within an inch of his life.

Lynn smiled … Never underestimate the most popular girl.

PLANET Z

There had been some police brutality incidents, so people rioted and protested, and city councils and mayors threatened to reduce and cut police funding.
Cops began to retire or transfer to rural departments in greater numbers than usual.
A few national guard units went into the cities, and some federal troops went in to assist.
“How dare you!” shouted governors and city councils and mayors.
Riots and protests continued, and general crime went on the rise, too.
Then, a few city councilors and mayors themselves were mugged and assaulted.
They demanded action by the police.
“Fuck you,” said the cops.

Weekly Challenge #751: Camp

NOTE: I figured out what was wrong with the Yeti AFTER I recorded this. Bad cable. Oh well. Getting a new cable when I get the new system this week.

Blep

LIZZIE

What if I lived right there where the butterflies swayed in the air?
What if I lived right there?
The birds chirped, and flew away.
What if the narrow streets were alive to the brim with color? And not gray with emptiness?
What if the tears didn’t rain down the walls alive with the whiteness of summer?
What if the butterflies weren’t gone, and the birds?
What if I lived there, right there, and not here in the middle of the forest by a sizzling fire?
I want to go back to that small town where the narrow streets smiled.

RICHARD

Arrrrrr…

Captain Blackbeard’s Pirate Themed Holiday Camp didn’t quite turn out as we’d expected.

The brochure had promised ‘adventure on the high seas’, and ‘swashbuckling exploits and drama’, served up with a ‘healthy dash of good old-fashioned plank walking, keel hauling and deck scrubbing’.

Unfortunately, the keel hauling and deck scrubbing were precisely that, and as for our fellow pirates…

A bunch of bloodthirsty Somalian ex-fishermen, who treated us like scum and thought nothing of putting us in the firing line when the navy arrived.

Beats me how they managed to get those five star reviews on Trip Advisor!

SERENDIPIDY

When they told you not to camp in the woods, you really should have listened to their advice.

When they told you it wasn’t safe to be out alone in the wild, you should have heeded their words.

When they said you’d be miles from help, with no phone signal and no means of rescue should you fall in harm’s way, you should have taken them seriously.

Because now, in the darkness, lost, alone and frightened, all of that now makes perfect sense.

But, don’t worry, you’re not entirely alone…

Because I’m here too.

And I’m coming to get you!

TOM

The Camp

The edge of the camp was growing. Each day some half dead child would stand at the fence. Sometime with an adult, more often alone. Most stared blankly with an expression of deep indifference, a total sapping of actionable resolve. A few, not many, still had a fire in their eyes. Mac was called when these faces appeared. He needed that fire and long had learned how to uses that rage to the benefit of the camp. Keeping these children in a group also allowed for successful assimilation, or in the sadder cases extreme relocation. “Greater good,” he say

NORVAL JOE

As Billbert carried Linoliamanda up above the battle he saw that the two camps were vastly different. While the super villains had destroyed the superhero headquarters, the heroes were mostly unharmed and outnumbered the villains by five to one.

Billbert flew Linoliamanda home, landing on her front porch. “When you fell on Benedict Arnold, I thought you were a goner.”

She smiled then clasped a hand to her bloody forehead. “Nothing could make me a traitor to you, Billbert.”

“Thanks, I guess,” he said. “We should probably tell your parents what happened and get you checked out at the hospital.”

TODD

The Yahoo Messenger video chat with my future wife abruptly ended with, “Gotta go!” when the shooting started.

Outgoing orange tracers from the south tower marked an aggressive conversation. An M240B barked a throaty command. An unseen AK-47 wisecracked a response. I radioed QRF when the perimeter breach red flare illuminated the sky adding an exclamation point.

Reaching the tower, I saw the soldier and his Iraqi guard duty buddy assaulting the cement barrier of the civilian dining facility.

“What are you shooting at?” I yelled.

“There are a bunch of dudes running around in there!”

“You mean the cooks?”

Camp Caldwell Coordinates: 33.727597, 45.236648

PLANET Z

We sent the kids off to camp.
All kids should go off to camp.
They will learn many things at camp.
That’s what the state says, that all kids should go off to camp and they will learn many things, so we send our kids to camp.
When we were kids, we were sent off to camp.
And we learned many things at camp.
Sometimes, kids do not come home from camp.
Those are the ones who learned the wrong things.
Or could not be taught the right things.
If that happens, we go off to camp.
And don’t return.

Weekly Challenge #750: PICK TWO: a new beginning, library, Ireland, storyteller, friends, home

Basket case

LIZZIE

The deal included shipping the stuff across the ocean and delivering it safely.
But the stuff wasn’t delivered.
“What’s going on? You don’t know where Hong Kong is?”
He got off the phone and… there it was, the ship. Empty.
“Where’s the stuff? It’s worth millions.”
No one knew.
Well, the source did. They were testing everyone’s loyalty.
Hong Kong didn’t like it.
Updated offer. “Incoming delivery. Free.”
A new crew had to be hired because heads were removed from their respective bodies and shipped back.
“Now, send us the stuff. Hong Kong has more brilliant ideas. Yes, we do.”

RICHARD

The Storyteller

The storyteller gazed at us in the firelight, smiled, and eased himself into a more comfortable position.

We waited expectantly, hoping that – just for once – he’d give us something decent, something with a different ending that didn’t have the dragon being defeated, the hero marrying the girl, and everybody living happily ever after.

But, as always, it wasn’t to be.

You see, our storyteller would simply recycle the same old tale, with the same characters and the same outcomes, time after time.

He would never give us a surprise ending…

Always the same old story, but with a new beginning.

SERENDIPIDY

My circle of friends like to get together for the occasional evening of board games, and being somewhat obsessive, we like to dress up and make things as realistic as possible.

So, for snakes and ladders, everyone brought candy snakes and wore laddered tights; for Monopoly, we all got blinged-up, smoked cigars and drank champagne; and for mousetrap, we ate cheese and played using sugar mice instead of counters.

This week, we’re playing Cluedo.

I won’t tell you who the victim’s going to be, but I’ve already prepared a hefty length of lead pipe, safely stashed in the library!

NORVAL JOE

Billbert realized, he didn’t like the old man. “What do you mean, Linoliamanda’s not important? She’s my only friend.”
The man didn’t gain any points when he said, “Consider it a chance to start over. Make new friends.”
Billbert headed toward the car and super villains.
“Where are you going?” his mother asked.
“I’m getting Linoliamanda and taking her home.”
Billbert dove forward and flew, skimming, inches above the asphalt of the parking lot. He circled around behind the villains, shot forward and scooped up Linoliamanda, carrying her quickly up into the air.
She hugged Billbert tightly and kissed him.

TOM

An Ireland Tale

I went to visit my ancestral home in Ireland. Story goes my Irish forefather were doctor to the Munster Kings. Not the TV family, the kickass warriors of central Ireland. It is so far south in Cork, you danm near fall off the island. Which is just what the structure was moving toward. What the home lacked in roof it made up in walls. Stone laced with thicket of berries. The berries were wining. Folk in the village said no had live on the land for nearly a century. Still is where I came from, but not likely where I will end.

RICK THOMAS

Ridin’ The Pine

98 years old, born in Hughesville … and would die here soon enough. Never really left.

Small town … mostly farmers …
back then … and now.

At 98 … friends, neighbors, most everyone you knew … dead and gone …

Life gets lonely.

Harry liked to sit in the park, and talk with whoever would stop to listen. And Harry’s stories made it worthwhile. Harry had a story for every street, store, and vacant lot in town … New most everyone’s grandparents …

… WHEN THEY WERE LITTLE KIDS!

Born for this …
Sitting on this wooden bench …
Telling these stories had always been his destiny.

A valued community treasure!

CALEDONIA

Seanchai Sunday
by Caledonia Skytower

Something rustled in the trees like an incantation – a voice pregnant with speech. “Who’s there,” I thought, rather than asked aloud.

“I’m here.” murmured a reply, “The news has reached me. It’s in the wind.”

I marveled at the instinct that triggered this message. “What news?”

“‘Not all those who wander are lost’ the poem says. Well, we have a place for you. Come home, and be welcomed.”

The storytellers speak of fresh starts. Library volumes add to their veracity. It was time.

So we did, and thanks to a friend, a new beginning rose on the dawn horizon.

PLANET Z

I remember my first library card.
It was paper with a metal piece with some kind code they’d crimp into the book slip.
Over time, they got barcodes and a magnetic strip and those RFID chips like credit cards.
In college, I used my student ID for that and my meal plan. More for my meal plan than the library, to be honest.
Now, I just sign in from home, and download a temporary digital book or movie.
I don’t even know where the library is anymore.
They need to keep some real books or computers or stuff somewhere, right?

Weekly Challenge #749: Pick a card… any card!

Kitchen Cat

LIZZIE

The postcards came from everywhere in the world.
The director thought of finding pen pals for the residents of the home.
“Pick a card. Any card!”
Everyone was thrilled.
Everyone, except Mr. Morris whose card was the only one left. An unknown town in the middle of nowhere… “I didn’t get to pick. Now I’m stuck with this…” He waved the card in the air dismissively.
“Be grateful, Mr. Morris.”
Grateful, huh… When the police found the card Mr. Morris hadn’t picked shoved in the director’s throat, Mr. Morris was long gone… That unknown town would now become quite famous.

RICHARD

Magical

My wife took me out for a meal for my birthday – it didn’t turn out quite as she expected.

They had one of those wandering table magicians, harassing diners as they waited for their food.

“Pick a card he said… any card”

So I pulled a business card from my wallet, and slid it across the table.

“No!” he protested, “pick a card from the deck!”

I looked around, “we’re not on a ship”, I replied.

“Take a card from the ones I’m holding”, he snarled through clenched teeth.

“Or you’ll do what?” I countered.

That’s when he punched me.

TURA

Pick a card… any card!
———
General Wei went disguised among the people. In a small town, a travelling circus had set up. A conjurer spread a pack of cards to the crowd, saying, “Pick a card, any card!” General Wei took a card, and with it suddenly slashed open the face of the pickpocket behind him.

He explained to the bystanders, “As a boy, my father told me, ‘To see how the trick is done, watch his other hand.'” Pointing to the pickpocket, he said, “Behold this conjurer’s other hand!”

Thereafter, travelling entertainers avoided the town, calling it Zhùlìngshǒu, or “They Watch The Other Hand”.

TOM

Pick A Card Any Card

Funny in lockdown I created a Trick called Seven Sevens. It starts with
three people picking, a card any card, show it around, then place it face
down on the table. I the magician deal down seven cards in row. On top of
each card deal six more. Have these three turn their back. I the magician
move the selected cards under piles #3, #4, #5. The three turn towards the
table. One collects the seven pile into one. I do an elimination deal till
only 6 cards are left. I discard #1, #2, #6. Remain car are the selected.

SERENDIPIDY

Don’t look so frightened, we’re going to play a game.

You may have heard of ‘Cards Against Humanity’, well this is very similar, it’s something of my own design, given my own unique twist.

In this stack of cards, we have a whole range of scenarios that we will be acting out; and the other – a delicious assortment of weapons, tools and medical instruments.

I choose a card that dictates your eventual fate.

And you, choose one to determine how we get there.

Mine says: ‘You are to be skinned alive, using a…’

Your turn: Pick a card, any card.

NORVAL JOE

The super villains remained hidden behind their car.
“What are our options, Mom?” Billbert asked.
A gray haired old man piped up. “We don’t know what Nuclear Fission is capable of. Any action on our part is a wild card. So, take a card…”
Just then Linoliamanda stood up and turned dizzily. She wandered directly to the super villains and collapsed onto Benedict Arnold.
“Linny!” Billbert shouted, wanting to run to her aid. “She’s under their power, now.”
The old man put his hand on Billbert’s arm. “Don’t worry about it son. She’s a normal. We haven’t lost anyone important.”

RICK THOMAS

Your Fate Is In The Cards
—————————————-

Funny thing … business cards. Always offered as something that might help you, but, really just a greedy businessman trying to line his pockets with your dough.

Filthy, germ ridden, bacteria laden, disgusting cards!

I say no thanks, walk away. Every once in awhile though they don’t take no for an answer. They insist, press the dirty thing into your hand … UGH!

Now it’s personal!
I keep those!

Sealed in plastic I hold them until the time is right, I select one, and act.

Sometimes a slashed tire, broken window, or maybe a fire …

… Sometimes a bullet to the skull.

PLANET Z

I’ll pay by credit.
Pick a card, any card.
Sure, there’s different names on them, but they’re all me, I swear.
Okay, so they’re not all me now, I’m me right now, but they’re all my past and future lives.
They just happen to all exist concurrently.
I’m me right now, but I was Alice DeSantis before, and I’ll be Johnathan Grimsby next.
So, I have every right to their money… well, my money, as they do.
As do they have to mine, if I had any.
I wonder if I keep getting karmically regenerated to learn not to steal.

Weekly Challenge #748: Traitor

Basket case cat

LIZZIE

He had copied those documents. He was a traitor. And yet, he was enjoying the show, drooling over the obscene amount of money hidden in his backpack.
The head dancer had tucked away the papers under the mattress with a nod of indifference.
He tried to kiss her, but she blocked him with an assertive arm.
On his way home, the security goon beat him to a pulp. “She is mine.”
When he got home, the cops had a search warrant.
Good thing the goon had robbed him of all his money.
Being a traitor often has its lucky moments.

RICHARD

Traitor

“It seems we have a traitor in our midst!”

Hans paced the room, his eyes boring into us, intensely probing.

“Well, rest assured, I shall find you. And, when I do…”

He drew a finger slowly across his throat, a twisted grimace on his face.

“Don’t think I won’t get to the bottom of this!”

He turned smartly on his heel and marched out, slamming the door behind him.

We breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“I told you he’d be like this,” I remonstrated, “Now, own up, before he loses it completely. Who emailed everyone the Secret Santa names?”

SERENDIPIDY

They called me a traitor, said I’d brought shame to my people. They said I’d turned my back on the cause and dishonoured my heritage.

I told them to go to hell and that I had the right to live my life as I wished, and heritage, or not, that’s exactly what I was going to do.

Coming out as a vegan when you’re a vampire isn’t without its perks however.

I became a huge celebrity and the money started rolling in.

Enough to buy up the clan’s land, before I mortgaged them into poverty.

Who’s the bloodsucker now?

TOM

Always Choices

Some called him traitor, must called him monster. I called him Dad. In the
beginning he saved 1000s of lives. In the end he let 1000s die. It wasn’t
out of malice or a case of over-reaching maglomynomicness. He started a
good man, and ended one, in his heart. It was matter of resources, then
fewer resources. Who do you save? The old and wise, the strong, the very
young, In the end it was those who could bring new souls into the world.
Since I am not one of them, last thing I see now is my father’s eyes.

NORVAL JOE

Linolamanda sat up as Billbert ran back toward her and the super villains. That was good. If she was alright, he could focus his attention on the two remaining criminals.
“Billbert. Stop,” his mother called before he could get too close to the two hiding behind the car. The tone of her voice pulled him back.
“What is it, Mom?” he asked when he reached her.
“Don’t let that man touch you. He’s Benedict Arnold. Anyone who falls under his control becomes a traitor. We have to wait for Agent Shrink Wrap to get here. Only she can isolate him.”

RICK

Traitor

Michael, the son of a friend of a friend. The dead of winter … homeless, cold, and hungry. Warren took him in.

He was giving warm clothes … Nice clothes!
He was given good meals … and was actually getting fat!
A bed to sleep in … in a heated room.
A job with Fair pay … an opportunity to advance.

Treated like family.
Accepted as family!

Confidences betrayed, house rules were broken, secrets revealed. Honesty, integrity, and honor abandoned.

Michael was a traitor!

Fool me once, shame on you …
But never again!!!

Michael’s body was found in the park, his head was never found.

PLANET Z

A good magician never reveals his secrets.
Waldo the Magnificent wasn’t a good magician.
He was the son of a margin trader up in the Hamptons.
“He’ll grow out of it,” said his mother, buying another shelf of magic books and lessons for Waldo.
They sent him to one Ivy League school after another, but he preferred to do magic instead of studying, so the administration made him disappear.
Cut off and broke, Waldo blackmailed the Magicians Guild with revealing all the trade secrets.
They buried him in New Jersey and Long Island after cutting him in half for real.

Weekly Challenge #747: Beans

Bedcat

LIZZIE

Beans, the shark, swam across icy waters, happy to be alone.
His buddies preferred the South. They also enjoyed scaring people.
Beans didn’t. Too bloody, too messy, too loud. He could chew a leg as an appetizer, true, but the chaos was unbearable.
One day, Beans spotted a diver.
“No, don’t,” he thought.
He looked away. He looked away some more while swimming towards the diver. Then that scent of the diving suit…
When he swam away in shame, he decided to go farther North and become a hermit. That decision lasted… 3 days. That’s when he spotted another diver.

RICHARD

Jack

Jack was a lazy oaf. Unable to secure a job, he drove the household to the edge of poverty. One morning in desperation, his mother forced him to go to the market to sell the family cow and raise funds for food.

On the way he met a tramp who persuaded him to sell the cow for a handful of magic beans, assured to secure him an untold fortune.

His mother was singularly unimpressed, and flung the beans into the garden in a temper.

The beanstalks they produced, all wilted and died – Jack being far too lazy to tend them.

SERENDIPIDY

Who writes this stuff? I mean, it’s rubbish, just designed to shock with no thought for realism or authenticity.

Take this drivel I’ve been reading – ‘The Silence of the Lambs’: Almost believable up to the point Lecter gloats, “I ate his liver, with some fava beans, and a nice chianti.”

Complete nonsense!

Come on… Human liver, with a side of fava beans?

You need a rich accompaniment for human liver, fried onions along with a generous helping of crispy, fried bacon.

Thinly sliced back bacon is best. I’ve some curing in the cellar right now; carved from my latest victim.

NORVAL JOE

Billbert leaned over Linoliamanda and saw she was still breathing.
Nuclear Fission screamed. “Beans. Get him.”
Billbert looked. A tall slender man ran toward him. Suddenly, vines and tendrils grew from his fingers and wrapped around Billbert’s arms and chest.
Billbert panicked for a moment before leaping into the air and dragging String Bean up with him. He carried the struggling man to the superheroes gathering from the rubble of their former headquarters.
“Billbert. What are you doing here?” his mother gasped.
“Fighting super villains,” he said, and ran back toward Nuclear Fission and her companion hiding behind their car.

TOM

Where Am I going I don’t? All I know is I am On my Way

I get my love of musical theater from my mum. In the days when the average person owned a handful of albums, for the millennials amongst us that a streaming Mp3 craved into a circle of plastic, she had three Rogers and Hammerstein cast recordings. As I got older I added newer musicals to my playlist. High on that list was “Paint your Wagon” the principles were Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood. Image Dirt Harry and the Dirt Dozens as a musical. One of the rather sillier tune was called “Out the window go the beans” A song for our times.

RICK THOMAS

Bertha’s House

Berta did the cooking, big smile, big pots, that smell in the air. Many pitched in. It’s a neighborhood thing, we help our own, and folks get that. The homeless, junkies, runaways, unemployed, the working poor … if you’re hungry … come eat.

Beans of all kinds. Baked, black, pinto, Navy, kidney, and doctoring the beans was commonplace … onions, peppers, veggies and spices … on a good day meat!

Slice of bread, plastic spoon, a napkin.

Berta’s house … Loving thy neighbor … TODAY!

In this house …
We feed the hungry
We touch the lives of others
In this house we give thanks to God!

PLANET Z

I eat a lot of salad.
Probably not enough salad, considering my recent weight gain, but I still eat a lot of salad.
I chop up lettuce and vegetables, and then I store them in plastic containers in the refrigerator.
I also open cans of chickpeas, beans, and corn and put them in plastic containers so they’re ready for a quick salad.
Still, it’s a lot easier to tear open a bag of chips or pretzels and eat those instead of the salad fixings.
And a taco salad made with greasy tortilla chips is hardly a healthy salad at all.