I Regret Sleeping on That Couch

You’re a struggling musician who is playing small clubs on a summer tour across the country and who generally sleeps in your van. But one night, in a small town in (fill in the blank), a concertgoer offers to let you sleep on his/her couch. You take the offer, but by morning you regret it. Write a story that explains what happens.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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379 thoughts on “I Regret Sleeping on That Couch

  1. LatrelleSdgva

    I really do regret you sleeping on that couch five years ago an old man died on that couch then someone threw it away and it hasn’t been touched since dogs you it to poop and pee cats use the couch such as it is a loiter box.They couch also has been vomited on it is not very pleasant.The couch has a bad case of bed bugs.It was also rained over by a dump truck and it also had been in a landfill for 5 years so if you wanna sit on that couch
    do it but you will regret to sit on that couch.

  2. Doug Stone

    Pillows. A fort of pillows, he says.
    She says shush, he is probably hiding from his personal demons. And he can hear us.
    No way, he replies. We’re whispering from all the way over here. And he looks beat. Those late gigs and being on the road and all, he must be dead tired. So what’s with the pillows?
    It’s his way of blocking things out, she says.
    He gathered them from all over the house, he says. Throw pillows, pillows from the spare bedroom.
    He’s collected tokens of his comfort here, she says.
    That’s my psych major, always at the ready, he says.
    I remember how I met you, in that class, she says.
    Yeah, but then I moved on to engineering. You kept going all four years plus grad school, using it to always be sussing out my motives and Mommy hating. Heck, you did it for all the gang.
    Remember when we crashed on his couch, that first time? she says.
    How could I forget? And how we thought we were so quiet.
    Yeah, months later Mike’s girlfriend, what was her name again? She mentioned it on a girl’s night out. Could’ve died and fallen into my Cosmo.
    So we all three met in class. He sat in front. He did the minimum, just to get by. It was his token science class requirement as a music major. You could tell he just wanted to be strumming not sitting there that stupid serious look on his face.
    Yeah, you were easy pickings, she said. I saw right through your bravado, couldn’t wait to get you for my final analysis project.
    Yeah, look, I’m kinda sick of all that, you know, he says.
    Really, now?
    Yes. And I know you’re “helping make a difference” over at the center, but really.
    Really what?
    Really, you make a pittance. What a joke, he says.
    All this time, and you never gave that up to me. Wow, she says.
    Yeah, you really don’t know everything about me. Though you think you do.
    I know about those condoms.
    What? Those are for you. For play and stuff. They have ribs and colors and all.
    I don’t think so.
    Now you shush, he says. See, he’s moving around, might wake him up.
    And the motel charges. Really, I’m not a prude, but what’s keeping us together?
    What indeed. I think it’s time to move on. Tell your friend when he wakes up to go.
    My friend?! Yours too, she says.
    I’m gonna pack my things. It’s getting light out.
    Me too. I think we need a break.
    Mike wakes up and sadly watches them move down the hall.

  3. Amyithist

    It seemed like a good idea at the time. She was sexy and seemed vivacious and full of life; but, as I pried my eyes open and looked at my surroundings, I found myself incredibly confused. I sat up, wincing at the pain throbbing through the left side of my head. I heard the tinny clank of empty cans falling to the floor as I stood and began to gather my clothing. Maybe I can get out of here without her knowing…
    Groupies were always a little hard to read. Some were great. They offered a little warmth and comfort on an otherwise lonely road. Others were crazy and obsessed. I wasn’t sure which category the owner of the ratty brown couch belonged to and, to be honest, I didn’t want to find out.
    I pulled my pants on as I tiptoed through the dirty kitchen. Bowls of Chinese takeout littered the grimy table and mounds of unwashed dishes overflowed from the sink. I found myself thankful that I was still a little drunk as I made my way toward the back door. “Where are you going,” a voice sounded behind me.
    I turned, my eyes falling on an insanely gorgeous woman. She was wearing sweats and had her hair pulled up off of her face, but her natural beauty was captivating. She smiled at me and walked into the kitchen. I pulled my shirt over my head and sighed, scratching my unkempt tangle of hair.
    “I have to go,” I replied. “I have another gig in Portland and I’ll be late if I don’t get out of here right now.”
    She pulled her lower lip out into a pout; which normally aggravates me. But for some reason it made her even sexier. “Please don’t go,” she said in a sultry tone. She slipped around to the back of me and ran her hands down my chest. I felt small goosebumps rise over my skin.
    “I don’t even remember your name, love,” I said, trying my best to ignore the temptation to give into her and stick around for another romp. Her tongue lashed over the tip of my ear and I groaned as I turned to face her.
    Suddenly, she pulled a knife from under her sweatshirt and frowned at me. “You aren’t going anywhere,” she murmured. “You’re mine. You are ALL MINE!” As she screeched the final words, she lunged at me and I clamored back, my arms flailing as I stumbled into the wall. She ran a few steps more before I snapped out of my paralyzed stupor and turned, racing toward the door.
    Just as I reached the door, I heard a sickening thud behind me. I glanced back, my mind whirring with panicked thoughts. She was crumbled on the floor. Motionless. I felt a prickle of fear lace through me as I tentatively stepped forward. “Hey, you…you okay?”
    She didn’t respond. I knelt next to her and shook her gently. “Hey…” I suddenly realized she was bleeding as I turned her over. My hands began to tremor. She was DEAD!! Killed by her own knife. I raced back to the kitchen, pausing as I heard something strange coming from the darkened hallway. I listened intently. “HELP, SOMEBODY PLEASE!”
    My breath stalled as I ran down the hallway. The screams for help grew in volume and I stopped outside of a bedroom door. I swallowed and pushed the door open. “GET ME OUT OF HERE,” my drummer screamed. He was suspended in chains above the bed and looked as though he’d spent the whole night getting beaten and tortured.
    I untied him and helped him down. He lay against the bed for a few moments, gasping and coughing. “Oh my God, Jess, I thought I was going to die up here,” he cried.
    “What the hell happened, Andy” I asked.
    “It’s a long story,” he said. “Let’s just get the hell out of here.”
    Nodding, I pulled him up and helped him out of the house. His eyes flashed as he looked down at the dead groupie, blood now pooling over the dingy carpet. “Good riddens,” he spat. We hobbled out of the house and down to the van. I helped Andy into the passenger seat. As I climbed behind the wheel, he laid against the window and began to laugh nervously. “Lets never hook up with another groupie again, huh?”
    I nodded slowly. “Deal.”

    1. isaacstowe5

      O my gosh this tale is such an amazing piece. I enjoyed every second of it. I look forward to reading more narratives like this. Thanks for the entertain,along with the good laughs and chilling introduction.

  4. PGS

    ¬¬¬¬¬As the music teacher at Ludlow Junior/Senior High School, I usually work summers. The extra income helped a lot, especially as the kids grew up. But this summer I decided it was time to see “if I still got it”. Well maybe a little bullied into deciding may be closer to the truth. It all started in my third period Music Appreciation class. We were discussing the struggles musicians go through becoming “overnight successes”. Somehow that conversation morphed into some of the gigs I played before becoming a teacher. The next thing I knew we were discussing my tour this summer.
    I suspect this decision had something to do with the “…but you’re getting too old Mr. Johnson …,” comments the students seemed to get a kick out of making.
    “It all just kind of happened.” I tried to explain to Kathy that evening. (Having a whole new appreciation for that phrase!) ”Deciding to spend a month traveling the country with your guitar and keyboard is not the kind of thing that just happens”, she had said back in March. Eventually, after some discussions, (including the, “…getting older… comments), she came around and was actually as excited about my tour as I was.
    Now, about three weeks, 10 states and 18 shows later and sleeping in my not so new blazer, the excitement was wearing thin. So when the owner of the Old Toad in West Hamlin offered his guestroom and his wife’s cooking I was all over it. The gig didn’t end until midnight, so by the time we got to Jack’s house it was after 1am. I wasn’t sure which I wanted more, a soft bed or a hot meal.
    Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run blared out, making further conversation impossible when we opened the front door of the small ranch. “Turn that Fu**** crap off Jill, we got company!” Yelled Jack. The music suddenly stopped, followed by warm, wonderful and unfamiliar smells.
    Placing my shoes on the purple rug in the hall, I was beginning to understand the phrase “be careful what you wish for”. To the right was the orange walls and red appliances of the kitchen. On the left was the living room. Orange shag carpet covered the floors and 3 out of the four walls. A huge brown oversized, and extremely comfortable looking, sofa took up most of the room and faced the 70inch TV. Down the hall were two bedrooms, separated by a bathroom, covered in pink, green and orange flowered wallpaper, including the door!
    Jill, in tight yellow jeans and a tie die t-shirt, greeted me with a big hug, patting my behind as she led me to the guest bedroom. The muted red light reflected the Bruce Springsteen and Kiss posters that covered the walls and ceiling. “Freshen up, Possum pie, gravy and peach pie with Cool Whip in five minutes.” She said, giving my butt another slap. I was beginning to understand the phrase “be careful what you wish for”.

  5. bilbobaggins321

    I’ve been working on this one for a few days, so, unfortunately, I missed the chance for some replies, but here goes anyways.

    RAYS OF HOPE

    The old, tan-timbered two-story surfaced out of the wispy fog some ghostly reminder of my past intentions, of the dreams that flittered through back when I wasn’t lost. That nemesis that I thought time would heal came creeping back like a wounded panther, all too ready to destroy me until I was whole again.

    “So this is the house?” Vague senses of apprehension suddenly stabbed inward.
    “Yeah, yeah… you can sleep on the couch, if that’s fine with you,” the driver replied lowly.

    The guy had picked me up just after the gig, his SUV coasting to a stop in front of the glass door, tapping his fingers as he waited for me to pack my guitar and exit. Anticipating some complaint, its only purpose to further drench my thin clothes with the cold, I had faltered, and then ambled over to his window.

    One stunted comment had led to another, until he asked if I could go with him to his house. It was such an unusual occurrence that I had to actually wait a second to process it. For most people, rock musicians are the kind of people you appreciate from a distance, but quickly retreat from once they start getting stoned in their apartment building and scribble crazed yelps on the stairwell. But, hey, why have the luck stop now? I already had a number from the brunette two aisles back.

    I hopped inside, the cold silence only interrupted by the blinking of the turn signal. He seemed to casual type, an L.L.-Bean wearing, Maine native who was stuck with an old house in the middle of nowhere in the aftermath of a will divvy-up. Coupled with a good taste in pop music, dabbling in book-writing, and story prompts, he seemed the very good, moral individual.

    The house drew nearer, the old Victorian style, with a full wrap-around porch and bay windows. A brand-new, red pickup sat on the driveway, but he pulled beside it without a word.
    “Come along. I’ll get you set up. Hungry?”
    “Nah…” Our doors slammed, and he walked me into the place.

    “We’re in the middle of renovating the kitchen,” he explained, dusting a few chips of paint off the wall with his jacket sleeve. “Help yourself to whatever.”
    He disappeared to somewhere. I popped open the Coke, chugging down the fizz. I felt strangely uncomfortable. The long nights of wondering all led to this, of clutching at the steering wheel, wondering, would I get a break tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. Tours and gigs, the people just didn’t care. Restless dreams piled over until they had been thrust through into hopelessness.

    Strains of beautiful melodies of times past erupted as I walked over the floorboards. I heard creaking above me, crushed up the can. The guitar was set on a seat in the living room, and I walked through an arch to where I had placed it, nearly disappearing into the comfy couch. I couldn’t believe my luck; this felt like two heavens had been combined into one piece of furniture.

    The man was back, his jacket off. In the corner of my eye was the digital clock- 10:00. The sun had just barely set, and the fog deepened outside the panes. He stood uncertainly in one corner of the room.
    “I really liked the performance. How long you been performing?”

    “Five years now.” My fingers brushed the case. Five nomadic, crumb-filled years.
    “Can I hear a few songs again?” he asked. Although there was no hope of a tip now, I slid open the Gibson case and strummed out some chords. The small talk continued until 11, when he finally dragged himself off to sleep upstairs, and the comfy couch was all mine for the spoils.

    It was easy falling asleep. The lush fabric surrounded me, and the green blanket kept out the cold of winter, unlike in the van, where temps could drop well below zero and I would be so tired from shivering I would eventually fall asleep, and wake up with crystals on all of the windows.

    But after I got to unconsciousness came the hardest part. I had to face myself once again

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a very descriptive tale, bilbobaggins, entertaining from stem to stern. My only question is what makes this night more regrettable than any other; it sounds like the main character is dragging his hell around with him all the time.

      1. bilbobaggins321

        Well, the original story that I made was around 1,400 words, and it explained everything. His mother died a long time ago and he left home to go seek some gigs around the nation, and this night in Portland was the closest he’d been to home in five years. I just had to split the story in two. (In the second half, he actually attempts suicide, but the other guy stops him and send him on the road to a better life by opening up himself as well).

  6. Rocinante

    I had eight crumpled dollar bills in my pocket, my grandaddy’s banjo across my back, and not a place to go when the barman took last call.

    The gig had been typical. A tavern in a small Appalachian town, a cramped stage, a couple of old drunks hunched over a billiards table, both too caught up in their game to notice my soul laid bare. The only thing that hadn’t been typical was the woman.

    From on stage she looked young, but when I got close I could see lines around her mouth, years in her eyes, and streaks of silver in her auburn hair. She was finishing her night’s last beer and eyeing me like a hunter sizing a buck before the kill.

    “You aren’t from here,” she said. There was no trace of the local drawl in her words.

    “Neither are you.”

    She smiled. “You don’t have anywhere to go.”

    “No. I don’t.”

    “I’m called Sadie.”

    “Warren.”

    “I’ve got a couch.”

    She didn’t ask questions. She didn’t waste words. She drained the last of her beer, set the bottle aside, and slid off her stool.

    “I wouldn’t want to intrude,” I said, trying not to sound eager. I could hear rain lashing across the corrugated roof and the wind rustling the pines outside.

    “I wouldn’t have offered if it was an intrusion.”

    ***

    The couch was really just an old oak frame with a few mismatched cushions laid across it, but it was warm and it was dry.

    My van was parked out front of the house beside Sadie’s truck.

    What hope I’d had of getting more than a place to sleep was laid to rest when Sadie left me to the couch and slipped into her room. I laid down alone.

    When you’ve been on the road long enough you learn to sleep when and where you can get it. You also learn never to sleep too soundly. When the back door opened I awoke. It was still dark. The rain had stopped but the wind was still bellowing fiercely through the valley.

    I grabbed my banjo by the neck just as the lights came on.

    “Who in the hell are you?” said a very big man with a thick beard, a heavy gut, and a camouflaged vest. He stomped out of the kitchen and fixed me with a glare full of mean drunkenness.

    I stood, brandishing my banjo like a club, and backed away from the couch.

    He advanced. “What are you doing in my wife’s house?”

    “I’m leaving,” I said.

    “Like hell you is.”

    The door to the bedroom flew open and out strode Sadie in a nightgown. She peered down the twin barrels of a shotgun leveled square at the man’s chest.

    “I told you not to come here. I told you I found someone else.” She glanced at me and I could see a anger smoldering behind her eyes. “This is Warren. He’s been waiting all night for you to show your sorry hide. Tell him, Warren. Tell him he’s not wanted here and to get out if he knows what’s good for him.”

    “Get out,” I said half to the bearded man and half to myself. “You aren’t wanted here.” With each word I edged closer to the exit, to my escape. When I felt the brass knob press into my back I spun on my heels, ripped the door open, and flew out of Sadie’s house with my banjo still poised to be swung.

    I scrambled into my van and punched the ignition. The engine coughed and sputtered in protest, but when I slammed my foot down on the pedal the van lurched out of Sadie’s driveway. A blast like a thunderclap resounded inside the little house. I shifted into drive and slammed my foot down again, not daring to look back.

  7. Rocinante

    I had eight crumpled dollar bills in my pocket, my grandaddy’s banjo across my back, and not a place to go when the barman took last call.

    The gig had been typical. A tavern in a small Appalachian town, a cramped stage, a couple of old drunks hunched over a billiards table, both too caught up in their game to notice my soul laid bare. The only thing that hadn’t been typical was the woman.

    From on stage she looked young, but when I got close I could see lines around her mouth, years in her eyes, and streaks of silver in her auburn hair. She was finishing her night’s last beer and eyeing me like a hunter sizing a buck before the kill.

    “You aren’t from here,” she said. There was no trace of the local drawl in her words.

    “Neither are you.”

    She smiled. “You don’t have anywhere to go.”

    “No. I don’t.”

    “I’m called Sadie.”

    “Warren.”

    “I’ve got a couch.”

    She didn’t ask questions. She didn’t waste words. She drained the last of her beer, set the bottle aside, and slid off her stool.

    “I wouldn’t want to intrude,” I said, trying not to sound eager. I could hear rain lashing across the corrugated roof and the wind rustling the pines outside.

    “I wouldn’t have offered if it was an intrusion.”

    ***

    The couch was really just an old oak frame with a few mismatched cushions laid across it, but it was warm and it was dry.

    My van was parked out front of the house beside Sadie’s truck.

    What hope I’d had of getting more than a place to sleep was laid to rest when Sadie left me to the couch and slipped into her room. I laid down alone.

    When you’ve been on the road long enough you learn to sleep when and where you can get it. You also learn never to sleep too soundly. When the back door opened I awoke. It was still dark. The rain had stopped but the wind was still bellowing fiercely through the valley.

    I grabbed my banjo by the neck just as the lights came on.

    “Who in the name of fuck are you?” said a very big man with a thick beard, a heavy gut, and a camouflaged vest. He stomped out of the kitchen and fixed me with a glare full of mean drunkenness.

    I stood, brandishing my banjo like a club, and backed away from the couch.

    He advanced. “What in the hell are you doing in my wife’s house?”

    “I’m leaving,” I said.

    “Like hell you is.”

    The door to the bedroom flew open and out strode Sadie in a nightgown. She peered down the twin barrels of a shotgun leveled square at the man’s chest.

    “I told you not to come here. I told you I found someone else.” She glanced at me and I could see a anger smoldering behind her eyes. “This is Warren. He’s been waiting all night for you to show your sorry hide. Tell him, Warren. Tell him he’s not wanted here and to get out if he knows what’s good for him.”

    “Get out,” I said half to the bearded man and half to myself. “You aren’t wanted here.” With each word I edged closer to the exit, to my escape. When I felt the brass knob press into my back I spun on my heels, ripped the door open, and flew out of Sadie’s house with my banjo still poised to be swung.

    I scrambled into my van and punched the ignition. The engine coughed and sputtered in protest, but when I slammed my foot down on the pedal the van lurched out of Sadie’s driveway. A blast like a thunderclap resounded inside the little house. I shifted into drive and slammed my foot down again, not daring to look back.

  8. stoked

    As I work through the opening chords of my closing song I lock eyes with a blue haired girl with milky white skin. She’s wearing black leather pants, blacker lipstick and a torn Ramones t-shirt that hangs seductively from her thin shoulders.

    I break into the first verse of the song and she starts to sing along with me. From across the room we sing a seductive duet, the crowd disappearing as I stare into her eyes.

    I reach the end of the song and stand to thank the crowd. They acknowledge my efforts with raucous cheering as I take a final bow. I work my way off the tiny stage scanning the room for her.

    I finally spot her walking towards me “Looking for me?” she says with a playful smile.

    “Maybe” I respond casually, trying to hide my excitement.

    We grab a corner table and order a couple of drinks. We talk about love, music, loss and loneliness. She asks me about life as a musician and if there is a family back home waiting for me. I tell her back home is just a distant memory, faded by years on the road.

    “Lets get out of here” she whispers. I nod and she leads me out the back door to the parking lot.

    “Where to now?” she asks. I point towards my van in the corner of the lot “We can go to my place” I tell her. She laughs and suggests that her apartment might be slightly more comfortable.

    We reach her apartment and she pours out two glasses of wine. We sit on her worn overstuffed sofa and talk for hours about anything we can think of, our conversation flows like reunited friends after years apart.

    After several glasses of wine I start feeling drowsy, the long day of travel and performing have worn me out.

    “You look exhausted you should get some rest” she tells me.

    “Sounds like a good idea, which way is your bedroom?” I say with a wink.

    “Hey I’m not some easy groupie” She responds “The couch will have to do…for now.”

    I laugh softly “Well you can’t blame a guy for trying.”

    She finds me a couple of blankets and tucks me in, giving me a long kiss before telling me goodnight.

    I wake up to the sound of shouting. Someone is extremely angry and that someone is standing over me with a shotgun in their hands. The cold barrel is against my forehead and the look in his eyes tells me he means business.

    “Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my house!” he screams.

    “um…I…uh was invited.” I stammer.

    “You’ve got about five seconds to get the hell out of here!” he shouts.

    I quickly gather my things and rush out the door. As I run down the sidewalk I look back towards the house and I see my blue haired angel at the upstairs window, smiling, waiving goodbye.

    1. Observer Tim

      Ooh, ouch! He got played. The storytelling was excellent and entertaining, and the ending definitely made it an evening to regret. The girl is quite a piece of work for setting him up like that.

      One thing I’m curious about now, though. Is the man with the shotgun the girl’s father or husband? It could go either way; I got the impression she was fairly young.

      1. stoked

        Thank you! This is actually the first piece of fiction I’ve ever written.

        In my original draft it was the girl who was holding the shotgun. That version was well over 1000 words and I ended up tossing that story line while trying to edit it down to 500 words.

        While writing it I was imagining the man was her husband and that she had lured the musician home to make him jealous. You have a good point though it could have been easily been her father.

          1. stoked

            That makes two of us! The poor guy is lonely and thinking he has made a real connection with the girl. I’m guessing this sort of thing has happened to more than one traveling musician over the years.

  9. Doug Langille

    ** I guess this’ll be somewhere in the middle of a larger work I’m developing (Haley’s Triad) **

    I should have trusted my instincts. The girl, calling herself Haley, possessed a wild look about her. Despite the frame of a teenage girl. Haley put out the vibe that she was no kid.

    The town where my van finally gave up the ghost wasn’t much of a town at all: one street with a gas station on each end. I asked the mechanic what kept people here. He said, “pulp mill”. That was it. No details. He was that kinda guy.

    I needed the coin and it was only dumb luck that the roadhouse across from the garage found itself in sudden need of a Thursday-night act. A lot of people were sick or missing these days, not just here. The world wasn’t quite right and it made me antsy. Ben said he’d have me back on the road by noon the next day. That was fine with me.

    I was finishing my second set when this chick walked in. She looked at me then nodded to the bartender, holding up three fingers.

    “Name’s Haley,” she said as she handed me a beer and saluted me with the other. The other wobbly-pop sat on the bar. “My brother’s working on your wheels.”

    I took a long pull from the bottle. “Thanks, Haley. I’m Jimmy. Small town?”

    “You have no idea. Ben says it looks like you sleep in that van. That won’t happen tonight. Shop’s locked up for the night.”

    “I didn’t think so. Figured I’d go cowboy camping,” I said, pointing to my bedroll. Actually, Chuck, the owner of this shithole, offered me the cot out back. I don’t know why I lied to her.

    “You can stay in the spare bed at our house tonight. Just remember that I have a gun. I’m also very good with knives.”

    That last bit was a little bizarre, but I let it go. “I believe you. What about Ben?”

    “What about him?” she said and smirked.

    A real bed had been a rare treat lately; it was a hard thing to turn down. One last set and too many beer later, I stumbled back to her place. She had to hold me up and I kept apologizing. I remember being curious about her strength. It didn’t match her stature.

    I woke the next morning in a yellow room awash with bright sunlight. My head ached but I was clear. The days of my blackouts were long gone. A shadow filled the doorway and spoke.

    “Sis said you were gentlemanly, last night. I argued about extending hospitality, but she won, as usual.”

    “Good morning, Ben, is it? That’s what Haley said. What time is it?”

    “10 a.m., Jimmy. Day’s half shot. Anyway, your van’s fixed. It’s a piece of shit, but it’ll keep you rolling.”

    “What do I owe you?”

    “Just a favor,” said Jimmy and he left me to get dressed.

    Haley was cooking eggs and bacon; three plates were set, with steaming coffees at each spot. I sat down and grasped a mug to stop the shaking. It burned but I ignored it. Blackouts no, tremors yup. Mornings were the worst.

    “Jimmy plays a mean guitar, Ben,” said Haley. “You missed a great show.” She put the pan on a breadboard in the center of the table. “Dig in,” she said.

    We ate for a bit. There’s magic in a greasy breakfast that dispels the ravages of a rough night. I was curious about Ben’s mysterious favor.

    “This hits the spot, Haley,” said Ben.

    “You got that right. Thanks, Haley.” I looked to her brother. “You said something about a favor. What do you need from me?”

    The siblings exchanged looks and Ben nodded to Haley. He was clearly uncomfortable. She shifted in her chair.

    “You’re heading north, right?” she asked.

    I nodded. My next few gigs were peppered that direction.

    “I need to hitch a ride.”

    “Where are you headed?”

    “Any place not here. They’re coming.”

    “Who?”

    “I can’t tell you.”

    “This is all a little weird for me,” I said. “Just want to do my thing. Thanks for putting me up and fixing the van. I’ll pay…”

    Ben slammed his fist on the table, making all the flatware jump. “Things went bad here, Jimmy. She won’t tell me how or why, but she’s no longer safe in town or anywhere. Too many….” He trailed off, shook his head, cleared his throat and looked me square in the eye. “You keep my sister safe. Stay moving. Don’t let her be alone.”

    “Please, Jimmy,” said Haley.

    1. calicocat88

      So many things I could say about this! The dialogue was great–my kind of dialogue ;) The plot is interesting, the setting a little grungy. I could see myself really getting involved with the characters. You left the reader with the right amount of questions. I enjoyed this thoroughly, Doug. Terrific job! I sooo want to know what else happens here.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Great job, Doug. You’ve come roaring back. This definitely needs to be expanded, at least into a novella, maybe a book. Follow through with this story, you’ll see your writing credits on a movie screen. I’m not kidding you. You have a real winner here. So many avenues to go to, forward and backwards.

  10. writeandwrong

    I woke feeling suddenly suffocated by the skin-like warmth of the leather sofa beneath me.
    Over the lopsided armrest, I could see through a door-less entryway into the kitchen. A digital microwave clock just inside glowed 12:03 PM.
    I vaguely remembered the face of the girl who had brought me here. Jenna? Gina?
    I sat up and grimaced, letting my eyes adjust to the sunlight pouring in around me. I reached blindly into the folds of the sofa, groping for my keys.
    “Decided to join the land of the living, I see.”
    There stood the girl from last night, pants-less, her auburn hair an unruly mop over her eyes. She assessed me, as if I was the one half-clothed. A snake of smoke slithered off the tip of the cigarette between her fingers.
    Don’t look at her legs, stop looking at her legs. You’re still looking at her legs.
    She smirked, curling a leg under herself as she joined me on the sofa.
    The hem of her t-shirt crept precariously high up her thigh. I choked on my saliva. I tried to say something, but I sputtered, eyes tearing from the temporary deprival of oxygen.
    “Hmm,” she smiled.
    I sat rigidly, both hands fisted around the strings of my sweatshirt.
    “What’s your deal?” she nudged my shoulder.
    My eyes flicked to her bare knees then back to her taunting gaze.
    “Oh, Jesus Christ.” She pulled her shirt over her legs and curled herself into the opposite corner of the sofa. “What are you, some kind of prude? Isn’t that like a freaking unicorn in the music world?”
    “Neigh,” I shrugged.
    “Funny.”
    She gazed out the window behind my head, taking a long drag from her cigarette.
    After 21 seconds of piercing silence, she stood suddenly.
    I didn’t want to stare at her legs again, so I let my eyes wander.
    She disappeared down a corridor adjacent to the kitchen, smashing her cigarette into the soil of a potted plant on the way.
    I couldn’t imagine her living here; it all just seemed so vanilla compared to her. Beige walls with framed paintings like the abstract pastel stuff in hospital waiting rooms. A table set for four, complete with fancy cloth napkins.
    “—and the front door opens into a welcoming foyer and—EXCUSE ME, WHO ARE YOU!” A blond in a skirt suit and a middle-aged couple stood gaping at me.
    “I was—I just—“ I looked around helplessly as if an answer would materialize, and it hit me. This wasn’t Bare Legs’ house.
    “Maybe we should call the police,” the man of the couple said.
    “Wait, no!” I pleaded, jamming my wallet and phone into the pocket of my sweatshirt. Where were my keys?
    Too late, Skirt Suit was already dialing.
    “I need to report a squatter,” she said into her phone, glaring at me.
    I shoved past them onto the front lawn.
    My van (with all my gear)—and Bare Legs—were nowhere in sight.

      1. writeandwrong

        Thanks for the feedback, Observer Tim, I appreciate it. You’re correct, I’m a newcomer. I was fascinated when I found this site and intrigued even more so when I saw this prompt. You will definitely see more of me around :)

  11. writeandwrong

    I woke feeling suddenly suffocated by the skin-like warmth of the leather sofa beneath me.

    Over the hump of the lopsided armrest, I could see through a door-less entryway what was presumably the kitchen. A digital microwave clock just inside glowed a green 12:03 PM.

    I vaguely remembered the face of the girl who had brought me here. Jenna? Gina?

    I sat up and grimaced, letting my eyes adjust to the sunlight pouring in around me. I reached blindly into the folds of the sofa, groping for my phone, wallet, and keys.

    “Decided to join the land of the living, I see.”

    There stood the girl from last night, pants-less, her auburn hair an unruly mop over her eyes. She assessed me, as if I was the one half-clothed. A snake of smoke slithered off the tip of the cigarette between her fingers.

    Don’t look at her legs, stop looking at her legs. You’re still looking at her legs.

    She smirked and walked over, curling a leg under herself as she joined me on the sofa.

    The hem of her t-shirt crept precariously high up her thigh. I choked on my saliva. I tried to say something, but I sputtered, my eyes tearing from the temporary deprival of oxygen.

    “Hmm,” she smiled.

    I sat rigidly, both hands tightly fisted around the strings of my sweatshirt.

    “What’s your deal?” she nudged my shoulder.

    My eyes flicked to her bare knees then back to her taunting gaze.

    “Oh, Jesus Christ.” She pulled her shirt over her legs and curled herself into the opposite corner of the sofa. “What are you, some kind of prude? Isn’t that like a freaking unicorn in the music world?”

    “Neigh,” I shrugged.

    “Funny,” she said, gazing out the window behind my head. She took a long drag from her cigarette.

    After 21 seconds of piercing silence, she stood suddenly.

    I didn’t want to end up staring at her legs again, so I let my eyes wander.

    She disappeared down a corridor adjacent to the kitchen, smashing her cigarette into the soil of a potted plant on the way.

    I couldn’t imagine her living here; it all just seemed so vanilla compared to her. Beige walls, some with framed paintings like the abstract pastel stuff in hospital waiting rooms. There was a table set for four, complete with fancy cloth napkins.

    “—and the front door opens into a welcoming foyer and—EXCUSE ME, WHO ARE YOU!” A blond in a skirt suit stood at the front door, with a middle-aged couple, all three of them gaping at me.

    “I was—I just—“ I looked around helplessly as if an answer would materialize, and it hit me. This wasn’t Bare Legs’ house.

    “Maybe we should call the police,” the man of the couple said.

    “Wait, no!” I pleaded, jamming my wallet and phone into the kangaroo pocket of my sweatshirt. Where were my keys?

    Too late, Skirt Suit was already dialing.

    “I need to report a squatter,” she said into her phone, glaring at me.

    I shoved past them through the front door.

    My van (with all my gear inside)—and Bare Legs—were nowhere in sight.

  12. Silver Sister

    “Hello, darlin’.”

    I stilled. Even after a decade, that baritone voice stirred me. He always reserved that greeting just for me; it was also the title of my favorite classic tune.

    When I turned, I wasn’t disappointed. Dan widened his arms for a hug. In that moment, I was no longer Layne Moreau. I was just 16 year-old Leah Miller, writing songs with my boyfriend and dreaming of becoming the next Tim and Faith.

    “You’re really doing it, aren’t you?” He squeezed me.

    “You liked the show?”

    “Loved it.”

    I squeezed back. “What are you doing in Louisville?” He was a long way from home. Then again, so was I.
    “We live here now.”

    I stepped back. “We?”

    “My wife and I.”

    It took cost no effort to smile and congratulate him. I never figured he’d been languishing away, pining for me. We chatted easily until he asked where I was staying. “Um.” I would die before admitting to sleeping in my van. “There’s a problem with my hotel reservation.” Yeah, they require money. “I haven’t made other plans, yet.”

    Out came that smile that could con me into anything. “Stay with us, tonight.”

    “What would your wife say?”

    “Jo is special.” His voice deepened. “I’d like you to meet her.”

    I normally refuse invites home. With Dan, though, I knew I wouldn’t end up in 15 different mason jars in his fridge. So, I followed him to a big, two-story house. Light shone from the windows. “Good,” Dan said, as we walked the cobblestone path to the porch. “She waited up.”

    More curious than anxious, I let him lead me into the great room. A pregnant redhead glanced up from a popular parenting book. Surprise, I thought. For both of us. “Jo, meet my high school runnin’ buddy, Layne Moreau. Layne, this is my wife, Jolene.”

    Hearing him introduce me by my stage name surprised me. I understood, though. People who knew me before I rechristened myself never know what to call me. Jolene was so warm and happy, I nearly forgave her. She yawned ferociously. “Sorry. Pregnancy just tuckers me out.”

    Dan’s smile was indulgent. “Go on up to bed. I’ll get Layne settled.”

    I skipped the guest room crammed with baby paraphernalia and opted for the luxuriously overstuffed sofa. The blanket wasn’t thin and scratchy like the one in my van. I should’ve conked right out. But I couldn’t.

    Dan’s attitude irked me. Did he have to be so comfortable around me? Did Jolene have to feel so unthreatened? So much for the intensity of first love! I flopped to my side. “Ugh, go to sleep, egomaniac.”
    If he didn’t care, neither did I. Tomorrow, I vowed, I’ll use his hot water, eat his food and be on my merry way. Easy peasy.

    Over French toast, talk turned to their baby girl. I dipped another sausage into my syrup. “Have you picked a name?”

    “The most perfect one! Danny suggested the first name and I added the middle.” Jolene gazed affectionately at Dan, but the contents of his coffee cup riveted him. That didn’t dampen her enthusiasm. Instead, she beamed at me. “Leah Danielle.”

  13. Silver Sister

    “Hello, darlin’.”

    I stilled. Even a decade later, that baritone voice stirred me. He always reserved that greeting just for me; it was also the title of my favorite classic tune.

    When I turned, I wasn’t disappointed. Dan widened his arms for a hug. In that moment, I was no longer Layne Moreau. I was just 16 year-old Leah Miller, writing songs with my boyfriend and dreaming of becoming the next Tim and Faith.

    “You’re really doing it, aren’t you?” He squeezed me.

    “You liked the show?”

    “Loved it.”

    I squeezed back. “What are you doing in Louisville?” He was a long way from home. Then again, so was I.

    “We live here now.”

    I stepped back. “We?”

    “My wife and I.”

    It took cost no effort to smile and congratulate him. I never figured he’d been languishing away, pining for me. We chatted easily until he asked where I was staying. “Um.” I would die before admitting to sleeping in my van. “There’s a problem with my hotel reservation.” Yeah, they require money. “I haven’t made other plans, yet.”

    Out came that smile that could con me into anything. “Stay with us, tonight.”

    “What would your wife say?”

    “Jo is special.” His voice deepened. “I’d like you to meet her.”

    I normally refuse invites home. With Dan, though, I knew I wouldn’t end up in 15 different mason jars in his fridge. So, I followed him to a big, two-story house. Light shone from the windows. “Good,” Dan said, as we walked the cobblestone path to the porch. “She waited up.”

    More curious than anxious, I let him lead me into the great room. A pregnant redhead glanced up from a popular parenting book. Surprise, I thought. For both of us. “Jo, meet my high school friend, Layne Moreau. Layne, this is my wife, Jolene.”

    Hearing him introduce me by my stage name surprised me. I understood, though. People who knew me before I rechristened myself never know what to call me. Jolene welcomed me warmly. She was happy and kind, I nearly forgave her for marrying Dan. She yawned ferociously. “Sorry. Pregnancy just tuckers me out.”

    Dan’s smile was indulgent. “Go on up to bed. I’ll get Layne settled.”

    I skipped the guest room crammed with baby paraphernalia and opted for the luxuriously overstuffed sofa. The blanket wasn’t thin and scratchy like the one in my van. I should’ve conked right out. But I couldn’t.

    Dan’s attitude irked me. Did he have to be so comfortable around me? Did Jolene have to feel so unthreatened? So much for the intensity of first love! I flopped to my side. “Ugh, go to sleep, egomaniac.”

    If he didn’t care, then neither did I. Tomorrow, I vowed, I’ll use his hot water, eat his food and be on my merry way. Easy peasy.

    Over French toast, talk turned to their baby girl. I dipped another sausage into my syrup. “Have you picked a name?”

    “The most perfect one! Danny suggested the first name and I added the middle.” Jolene gazed affectionately at Dan, but the contents of his coffee cup riveted him. That didn’t dampen her enthusiasm. Instead, she beamed at me. “Leah Danielle.”

  14. Silver Sister

    “Hello, darlin’.”

    I stilled. Even a decade later, that baritone voice stirred me. He always reserved that greeting just for me; it was also the title to my favorite classic tune.

    When I turned, I wasn’t disappointed. Dan widened his arms for a hug. In that moment, I was no longer Layne Moreau. I was just 16 year-old Leah Miller, writing songs with my boyfriend and dreaming of becoming the next Tim and Faith.

    “You’re really doing it, aren’t you?” He gently squeezed me.

    “Did you like the show?”

    “Loved it.”

    I squeezed back. “What are you doing in Louisville?” He was a long way from home. Then again, so was I.

    “We live here now.”

    “We?”

    “My wife and I.”

    It cost no effort to smile and congratulate him. I figured he hadn’t been languishing away all these years, pining for me. We chatted easily until he asked where I was staying. “Um” I’d die before admitting I sleep in my van while on tour. “There was a problem with the hotel reservation.” Yeah, they require money. “I haven’t made other plans, yet.”

    Out came that smile that could con me into anything. “Stay with us.”

    “How would your wife feel about that?”

    “Jo is special.” His voice deepened. “I’d like you to meet her.”

    I normally refuses invites home. With Dan, though, I felt confident I wouldn’t end up in 15 different mason jars in his fridge. So, I followed him to a big, two-story house. Lights shone in the windows. “Good,” Dan said, as we walked the cobblestone path to the porch. “She waited up.”

    With more curiosity than anxiety, I let him lead me into the great room. A pregnant redhead glanced up from a popular parenting book. “Jo, meet a high school runnin’ buddy of mine, Layne Moreau. Layne, this is my wife, Jolene.”

    Hearing him introduce me by my stage name threw me, but I understood. People who knew me before I rechristened myself never know what I call me. Jolene welcomed me so warmly and cheerfully, I almost forgave her marrying Dan. During our conversation, she yawned ferociously. “Sorry. Preganancy tuckers me out.”

    Dan’s smile was indulgent. “Go on up to bed. I’ll get Layne settled.”

    I skipped the guest room crammed with baby paraphenalia and opted for the luxuriously overstuffed sofa. This blanket wasn’t thin and scratchy like the one in my van. I should’ve conked right out. But I couldn’t.

    Dan’s attitude irked me. Did he have to be so comfortable around me? Did Jolene have to feel so unthreatened? So much for the power of first love! I flopped on my side. “Ugh! Just go to sleep, egomaniac.”

    If he didn’t care, I didn’t care. Tomorrow, I vowed, I’ll use his hot water, eat his food and be on my merry way. Easy peasy.

    Over French toast, talk turned to their baby girl. I dipped another sausage into my syrup. “Have you picked out a name?”

    “The most perfect one! Danny suggested the first name and I added the middle.” Jolene gazed affectionately at Dan, but the contents of his coffee cup riveted him. That didn’t dampen her enthusiasm. Instead, she beamed at me. “Leah Danielle.”

  15. Silver Sister

    “Hello, darlin’.”

    I stilled. Even after a decade, that baritone voice stirred me. He always reserved that greeting just for me; it was also the title of my favorite classic tune.

    When I turned, I wasn’t disappointed. Dan widened his arms for a hug. In that moment, I was no longer Layne Moreau. I was just 16 year-old Leah Miller, writing songs with my boyfriend and dreaming of becoming the next Tim and Faith.

    “You’re really doing it, aren’t you?” He squeezed me.

    “You liked the show?”

    “Loved it.”

    I squeezed back. “What are you doing in Louisville?” He was a long way from home. Then again, so was I.

    “We live here now.”

    I stepped back. “We?”

    “My wife and I.”

    It took no effort to smile back at him. I never figured he’d been pining for me. We chatted easily until he asked where I was staying. “Um.” I would die before admitting to sleeping in my van. “There’s a problem with my hotel reservation.” Yeah, they require money. “I haven’t made other plans, yet.”

    Out came that smile that could con me into anything. “Stay with us, tonight.”

    “What would your wife say?”

    “Jo is special.” His voice deepened. “I’d like you to meet her.”

    I normally refuse invites home. With Dan, though, I knew I wouldn’t end up in 15 different mason jars in his fridge. So, I followed him to a big, two-story house. Light shone from the windows. “Good,” Dan said, as we walked the cobblestone path to the porch. “She waited up.”

    More curious than anxious, I let him lead me inside. A pregnant redhead glanced up from a popular parenting book. Surprise, I thought. For both of us. “Jo, meet my high school friend, Layne Moreau. Layne, this is my wife, Jolene.”

    Hearing him introduce me by my stage name surprised me. I understood, though. People who knew me before I rechristened myself never know what to call me. Jolene was so warm and happy, I nearly forgave her. She yawned ferociously. “Sorry. Pregnancy just tuckers me out.”

    Dan’s smile was indulgent. “Go on up to bed. I’ll get Layne settled.”

    I skipped the guest room crammed with baby paraphernalia and opted for the luxuriously overstuffed sofa. The blanket wasn’t thin and scratchy like the one in my van. I should’ve conked right out. But I couldn’t.

    Dan’s attitude irked me. Did he have to be so comfortable around me? Did Jolene have to feel so unthreatened? So much for the intensity of first love! I flopped to my side. “Ugh, go to sleep, egomaniac.”
    If he doesn’t care, neither do I. Tomorrow I vowed to use his hot water, eat his food and be on my merry way. Easy peasy.

    Over French toast, talk turned to their baby girl. I dipped another sausage into my syrup. “Have you picked a name?”

    “The most perfect one! Danny suggested the first name and I added the middle.” Jolene gazed affectionately at Dan, but the contents of his coffee cup riveted him. Instead, she beamed at me. “Leah Danielle.”

  16. Silver Sister

    “Hello, darlin’.”

    I stilled. Even after a decade, that baritone voice stirred me. He always reserved that greeting just for me; it was also the title of my favorite classic tune.

    When I turned, I wasn’t disappointed. Dan widened his arms for a hug. In that moment, I was no longer Layne Moreau. I was just 16 year-old Leah Miller, writing songs with my boyfriend and dreaming of becoming the next Tim and Faith.

    “You’re really doing it, aren’t you?” He squeezed me.

    “You liked the show?”

    “Loved it.”

    I squeezed back. “What are you doing in Louisville?” He was a long way from home. Then again, so was I.
    “We live here now.”

    I stepped back. “We?”

    “My wife and I.”

    It took no effort to smile back at him. I never figured he’d been pining for me. We chatted easily until he asked where I was staying. “Um.” I would die before admitting to sleeping in my van. “There’s a problem with my hotel reservation.” Yeah, they require money. “I haven’t made other plans, yet.”

    Out came that smile that could con me into anything. “Stay with us, tonight.”

    “What would your wife say?”

    “Jo is special.” His voice deepened. “I’d like you to meet her.”

    I normally refuse invites home. With Dan, though, I knew I wouldn’t end up in 15 different mason jars in his fridge. So, I followed him to a big, two-story house. Light shone from the windows. “Good,” Dan said, as we walked the cobblestone path to the porch. “She waited up.”

    More curious than anxious, I let him lead me inside. A pregnant redhead glanced up from a popular parenting book. Surprise, I thought. For both of us. “Jo, meet my high school friend, Layne Moreau. Layne, this is my wife, Jolene.”

    Hearing him introduce me by my stage name surprised me. I understood, though. People who knew me before I rechristened myself never know what to call me. Jolene was so warm and happy, I nearly forgave her. She yawned ferociously. “Sorry. Pregnancy just tuckers me out.”

    Dan’s smile was indulgent. “Go on up to bed. I’ll get Layne settled.”

    I skipped the guest room crammed with baby paraphernalia and opted for the luxuriously overstuffed sofa. The blanket wasn’t thin and scratchy like the one in my van. I should’ve conked right out. But I couldn’t.

    Dan’s attitude irked me. Did he have to be so comfortable around me? Did Jolene have to feel so unthreatened? So much for the intensity of first love! I flopped to my side. “Ugh, go to sleep, egomaniac.”
    If he doesn’t care, neither do I. Tomorrow I vowed to use his hot water, eat his food and be on my merry way. Easy peasy.

    Over French toast, talk turned to their baby girl. I dipped another sausage into my syrup. “Have you picked a name?”

    “The most perfect one! Danny suggested the first name and I added the middle.” Jolene gazed affectionately at Dan, but the contents of his coffee cup riveted him. Instead, she beamed at me. “Leah Danielle.”

  17. Silver Sister

    Hi! I know this post is probably a little late. I’ve never posted here before, but when I read the prompt, something clicked. Keeping to 500 words was murder, but I guess that’s part of the fun. Thanks for reading.

    *******
    “Hello, darlin’.”

    I stilled. Even after a decade, that baritone voice stirred me. He always reserved that greeting just for me; it was also the title of my favorite classic tune.

    When I turned, I wasn’t disappointed. Dan widened his arms for a hug. In that moment, I was no longer Layne Moreau. I was just 16 year-old Leah Miller, writing songs with my boyfriend and dreaming of becoming the next Tim and Faith.

    “You’re really doing it, aren’t you?” He squeezed me.

    “You liked the show?”

    “Loved it.”

    I squeezed back. “What are you doing in Louisville?” He was a long way from home. Then again, so was I.

    “We live here now.”

    I stepped back. “We?”

    “My wife and I.”

    It took no effort to smile back at him. I never figured he’d been pining for me. We chatted easily until he asked where I was staying. “Um.” I would die before admitting to sleeping in my van. “There’s a problem with my hotel reservation.” Yeah, they require money. “I haven’t made other plans, yet.”

    Out came that smile that could con me into anything. “Stay with us, tonight.”

    “What would your wife say?”

    “Jo is special.” His voice deepened. “I’d like you to meet her.”

    I normally refuse invites home. With Dan, though, I knew I wouldn’t end up in 15 different mason jars in his fridge. So, I followed him to a big, two-story house. Light shone from the windows. “Good,” Dan said, as we walked the cobblestone path to the porch. “She waited up.”

    More curious than anxious, I let him lead me inside. A pregnant redhead glanced up from a popular parenting book. Surprise, I thought. For both of us. “Jo, meet my high school friend, Layne Moreau. Layne, this is my wife, Jolene.”

    Hearing him introduce me by my stage name surprised me. I understood, though. People who knew me before I rechristened myself never know what to call me. Jolene was so warm and happy, I nearly forgave her. She yawned ferociously. “Sorry. Pregnancy just tuckers me out.”

    Dan’s smile was indulgent. “Go on up to bed. I’ll get Layne settled.”

    I skipped the guest room crammed with baby paraphernalia and opted for the luxuriously overstuffed sofa. The blanket wasn’t thin and scratchy like the one in my van. I should’ve conked right out. But I couldn’t.

    Dan’s attitude irked me. Did he have to be so comfortable around me? Did Jolene have to feel so unthreatened? So much for the intensity of first love! I flopped to my side. “Ugh, go to sleep, egomaniac.”
    If he doesn’t care, neither do I. Tomorrow I vowed to use his hot water, eat his food and be on my merry way. Easy peasy.

    Over French toast, talk turned to their baby girl. I dipped another sausage into my syrup. “Have you picked a name?”

    “The most perfect one! Danny suggested the first name and I added the middle.” Jolene gazed affectionately at Dan, but the contents of his coffee cup riveted him. Instead, she beamed at me. “Leah Danielle.”

  18. rainiemills

    Whew, look at this place, a whistle escaped my lips as I pulled in the drive. My eyes couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A sprawling mansion lay before the windshield of my beat up tour van. An impeccably manicured lawn surrounded the palace, as I will refer to it from now on. I hit the jackpot. Who would have thought that such a small town in in the backwoods of Michigan could host such a monument. The mousy brunette that made the generous offer waved as I approached the house.

    “Thanks for accommodations, it’s always nice to get a break from sleeping in my van.” I slide past her slinging my guitar around my shoulder.

    “I am honored to have you, I have a soft spot for musicians.” Her tone made me pause, but the thought of sleeping in this place and not the back of my van quickly squashed my hesitation.

    “You will be sleeping in the den, on the couch.” Apparently she’s not big on conversation I think as I followed her to a room bigger than any apartment I have ever lived in. The domed ceiling had a perfect rendition of Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel painting. The furnishings however, completely void with the exception of a couch that sat awkwardly out of place in the center of the room.

    “You should be to bed soon, and I would not suggest getting up in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.” Another red flag that I dutifully ignored.

    “Thank you, again.” I smiled as she turned silently and left me in the empty room. I flop down on the couch tossing my guitar to the side. Within minutes the lights in the room went out. Rising from the couch I then realized my mistake. As soon as my foot hit the ground I heard the sound of gears grinding, then I felt the room start to spin. Fear took over as I took another step, this one caused laser beams of light to shoot across the room, I touch one only to get a jolt of electricity. This situation was not good. How could two steps have sent me so far away from the couch? I try again, and yet another roadblock in my path was created, this time spikes on the floor. Every step I thought I was getting closer, something would happen and the room would turn again and disorient me. Six hours into this tortuous ordeal I see a red light on the wall. How did I miss that, the videocamera record light blinked tauntingly. That is my beacon out of here. Using the camera as my compass, I navigated my way back to the couch and lay awaiting my release.

    Sunlight streamed through the window, illuminating a path to the door that would lead me to safety. I took a chance, grabbed my guitar and ran.

    My night of torture, turned into a youtube sensation within minutes of my escape. Come to find out, my marketing manager is a genius and had orchestrated the whole thing for publicity!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Very clever and imaginative take on the prompt. I liked the twisted ending. Someone escaped on this prompt, without bodily harm. Well, there’s always a first and never the last. Looking forward to your post next week.

  19. Laura Shepperd

    I was so pumped after my gig at the Rendezvous 4 U, even though it was two-thirty in the morning, I still wasn’t sleepy. So, when Pauly offered to let me do laundry and crash at his place (Holiday Inns don’t comp rooms for their visiting artists), I was glad to have something productive to do.
    His place was just down the road, he said. “No big deal.” He tossed me a tall boy from a cooler in the back of his El Camino, and I stuck it between my legs and started up my van. I’m broke all the time, so if it’s free, it’s for me. Turns out, Pauly’s trailer was right across from the park’s community laundry mat. “Suds,” the sign declared, with its name anchored between a frosty mug and a soapy basket of laundry.
    “Beer suds will cost ya, but the laundry’s free,” Pauly said. “Helluva deal.”
    He told me to make myself at home, pointed left to a bedroom at the end of the hall, and headed to bed down the hallway to the right. There were only bunk beds in my room, so I decided to sleep on the couch. Some big-haired blonde had been sending me free shots all night, and I didn’t want to bust my ass or bang my head getting up to find the John later.
    I made sure I had all the clothes I owned because the laundry was free, and, like I said, I’m always broke. After I mashed all my clothes in a washer and dumped in some washing powder I’d found on a folding table, I grabbed my guitar from the back of my van. There was a beer tap behind a paneled bar, and nobody around to tend it. I made sure I was alone, found a Big Gulp cup and helped myself to a brew. This is a helluva deal, I thought. I grabbed my guitar and had settled in a burnt-orange plaid couch when it occurred to me that I might as well wash all my clothes. So, I stripped naked, put my boots back on, pulled myself another brew and returned to the couch.
    I could barely see the sheriff’s face for the morning sun in my eyes. He was standing over me laughing, and his deputy was running from one washing machine to the next, opening the lid and saying, “No sir, not a stitch in this one either,” after each one. There were some ladies huddled in the far corner, whispering.
    “Ain’t no clothes in any ‘em? Boy, you wanna try to tell your story again, maybe with a little more truth to it?” he asked. “And quit that squirming and turning. Like I said, there ain’t been a trailer in that lot across the way for years.”
    And there I sat . . . wearing nothing but my guitar over my privates and my boots on my feet.

    1. zmiley

      whoa, that’s embarrassing to be caught like that! Though I wasn’t able to picture the positioning of the trailer and Laundromat. It seems a little fuddled- was it in the trailer? or across the road? Also, the phrase “I grabbed my guitar” is used twice pretty close together– just a technicality. Overall, interesting take on the prompt!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Sounds like one of my dreams. If I had a dollar for every dream I ran around, having lost most or all I was wearing, I’d be a rich man. Truly funny story. KC

    2. snuzcook

      Nice little Twilight Zone twist. A trailer park, free laundry and a couch to sleep on–tho it was confusing when the couch seemed to be in the trailer, but then ended up in the Suds place across from the trailer. Regardless, the idea of the story was fun and a nice take on the prompt.

      1. Laura Shepperd

        Yes, I should have taken out the reference to the couch in the trailer once I knew where my poor guy was going. Thanks, guys! This is the first time I’ve participated, and it was fun to write and to read.

  20. JustinT

    When I collected the one hundred and fifty dollars from the club owner, I knew immediately I didn’t want to play music again. Six years and I was barely making gas money touring the country. The only thing that kept me pursuing music was a signed Rolling Stone magazine with Eric Clapton on the cover hanging in my van.

    When I left through the double doors and stepped outside on the sleek sidewalk, I caught the glaring reflection from the light posts on a sheet of ice. I inhaled a sharp knife from the winter air, feeling my lungs cringe deep within my body. I held my breath on the way to the van.

    When I crossed the street, I heard someone call out my name. I turned to see a slim blonde in a black leather jacket wave at me. I squinted at her for a moment, only to see if it was me she was waving at. I looked around and saw nobody. Reluctantly I shrugged and stepped toward her.

    “Jack Ross,” she said, “one hit wonder.”

    Was she flirting?

    “I love your records,” she said.

    I joked, “All two of them.”

    “And the unplugged album. You are by far the hottest Indy artist out there.”

    I heard this shit all the time. She probably wanted a picture so she can post it on Facebook and tell her friends she slept with a musician. That seemed to be the craze with some of my groupies, especially when I played, “Sweet Violet.”

    “I don’t have any autographed pictures to give away,” I said, cutting to the chase.
    She shrugged that off and smiled. She had an adorable smile that revealed a set of perfect teeth, straight and white. Her red lipstick seemed to invite me in and I found myself gazing at what could have been one of my most beautiful fans.

    “How about you come to my place,” she said. “You can crash on my couch.”

    I glanced back at my van. Anything seemed better then sleeping on a bunch of blankets.

    “You can bring your little friend too,” she said, reaching down and patting my guitar case.

    In thirty minutes, I found myself standing in her living room glancing at pictures of her and her sisters that were mounted over the fireplace. She lived an interesting life – one that was filled with adventure. I became fixated on the scene of her drinking a beer in front of a stage.

    “Was that a Third Eye Blind concert?” I asked.

    I heard her snap two tops off of beer bottles. She walked around her bar and handed me one. “Yep! One of my favorites.”

    “Good band.” I downed the beer.

    “Your favorite band?” she asked.

    “Probably…” Something didn’t feel right. I wobbled in my knees and before I knew it I was lying face down on the ground, drifting into a deep sleep. She had poisoned me.

    When I woke up hours later with the sun skimming across the blinds and hitting my face, I glanced down my body to see my hands and feet tied together. A bandanna was tied around my mouth, soaked with saliva as I gagged on it.

    “Oh, you’re awake,” she said. She entered the living room holding a steak knife and wearing my face that was cut from some music magazine. “I probably should have told you about my obsession.”

    1. jhowe

      That was a well written story JustinT. A good mix of great narrative and crisp dialogue. This prompt almost requires some crazy person to be involved and you pulled it off nicely.

      1. jhowe

        I see now that my comment may be construed as me calling you crazy. Bad Jhowe… sorry, I meant the character with the couch has to be crazy. If you are crazy though, never mind.

  21. JanKees

    It’s that bitter taste and dried meat smell from smoking two packs of Camel Filters that woke me up along with the heat and smell of recycled plastic fibers coming from burning carpet. Instantly my sense of preservation made me jerk my head up and I expected the rest of my body to follow: first my hands and arms pushing the bulk up, my chest rising, then the sensation of my knee giving the final push off the couch, feet ready to sprint the final ten to the door. Instead, arms remained on my side, feet helplessly wriggling together, whole body unable to move, like I’m tied up. Bound inside a burning house. I felt pain throbbing in my face, and noticed the four other bodies bound, on the floor a few feet from the flame. I’m panicking now. Instead of images from my childhood days playing cop and chasing robbers, playing doctor with the little nurse next door, and baseball, flashbacks from the night before in fast forward play incoherently in front of my eyes…

    The Stink Fists are the latest of a long line of acts I’ve graced with my hide-beating skills. Back in the 90’s, when white kids ran away from home, black kids smoked crack, and missing people who will never be found were advertised on milk cartons, The Stink Fists burned the roofs off many a venue for $5 or less a pop. Drugs, shitty luck, and reckless accounting kept us upstarts from taking off, but those were the reasons why a clog of high-school dropouts from Libertyville got together to do the dog and pony show in the first place. Among the trolls I was the natural pick for drummer. I developed a tapping tic from taking psych drugs for lack of give-a-screw while growing up so transitioning to drums went smoothly. Brett and Anyos played guitar, and both wanted to sing but can only gargle spit. DP is Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ clone, he ended up in the singing role because he won’t stop crying when we first decided that The Stink Fists can only have members who know how to play an instrument. However he already looked like the singer for Hootie & The Blowfish who were big at the time, and it helped us get attention. It was easy putting a band together then, even easier to break up and fall into other expensive drug-induced hobbies. Our first gig was in a crappy warehouse in front of 1,000 hostile, jeering teenagers. Tonight, not much has changed. Our band manager, Amy, a hard-nosed Latina whose been around the block several times with a look that tells she’s killed someone before, hooked us up with these gigs. She started off as a mild-mannered, shy lingerie model for a has-been agency in her 20’s, her penchant for hard drugs and abusive partners turned her into her current persona: violent on a good day, homicidal during rainy ones. She owes favors all over the local Chicago Cartel Community and this show is one of those favors repaid. The Stink Fists, for all their prestige, is just a sideshow freak in these “concerts.” The real purpose of these events is nothing more than a large-scale drug bazaar where kilos of meth and cocaine are sold to patrons right next to where they buy their beer and concert t-shirts. Kids come from all the suburbs of southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, bored out of their minds with lunch money to spend. On a given night, these “concerts” bring in over a million dollars in drug sales alone. Any screw-ups in these gigs in the form of police busts and gangfights usually result in one or two casualties just to deter anyone from holding up the Cartels’ bread and butter. The past twenty years went by long enough to make sure all five of us got tossed to other inconsequential acts like a Vegas hooker on fight night, and did not add enough money to our names so we had to roll another Stink Fist out, hopefully for the last time. If not, Brett and Anyos are looking to score some young birds tonight, at least we can let some aggression out on whoever that poor little sob is going to be.

    That familiar gut-twisting feeling came over me when I remember something important, pulling the memories from last night into focus. Bile rushes up my gullet flavoring my spit with a pungent taste as everything comes flooding back. After the show, we agreed to spend the night here at the apartment of one of Amy’s sicario buddies, a welcome change to our typical bunking arrangements in my 8 feet by 6 feet van. Hazy memories of Brett sitting on a Lazy-Boy, half-crazed and fully drunk while Anyos bandaged his broken arm, cursing the Latin bouncer who put him in this painful predicament during the show flashed intermittently. DP passed out next to Amy who sat at the edge of the couch talking nervously in Spanish with someone on the phone, while I was sitting on a chair in the dining room puffing on endo and doing lines of Marching Powder while half-sarcastically agreeing with Brett’s hate speech. All was going well when a monster of a person kicks the apartment door open, followed by three goons who had the look of fresh-off-the-block parolees, screaming “whore” and “I will kill you” in Spanish at Amy. At this point time slows down to a stop. The door kicker hits Amy on the right side of her head with a pistol, goon #2 drops his boots hard on Brett’s broken arm then sends Anyos flying across the floor with a punch to the throat, DP was rabbit punched with the butt of goon #3’s pistol, and the last thing I remember was the yellow cross at the bottom of goon #4’s boots as it closes in on the middle of my forehead.

    Now, If I were those goons, I would take the time to tie up the dickheads who got in the way of a gang hit as well. As I lay choking, I realized no one I know is going to miss this bunch. Smoke fills up the house down to the floor and I don’t think I can breath for much longer. The rest of The Stink Fists are probably dead by now. What a fucking night. A wasted life has no right to complain in the end, right? Nothing but a weekday headline on Channel 10, “Junky Band Gets Just Desserts After Apartment Cigarette Fire.” Then why do I still feel like I want to shove glass inside the eyeball of that piece of shit who kicked me in the face?! Fack! I’m gonna get you, bitch! Get me out!

  22. Silver Sister

    “Hello, darlin’.”

    I startled. And not just because I thought I’d been alone. Even a decade failed to diminish the effect of that baritone voice. He had always reserved that greeting for me – knowing it was also the title of my favorite classic tune.

    When I turned, I wasn’t disappointed. Dan opened his arms. In them, I was no longer Layne Moreau. I was just 16 year-old Leah Miller, writing songs with my boyfriend and dreaming of becoming the next Tim and Faith.

    “You’re really doing it, aren’t you?” He gently squeezed.

    “You liked the show?”

    “Loved it.”

    I squeezed back. “What are you doing in Louisville?”. He was a long way from home. Then again, so was I.

    “We live here now.”

    I stepped back. “We?”

    “My wife and I.”

    It took no extra effort to smile. I knew he hadn’t been pining for me. We chatted easily until he asked where zI was staying.

    “Um.” I would die before admitting I was sleeping in my van. “There was a problem with the hotel.” Yeah, they require money. “I haven’t made other plans, yet.”

    That smile could always con me into anything. “Stay with us tonight.”

    “How would your wife like that?”

    “Jo is special.” His voice deepened. “I’d like you to meet her.”

    I usually refuse invites home. With Dan, though, I felt confident I wouldn’t end up in 15 different Mason jars in his fridge. So, I followed him to a big, two-story house. Lights blazed in the windows. “Good,” Dan said, as we walked the cobblestone path to the porch. “She waited up.”

    More curious than anxious, I let him lead me into the great room. A pregnant redhead glanced up from her novel. Surprise, I thought. For both of us. “Jo, meet a high school friend of mine, Layne Moreau. Layne, this is my wife, Jolene.”

    She was so warm and gracious, I nearly forgave her for marrying Dan. During our conversation, she shared they were having a girl. Jolene yawned ferociously. ” Sorry. Pregnancy just tuckers me out.

    Dan’s smile was indulgent. “Go on up to bed. I’ll get Layne settled.”

    Later, I luxuriated in the overstuffed sofa. The blanket was thick and soft. Not thin and scratchy like the one in the van. I should’ve conked out. But I couldn’t.

    Dan’s casual attitude irked me. So much for the power of first love. Did he have to be so comfortable around me? Did Jolene have to feel so unthreatened? “Ugh. Go to sleep, egomaniac.”

    If he doesn’t care, I don’t care. Makes it easier. Tomorrow, I’ll use his hot water, eat his food and be on my merry way.

    Over French toast, talk turned to their impending arrival. “Have you picked a name?”

    “The most perfect one! Danny suggested the first name and I added the middle.”. Jolene gazed affectionately at Dan, but the contents of his coffee cup riveted him. That didn’t dampen her enthusiasm. She beamed at me. “Leah Danielle.”

  23. Chase

    Hell, he knew the words to the song. He was the only one. Everyone had known “Rain”, having been on Indie Rock Stations in the Midwest twelve years ago, but no one knew the painful lyrics I’d penned in “Candidly Somber”. And no one had really cared. Not that I expected them to. But this kid, a 17 year old kid, knew my song. The piece was released on YouTube, Spotify, and Facebook only. No iTunes or Amazon. Sorry, Billboard. No one knew the new stuff. No one but Kevin.
    Kevin was a bright kid. Eyeing him during the show was not a difficult task; he had been front center, his face radiating crimson due to the lighting in The Mix (Rollo, Missouri’s best underground music bar). Wide eyes followed me during my “sit-on-a-stool” set and since I’d needed not to look down at the frets of my Taylor as I had played, I looked at Kevin. He knew all the songs. Every word. He air-drummed the fills of old songs that had had full band recordings. Sang loud enough along with me and even rocked harmonies. Who was this kid?
    I slept in the van that night—actually I tossed in thought. Why am I in a Taco Bell parking lot in Missouri? Was Mom right about a “real” job? Had I actually been the one at fault in the split of The Danbury Shakes? Just another arrogant frontman. Write some rhymes, pour the heart out and—
    “Smoke?”
    Then tapping on the glass window behind and above me.
    “Is that Smoke Evans in there?”
    It was Kevin, though I didn’t know him at the time. I knew him as the watchful fan. The ever elusive loyal fan, gripped by the music and not so much by the bullshit.
    That was when he offered his bed for me to sleep in. He said he would sleep in his mom’s bed while she was out. The shrug of his shoulders that followed my question of where she was made me cringe. When we got to the trailer he opened a rusty door with no key and pointed to the couch.
    “My bed,” he said, an expression of humble selflessness.
    I pinched the top of my nose between my eyes. We used the primary function of his makeshift sleeping quarters to sit and talk music. I asked Kevin how he’d gotten into the bar after he informed me of his age. He said he sold weed to the owner. I then declined his offer to smoke. He mocked my name.
    In the morning I realized my mistake. I should not have stayed there. I had seen myself as the teenager that Kevin was. Idealistic. Aspiring. Alone. But saved by a grace: the comfort of music. I’d had a grain of sugar that is success and fallen to failure. Before I left I signed the back of the eviction notice on the coffee table.
    Stay in school,
    Smoke Evans.

  24. Chase

    Hell, he knew the words to the song. He was the only one. Everyone had known “Rain”, having been on Indie Rock Stations in the Midwest twelve years ago, but no one knew the painful lyrics I’d penned in “Candidly Somber”. And no one had really cared. Not that I expected them to. But this kid, a 17 year old kid, knew my song. The piece was released on YouTube, Spotify, and Facebook only. No iTunes or Amazon. Sorry, Billboard. No one knew the new stuff. No one but Kevin.
    Kevin was a bright kid. Eyeing him during the show was not a difficult task; he had been front center, his face radiating crimson due to the lighting in The Mix (Rollo, Missouri’s best underground music bar). Wide eyes followed me during my “sit-on-a-stool” set and since I’d needed not to look down at the frets of my Taylor as I had played, I looked at Kevin. He knew all the songs. Every word. He air-drummed the fills of old songs that had had full band recordings. Sang loud enough along with me and even rocked harmonies. Who was this kid?
    I slept in the van that night—actually I tossed in thought. Why am I in a Taco Bell parking lot in Missouri? Was Mom right about a “real” job? Had I actually been the one at fault in the split of The Danbury Shakes? Just another arrogant frontman. Write some rhymes, pour the heart out and—
    “Smoke?”
    Then tapping on the glass window behind and above me.
    “Is that Smoke Evans in there?”
    It was Kevin, though I didn’t know him at the time. I knew him as the watchful fan. The ever elusive loyal fan, gripped by the music and not so much by the bullshit.
    That was when he offered his bed for me to sleep in. He said he would sleep in his mom’s bed while she was out. The shrug of his shoulders that followed my question of where she was made me cringe. When we got to the trailer he opened a rusty door with no key and pointed to the couch.
    “My bed,” he said, an expression of humble selflessness.
    I pinched the top of my nose between my eyes. We used the primary function of his makeshift sleeping quarters to sit and talk music. I asked Kevin how he’d gotten into the bar after he informed me of his age. He said he sold weed to the owner. I then declined his offer to smoke. He mocked my name.
    In the morning I realized my mistake. I should not have stayed there. I had seen myself as the teenager that Kevin was. Idealistic. Aspiring. Alone. But saved by a grace: the comfort of music. I’d had a grain of sugar that is success and fallen to failure. Before I left I signed the back of the eviction notice on the coffee table.

    Stay in school,
    Smoke Evans.

  25. Critique

    After seven nights of gigs and sleeping in my Chevy Van I was exhausted. Fledgling musicians aren’t in it for the money – we love what we do – the gruelling tour was essential to get my name out there.

    Thirty people at the town bar on a Wednesday night wasn’t bad. A table to my left – a man and three women – were having a lot of fun.

    At the end of the show I sold CD’s at the back.

    “Hi.” A smiling brunette from the table was standing at my elbow with her friends. “I really liked your songs and I’d like to buy your CD’s”

    “Thank you. I’m glad you liked them.” I needed gas money.

    “It’s been great.” The man put an affectionate arm around the brunette. “We’re celebrating Maxine’s birthday.”

    “We’re all going over to my place for lasagne and drinks.” Maxine smiled. “If you aren’t doing anything, why don’t you join us?”

    “That’s sounds great.” My mouth watered at the thought. “I’d love that.”

    I found out Maxine makes a mean lasagne and that she had recently come out of a three year abusive relationship.

    I was sitting on the couch trying to squelch my yawns and planning my exit – I dreaded another night in the non air conditioned van – when I leaned my head back.

    I woke to the sound of pounding. Disoriented I noticed someone had covered me with a blanket. I’d slept on Maxine’s couch.

    “Open the door b****. I know you’re in there with him.” A man’s voice bellowed.

    Maxine stood in the shadowy kitchen clutching a housecoat around her – a terrified look in her eyes.

    “You need to go.” She hissed and pointed through the kitchen. “Use the back door.”

    “Shouldn’t we call the police?” I hissed back.

    “I already have.” She jumped as the pounding resumed. “Go!”

    The man screamed obscenities. “You are so dead. I’ll kill you both. Open this door.”

    I fled out the back door. Sprinting towards my van I heard footsteps advancing behind me.

    A light came on in the adjacent condo and a voice shouted. “Keep it down out there or I’ll call the police.”

    I had my key ready and was inside with the van door locked when a huge man lunged at the door.

    He screamed obscenities and started kicking the door.

    I pulled away, tires squealing – the man ran alongside until he fell. A police car careened down the street towards me, it’s lights flashing.

    I stuck around town in the morning until I found out Maxine was okay and the jerk – her ex – was in jail.

    My van now sports two large dents in the side door. I shudder to think of might have happened if I hadn’t escaped – a reminder I should stick to sleeping in my home-away-from-home. It keeps life simpler.

    1. agnesjack

      Nice alternate idea to the prompt. You painted a realistic picture of what it’s like to be a struggling musician on the road. I was relieved that the MC made sure that Maxine was O.K. the next day.

    2. calicocat88

      Wow! I was running with this guy to his van and feeling his panic. Great job with relating to the reader! Glad Maxine turned out okay. I was waiting for the MC to get hacked to pieces or something. *Shudders*

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Critique, you’re lighting up my afternoon for me. Great action story, scared the ‘you knows’ out of me. There’s an old saying I just made up. “Dents are better then deaths.”

      2. veronica_gurlie

        Hello!. I really liked your story. Your story made my heart race and I was on the edge of my seat. I pray that something like this don’t ever happen to me. Good job!

  26. Jeff

    “Everybody said that you won’t get far / on thirty-seven dollars and a Jap guitar … ”

    Steve Earle proved ‘em wrong when “Guitar Town” made the Top Ten country charts. As for me, I’m still in the wannabe category. I’m not complaining, just saying. I know that each one-nighter in every backwater honky-tonk I’ve played on tour has helped me hone my craft. Dues must be paid.

    Overall, the life ain’t that bad. Many times, after a paying gig, I’ve been invited to party with the locals, out in the boonies jamming with a couple of pickers till the wee hours. And sometimes, crashing in the hay with a honey or two after. Hard to refuse country hospitality, wouldn’t want to be rude. Sure as hell beats sleeping alone in the van in the bar parking lot, which is where I usually wind up.

    Overall, not that bad.

    There was the one time, though, that I wished I’d turned down the offer of a couch for the night.

    I was savoring the after-buzz from a smoking-hot set at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa. I had opened for George
    Thorogood, and he asked me to sit in when he closed the show with a twenty-minute medley that blew the roof off. They split for the airport afterwards and I headed to the van.

    I got halfway across the lot when a stretch limo stopped in front of me. A cute redhead in a sequin dress popped up from the open roof and said they were going to a party and did I want to go?

    “You bet,” I said and climbed in.

    We arrived at a lodge overlooking a lake. A houseboat, lit up and rockin out, floated at the dock. A great night for a party, I thought as we climbed aboard. A glass of bubbly in one hand and a doobie in the other, I could get used to this. I got pretty wasted and my host led me to a cabin with a couch where she had me lie down.

    “Sweet dreams,” she said as she pulled the door closed behind her.

    I found out later that the lodge and houseboat are owned by a hedge-fund manager who was out of the country when all this took place.

    Something else I found out later: One can lead a perfectly normal life with only one kidney.

    The detective said I’d been given Rohipnol to knock me out. The doctor said I would heal up just fine, barring any complications.

    Dues must be paid. Besides, chicks dig scars.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Reminds me of a movie, Vacation in Las Vegas. Chevy Chase. I liked the storytelling narrative. Only one thing, what good is a kidney if it doesn’t match? I guess writer’s licence.

        1. Jeff

          Hee Hee, Kerry busted me. I got the stolen kidney bit from an urban legend that made the email rounds a few years ago. I kinda wrote myself into a corner, word count-wise, and needed an ending that hadn’t been used already. You know the old saying, “It’s all fun and games until somebody loses a kidney,” lol.

    1. jhowe

      I enjoyed the hell out of this one. Well told. It sounds as if an actual fledgling musician wrote it…maybe he did? Have you Copperhead Road by Steve Earle. Now that’s a song.

    2. agnesjack

      Great, concise story, Jeff. I actually liked his laid back manner at the end. It fit the character.

      (And I love Steve Earle — going to see him in Portchester, NY on Feb.1st.)

    3. snuzcook

      So, if you’re gonna live the life you gotta pay the price? As others have said, the acceptance quality here really makes the story interesting. Good one.

    4. Jeff

      Thanks guys, I had fun with this. I almost left it alone, as I have no background in music. Then I remembered reading about Steve Earle, now there’s a story!

  27. seliz

    I met her at my show. Brown hair, ivory skin, and deep, red lips upturned into a friendly smile. She was a wisp of a thing, but with a big, bubbly personality to make up for it. That’s why it was so easy for her to persuade me to stay the night—on her couch—instead of in my freezing van.

    Her house was cozy and inviting, the image of southern comfort. Sliding me a cup of tea, she took a seat across from me.

    “Are you comfortable, Ben?”

    My words slurred in response and her smile got bigger. She seemed to sashay to my side, growing more graceful the more incoherent I became. With a jolt, I realized she was tying my hands behind my back.

    “What…why are…you?” My words died off in a garble.

    Her expression changed; her lips down turned and her eyes wild.

    “We’ve missed you, Ben.”

    I stared at her in confusion.

    “You said you’d come back.” Her next words came out in an explosion of rage, making me cringe in my chair. “But you left us to die, Ben! You left your baby to die!”

    “Baby.” The word came out sounding broken, like a child learning the word for the first time.

    “Yes, Ben, your baby. You threw just him away like trash.”

    Then, with sudden jerky movements, she stomped out of the room, leaving my mind reeling.

    When she returned, she was cradling a swaddled infant close to her.

    “See, Ben?”

    Her voice was soft, as she held the baby out.

    “Isn’t he beautiful?”

    A gasping noise was wrenched from my lips as I looked at the baby. He was a pale white color, with a waxy sheen on his newborn face. He lay in the blankets, stiff and still. Too still.

    She pursed her lips in an over exaggerated pout.

    “What Ben, don’t like the sight of your own son?”

    But it was the opposite. I couldn’t tear my eyes away, silently willing the child to move, breathe, cry—anything.

    “That’s not my child,” I said, desperation seeping into my voice. “And my name is not Ben!”

    She stepped away from me, dropping the baby with a thud. She didn’t even register that she dropped him, simply stared at me with wide, child-like eyes.

    It was the knock on the door that snapped her out of it. She seemed to transform, turning back into the bubbly girl I met earlier.

    “Howdy, Sheriff Dawes,” she said, practically cooing at the man.

    “Evening, Madison. The neighbors heard yelling. I had to make sure that you didn’t have another poor sap in here.”

    She didn’t get a chance to respond. He strode into the room and untied me, his eyes never leaving Madison.

    “You’ve got to stop doing this! I can’t keep covering for you.”

    Her lips tilted into a triumphant grin at his words.

    “Of course I can, Ben. How else would I get you here to see your son?”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I got a little nervous reading your story, seliz. There have been so many crazies walking around on this particular prompt. Good thing the sheriff had her number. Lots of tension, good dialogue and excelent flow of the story.

      2. seliz

        Thank you! I figured there’s something a little scarier about a regular old lunatic, as opposed to the scorned woman (though I suppose she was scorned, just not by him).

    1. jhowe

      It sounds like someone is ready for some extensive therapy. I liked how you pulled this off. It took just a short paragraph to set the scene and explaint the premis of the prompt so you could dive into the meat of your story. Good one.

    2. agnesjack

      I agree with the above comments. You had me going, too, but I was relieved at the end. Unusual town Madison lives in, where the sheriff covers for her, uh, idiosyncrasies?

      1. seliz

        Crazier things have happened in small towns. Although, if I could go back and edit this, I would add the following as the very last line:

        I scampered out of her house, barely registering the gleaming name tag for Sheriff Benjamin Dawes.

    3. snuzcook

      Now, that looked pretty bad for the poor musician, but the ending was even more disturbing. Glad he got away, but oh, what a creepy place he was leaving! Well done.

  28. Chase

    Hell, he knew the words to the song. He was the only one. Everyone had known “Rain”, having been on Indie Rock Stations in the Midwest twelve years ago, but no one knew the painful lyrics I’d penned in “Candidly Somber”. And no one had really cared. Not that I expected them to. But this kid, a 17 year old kid, knew my song. The piece was released on YouTube, Spotify, and Facebook only. No iTunes or Amazon. Sorry, Billboard. No one knew the new stuff. No one but Kevin.

    Kevin was a bright kid. Eyeing him during the show was not a difficult task; he had been front center, his face radiating crimson due to the lighting in The Mix (Rollo, Missouri’s best underground music bar). Wide eyes followed me during my “sit-on-a-stool” set and since I’d needed not to look down at the frets of my Taylor as I had played, I looked at Kevin. He knew all the songs. Every word. He air-drummed the fills of old songs that had had full band recordings. Sang loud enough along with me and even rocked harmonies. Who was this kid?

    I slept in the van that night—actually I tossed in thought. Why am I in a Taco Bell parking lot in Missouri? Was Mom right about a “real” job? Had I actually been the one at fault in the split of The Danbury Shakes? Just another arrogant frontman. Write some rhymes, pour the heart out and—

    “Smoke?”

    Then tapping on the glass window behind and above me.

    “Is that Smoke Evans in there?”

    It was Kevin, though I didn’t know him at the time. I knew him as the watchful fan. The ever elusive loyal fan, gripped by the music and not so much by the bullshit.

    That was when he offered his bed for me to sleep in. He said he would sleep in his mom’s bed while she was out. The shrug of his shoulders that followed my question of where she was made me cringe. When we got to the trailer he opened a rusty door with no key and pointed to the couch.
    “My bed,” he said, an expression of humble selflessness.

    I pinched the top of my nose between my eyes. We used the primary function of the makeshift sleeping quarters to sit and talk music. I asked Kevin how he’d gotten into the bar after he informed me of his age. He said he sold weed to the owner. I then declined his offer to smoke. He mocked my name.

    In the morning I realized my mistake. I should not have stayed there. I had seen myself as the teenager that Kevin was. Idealistic. Aspiring. Alone. But saved by a grace: the comfort of music. I’d had a grain of sugar that is success and fallen to failure. Before I left I signed the back of the eviction notice on the coffee table.

    Stay in school,
    Smoke Evans.

  29. chaseorion1326

    Hell, he knew the words to the song. He was the only one. Everyone had known “Rain”, having been on Indie Rock stations in the Midwest twelve years ago, but no one knew the painful lyrics I’d penned in “Candidly Somber”. And no one had really cared. Not that I expected them to. But this kid, a 17 year old kid, knew my song. The piece was released on YouTube, Spotify, and Facebook only. No iTunes or Amazon. Sorry, Billboard. No one knew the new stuff. No one but Kevin.

    Kevin was a bright kid. Eyeing him during the show was not a difficult task; he had been front center, his face radiating crimson due to the lighting in The Mix (Rollo, Missouri’s best underground music bar). Wide eyes followed me during my “sit-on-a-stool” set and since I’d needed not to look down at the frets of my Taylor as I had played, I looked at Kevin. He knew all the songs. Every word. He air-drummed the fills of old songs that had had full band recordings. Sang loud enough along with me and even rocked harmonies. Who was this kid?

    I slept in the van that night—actually I tossed in thought. Why am I in a Taco Bell parking lot in Missouri? Was Mom right about a “real” job? Had I actually been the one at fault in the split of The Danbury Shakes? Just another arrogant frontman. Write some rhymes, pour the heart out and—

    “Smoke?”

    Then tapping on the glass window behind and above me.

    “Is that Smoke Evans in there?”

    It was Kevin, though I didn’t know him at the time. I knew him as the watchful fan. The ever elusive loyal fan, gripped by the music and not so much by the bullshit.

    That was when he offered his bed for me to sleep in. He said he would sleep in his mom’s bed while she was out. The shrug of his shoulders that followed my question of where she was made me cringe. When we got to the trailer he opened a rusty door with no key and pointed to the couch.

    “My bed,” he said, an expression of humble selflessness.

    I pinched the top of my nose between my eyes. We used the primary function of the makeshift sleeping quarters to sit and talk music. I asked Kevin how he’d gotten into the bar after he informed me of his age. He said he sold weed to the owner. I then declined his offer to smoke. He mocked my name.

    In the morning I realized my mistake. I should not have stayed there. I had seen myself as the teenager that Kevin was. Idealistic. Aspiring. Alone. But saved by a grace: the comfort of music. I’d had a grain of sugar that is success and fallen to failure. Before I left I signed the back of the eviction notice on the coffee table.

    Stay in school,
    Smoke Evans.

  30. tboss

    It was kind of Angela to offer me a meal and a place to sleep. The tiny black and white floor tiles in her kitchen reminded me of my grandmother’s house.

    “I keep this rug because these tiles get really cold at night.”, she said.

    After a delicious meal, Angela brought pillows and a heavy quilt for the couch.

    “My room is right through the kitchen if you need anything”, she said.

    Grateful to be indoors, my mind and body drift off to sleep.

    “DAVID!!!!”, Angela shrieks.

    I bolt toward Angela’s room. As my foot hits the rug, my mind recalls the words “OLD rug”. Old rugs are slippery. My feet fly from under me. My body hits the floor — hard. Heavens to Murgatroyd! I want to cry like a little girl, but I hoist myself up and run like the Hunchback to rescue the woman who rescued me.

    I burst through the bedroom door. Angela is in her recliner watching television.

    “What’s wrong?!”, I said scanning for threats.

    “I saw your band on the news. Isn’t that cool?”

    “Um, yeah. Really cool. Everything okay?”

    “Yeah”, she says, not acknowledging the loud crash right before I burst through the door.

    “Okay. Goodnight”, I said trying to remember how thankful I was to her.

    I straighten out the stupid rug on my way back to the couch. My heart stops racing and I begin to drift off a second time. The sound of glass breaking startles me, once again.

    “Get out! Get out! “, I hear Angela scream.

    I grab a bat from the corner and charge toward the commotion. I forgot about the rug! This time, my feet fly backwards and I do a face plant on the floor. I struggle to get up and face the intruder. I open the door. Angela is swinging a broom like a wild woman.

    “What the hell are you doing?”, I yell.

    “There’s a lizard!”, she cries.

    The little voice in my head reminds me of the warm couch and the good meal. I find the lizard, pick it up with my hand and throw it out the window.

    “Oh that was so nice of you!” she said appreciatively. “I don’t know what I would have done without you”.

    “It’s okay”, I said, taking a deep breath.

    I return to the couch. I’m now wide awake, counting the sparkles in the ceiling. Thirty minutes go by and not a sound. I feel myself drifting off yet again.

    “Hey David.”, Angela says softly from the kitchen.

    “Yes?”, I said not moving a muscle.

    “I can’t sleep, so I’m making hot cocoa. Want some?”, she says with a smile in her voice.

    “Why not”, I chuckle, surrendering to the fact that I won’t get any sleep tonight.

    As she heads toward the counter, she kicks the rug across the kitchen.

    “Why did you do that?”, I ask.

    “That old rug is slippery; I don’t want to break my neck.”

    1. Jeff

      I loved the line, “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” Reminds me of an old Saturday morning cartoon. I could see this done as a skit from The Carol Burnett Show, or one of the classic sitcoms.

    2. veronica_gurlie

      I think this was brilliant and very original. I liked it alot:0). I laughed about the rug cause my house has old fashion rug, especially one in my kitchen that you will slip on. I own my daughters grandmothers house now and the old rugs put us through changes. lol.

  31. suyidavies

    Forgive my shortcomings, for I am a newbie to this fiction thing, and to these prompt submissions…

    IRREPLACEABLE

    I awoke to the smell of fried plantains and the clacking of cutlery nearby. A bass drum played steady painful notes in my head, and the back of my tongue tasted funny. The rest of my brain nestled in a thick swirl of unknowing.

    I rose from the furry cushion, observing the wet amoebic shape I had made with my dribble. It smelled of stale vodka mixed with beer. Neither the cushion nor the weathered couch on which I lay seemed familiar.

    Where the hell am I?

    “Oh? You’re awake”, a voice said.

    A heavyset young man, late twenties at least, was standing at the door of what seemed to be the kitchenette in this small self-contained apartment. He was holding a knife in one hand and a plantain in the other. I had no idea who he was.

    He smiled. “Breakfast in a minute.”

    He disappeared into the kitchen again, as I sat there, trying to piece everything together.
    What happened yesternight?

    Slowly, it all came back.

    Arriving at the small club with the band. The guitarist’s rage when we realized there was no nearby hotel. The actual show; the modest crowd roaring. Myself behind the band, hearing only mush as I struggled to keep time with the drums.

    I remembered the after-party when we mingled with the crowd at the bar. The free flow of beer and spirits. The others leaving early, scores of young ladies attached to their arms, not for the first time since they hired me on tour after disposing of their mental drummer a year ago. No one fawned over me. No matter, I wasn’t into women anyway.

    Then I had spotted –

    Sunny. That’s his name. Sunny.

    He’d been at the counter, exuding all the signs that indicated our kind. I took to him quickly, as he had in abundance things I loved in my men. It helped that he was a fellow drummer, so we chaffed a lot while I stared dreamily at his carmine lips. In my drunken haze at the night’s end, I didn’t turn down his offer to stay the night in his apartment. The thought of sleeping alone on the cold floor of the van gave further incentive to accept.

    Too bad I only got the sofa for the night, I thought, scanning the room.

    I spied a photo album on the nearby stool and picked it up. A small container of pills fell over. I lunged to catch it and the album dropped, opening.

    My eyes widened as I saw the pictures, and my puzzlement cleared instantly as the three pieces came together.

    The sealed container of lithium pills for bipolar disorders in my hand. Something Maleek said about the last drummer swearing bitterly that he would never be replaced. Six recent photos of my band in the opened album, all with my face cut out and replaced with Sunny’s.

    I dashed to the door and pulled the handle. Locked.

    “Going somewhere?”

    I turned. Sunny was at the kitchen doorway again, a larger knife in his hand. This time, there was no plantain in the other.

  32. PeterW

    Writing Prompt Musician.

    The obvious path here seems to be some-sort of unwanted bodily intrusion. Perhaps a kidnapping and murder scenario as well. The poor musician hero accepts couch over truck-trunk and is violated in one or several way at this stranger/vague acquaintance’s home; story concluding either in musician hero’s escape, death, or complete shaming. That was seems to me to be the path here, now.

    But I, dealer of fantasies, warper of tales, wingman to the creative soul sunk somewhere in the depth of every human’s mind, I offer another path. This path requires complete and total immersion into what I shall call my mantra. It is not an easy or straight path. It, however, moves past pulp and into the realm of literature incarnate. The path is interwoven into soul of all creation, the over-mind: not just writing, but art and song, dance and psychic vision, even existing in those small extra movements made in passion, the finger there, the lips touching there at that movement, in that breath, in that exhale brought short, in the exquisite pleasure of love and the imagination: that is where our path lies. Bring your musician hero by the hand. Close to my vast steps.

    First the scene shall be set in soft lights. Be specific, my neophyte. Let the scene saturate your soul first; then let it saturate the page. It should be in your mind complete, stark, and vivid before any ink splatters. Think: where is the light coming from, where the wind?… What is the place’s name in proper nouns, on what road, on what highway, in what make of car does the hero sleep, under what kind of blanket; and the fabric on the wore backseat, what is like on his grizzled cheek; the acoustic guitar, what kind, bought where, and does it sit in the passenger seat nearly sliding along the dash, kept in place by the gear shift rising center, that guitar with its strings uncut and unkempt off the tuning pegs encased in worn plush of a case like a black vampire’s coffin, what songs has it played, and see the lights from gas station coming through the Ford’s front window, through the interlacing elliptic smears made by windshield wipers, and the case casting a finger-like shadow over the hero in his fretful sleep, dreaming of a girl w/o cloths who danced before him in his younger, more vigorous years; her lissome body filling his dreamy soul as it twists and coils and spreads. Then another shadow coming perpendicular to that of the guitar’s case, eclipsing all light. And in what season, what weather, what time, and in what form does this second shadow take against the gas station’s lights, as it raises a harsh knuckle and raps on the backseat window? Can you see it your mind? Can you hear the knuckle rapping on the glasses? Can you smell the gasoline and dirt from the cornfields beyond? Can you feel the young girl fading as raps grow louder, and the hero struggles to hold on to her pure, unadultered form as the rapping brings him to the reality of his backseat, his flannel shirt pillow, his jeans stiffening over his bent legs? And this girl, who is she really?

    Follower to my steps, I offer you this path. There is no excitement yet, no quick pay-off, no clever turn. The over-mind shuns such petty things. And I, the messenger despise them as well. On this path we search for truth. There is nothing clever about truth. That is our mantra, accept it now for the sake of your soul and all souls; and now, follower, complete the scene:

    Open the car door and wake the musician hero. This time do not violate him, rape him, expose him, disappoint him, kill him, or blindside him with ugly epiphanies. Bring him home and divulge the secrets I have the divulged to you, so he can become one of us; so he can drop the bottle of Jameson, quit the cheap whores, quit the endless road of meaningless shows and recycled meaningless tunes, and leave the visions of gaunt future and regretted past. Give him the power of creation and let him connect, as you and I have connected, to the all-inspiring oversoul that stirs everywhere in this world, under flower and snow, smog-cloud and skin. And let the passion flow into his hands as he sits on your couch and removes his guitar from its coffin-case, the dawn’s own fingers touching the windows, damping the light of the standing lamp, dissipating the shadows. Then let him play something simple, clear, and true.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        When I read this the second time I heard the ghosts and presents and the music, the music, the music.
        Woody Guthrie ‘This Land Is Your Land’
        ‘Train Whistle Blues’ Jimmie Rogers
        ‘Have Some Madeira, My Dear’ The Limeliters
        Kingston Trio ‘Tom Dooley’
        ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ Joan Baez
        And the last song:
        Peter, Paul and Mary’s ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone’

    1. jhowe

      This is a very creative piece. Even though I don’t get it 100 percent, it’s good. A lot of vivid imagery and well crafted questions that provoke us to think. “And this girl, who is she really?’ Hell, I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter because I can picture her however I want, thanks to your method of delivering.

    2. snuzcook

      There is something truly superlative and at the same time Tao about this piece. It is less story than it is song, and as such brings the reader into the essence of the musician revealed in a moment.
      There is an initial impression of too many words, and yet, it is more that the words create the music and are necessary to the symphony.
      Bravo.

  33. suyidavies

    Forgive any mistakes, for this is my first time here. Plus, I’m a newbie at this fiction thing, so…

    Irreplaceable

    I awoke to the smell of fried plantains and the clacking of cutlery nearby. A bass drum played steady painful notes in my head, and the back of my tongue tasted funny. The rest of my brain nestled in a thick swirl of unknowing.

    I rose from the furry cushion, observing the wet amoebic shape I had made with my dribble. It smelled of stale vodka mixed with beer. Neither the cushion nor the weathered couch on which I lay seemed familiar.

    Where the hell am I?

    “Oh? You’re awake”, a voice said.

    A heavyset young man, late twenties at least, was standing at the door of what seemed to be the kitchenette in this small self-contained apartment. He was holding a knife in one hand and a plantain in the other. I had no idea who he was.

    He smiled. “Breakfast in a minute.”

    He disappeared into the kitchen again, as I sat there, trying to piece everything together. What happened yesternight?

    Slowly, it all came back.

    Arriving at the small club with the band. The guitarist’s rage when we realized there was no nearby hotel. The actual show; the modest crowd roaring. Myself behind the band, hearing only mush as I struggled to keep time with the drums.

    I remembered the after-party when we mingled with the crowd at the bar. The free flow of beer and spirits. The others leaving early, scores of young ladies attached to their arms, not for the first time since they hired me on tour after disposing of their mental drummer a year ago. No one fawned over me. No matter, I wasn’t into women anyway.

    Then I had spotted –

    Sunny. That’s his name. Sunny.

    He’d been at the counter, exuding all the signs that indicated our kind. I took to him quickly, as he had in abundance, things I loved in my men. It helped that he was a fellow drummer, so we chaffed a lot while I stared dreamily at his carmine lips. In my drunken haze at the night’s end, I didn’t turn down his offer to stay the night in his apartment. The thought of sleeping alone on the cold floor of the van gave further incentive to accept.

    Too bad I only got the sofa for the night, I thought, scanning the room.

    I spied a photo album on the nearby stool and picked it up. A small container of pills fell over. I lunged to catch it and the album dropped, opening.

    My eyes widened as I saw the pictures, and my puzzlement cleared instantly as the three pieces came together.

    The sealed container of lithium pills for bipolar disorders in my hand. Something Maleek said about the last drummer swearing bitterly that he would never be replaced. Six recent photos of my band in the opened album, all with my face cut out and replaced with Sunny’s.

    I dashed to the door and pulled the handle. Locked.

    “Going somewhere?”

    I turned. Sunny was at the kitchen doorway again, a larger knife in his hand. This time, there was no plantain in the other.

  34. PromptPrincess13

    A little too optimistic perhaps but I was hoping for a “Wait, did that just happened?” followed by a “Aw, that’s sweet,” reaction. Advice always welcome and any thoughts will be very appreciated.

    Stranger Things Have Happened

    The smile of warm gratitude and the polite, sweet chatter I had been so good at before was too hidden within myself to find. I just sat on the couch and stared and drank some of the ginger tea, hoping the spice would liven me up.

    The little old woman sat next to me, softly, like a robin perched upon her nest, gently nudging a little egg. I’m guessing I was that egg. Her name was Edda, comically staunch in character but all-in-all sweet. Edda was a woman fragile only in looks and flesh- her spirit was a timeless roamer that had withstood too much to be ever called fragile.

    “Go to sleep now, dear.” She said and I laid back at once, feeling like a little girl again. Edda laughed but I was already almost gone, asleep in a way I’d never been in my car all those nights of sleeping in the backseat.

    A few hours later, I woke up, feeling peaceful and happy. I had to start travelling soon if I wanted to get to my next gig but I didn’t want to leave. It’d been so long since I hadn’t been alone.

    A sudden shift under me threw me forward and I pounced on the sofa-arm, nerves snapping into awareness. A loud creaking screeched from under the couch and I stayed frozen, leaning against the back-cushion with a hallowed ditch in my stomach.

    The next thing I knew, the coach split in half, slamming me into its smothering blankets, and swallowed me, throw pillows and all.

    I didn’t fall too long but I crashed hard.

    I stared into the echoing, dusty space above me, trying to channel any measure of calm. My breath was too fast, my legs too restless, my skin too tight. There was air enough around me but I couldn’t breathe, the burning panic within me charging the oxygen with a sting like acid. This was the end.

    Banging on the darkness wasn’t getting me any closer to a saving light and I started crying, my voice to raw to scream.

    Grey light swirled through wherever it was I’d fallen, marbling the darkness as it became deeper and deeper.

    I heard laughing somewhere close by and cried harder, the sound of Edda’s joy at my expense like a dagger.

    “Courtney! Sweetie, wake up already!”

    My eyes moved open and there was Edda, smiling of course, waving a piece of heavenly crisp bacon in front of my nose. It was broad daylight, like even the sun was smiling at me, brightening up my horizons a bit.

    “Come on dear, we have to go if we want to make your next show!” She was dressed demurely but by no means in subtle colors, with my guitar in her hand and a silly hat on her red-curl topped head.

    I sat up slowly, pushing on the couch to make sure it was still in one piece; it was whole. And for the first time in much too long, so was I. Something I was sure my new, adopted-grandma was going to make sure stayed that way.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        My thoughts are, it was all a dream. Demons of the night that invade your fragile mind. Maybe grandma can wish they away. I enjoyed your story a lot. I cared for Courtney and wished her no evil. Taut writing really pushed this story.

    1. jhowe

      I had the reaction you mentioned before your story. Everything was going so well, and then, boom, it wasn’t. Then it was okay again. Nice ride and good writing.

  35. frankd1100

    He woke to the smell of coffee and the clattering of dishes in the kitchen. Struggling to focus through an alcohol haze, the sound of busy footfalls grew louder and the divorced nurse he’d met the night before rounded the corner carrying a tray.

    They’d met at the previous evenings fundraiser for Boston General. While he performed as lead vocalist for the hired band, she sat among the guests at a table close to the stage and watched him. His eyes were drawn to return over the course of the evening, curiously attracted by her petulant, self contained posture.

    He guessed her age in the mid thirties. Her short blonde hair, tucked behind an ear, highlighted a delicate jaw line and soft high cheek bones. She wore a light blue spring dress with a tastefully revealing neckline and sat with her legs crossed so the hemline rose to mid thigh. It became difficult to focus on the music.

    ************

    He thought about their night together and the intensity of the sex wondering if it had been spontaneous or practiced technique. He didn’t recall being handcuffed to the couch.

    “Good morning,” she said, smiling as she set the tray, bearing a large mug of coffee and a toasted bagel, on the coffee table.

    “Hi,” he said, dragging himself awkwardly into a sitting position. “This looks great but I’ll need the handcuffs off to enjoy it.”

    “No problem,” she said with a smile, “I’ll feed you.”

    “That’s funny,” he said, “but seriously, get these off me. I have a rehearsal in an hour for tonight’s gig.” He stood bent over at the end of the slack in the cuffs, searching the table for a key.

    Her smile dissolved, replaced by a steely gaze. “We discussed this last night while we still had our clothes on. You said your day was free and you promised to hang around so we could have lunch together. Now I feel like you were using me!”

    “You’re right, Jennie. I will hang around for lunch, but please take these off so I can call my bandmates.” He looked directly into her eyes with a practiced, fake sincerity that had worked so well the night before and lifted his hands, palms together, as if in prayer.

    “My name is Jessie,” she said, looking down at him as she thought about what to do. “No, I’d best leave them on until I come back for lunch. You’ll be fine.”

    Stunned he called to her as she left the room. “Jennie! You can’t do this. Hey, I have to use the toilet unless you want me to urinate all over your couch.”

    He breathed easier hearing her steps returning until she appeared holding a plastic jug under her arm. She smiled and snapped on a pair of thin, latex gloves and said, “Not a problem. I am a nurse after all.”

    1. calicocat88

      Oh, this makes me want to run screaming from the room. Great job on the introduction and the details. They weren’t too cluttered or muddy. I may not look at nurses the same way, but this was good :)

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I cringed and crumped around in my chair as I read this story. My Lord, I think she was about to install a catheter in the poor guy. How embarassing was that going to be? I liked the story a lot, Frank, in spite of the uncomfortable squirming around.

    2. jhowe

      Am I the only guy whose testicles shifted inward a bit? That was a good one. It was great when he reflected on the intensity of the sex but didn’t recall being hancuffed to the couch.

    3. snuzcook

      As a completely objective observer, and without any parts of my anatomy retracting, I must say that this MC has a lot to learn. The name error was a great insight into his modus, and the description of his conscious use of the “fake sincerity that had worked so well the night before” just showed that the Universe was catching up with him and teaching him a little lesson. Not that I condone it. Not me. I would NEVER do that…

  36. hlegrande

    My first public posting, feedback would be appreciated.

    Being a musician is hard; being a female musician is harder. You struggle night after night, trying to get club owners to give you a shot – without having to sleep with them – and then have to fight to get paid. I’ve been on the road for three months, the whole summer, and tonight is my last night of sleeping in the van.

    He called himself “Storm” and had been following me around on my tour. After the show he was waiting for me. We chatted for a bit and finally I told him I needed to get some sleep.

    “Where are you staying?” he asked. I pointed to the van. “No way! You are too beautiful to sleep in a van. Come back to my place, you can sleep there tonight.”

    “Thanks.” I said. “But I’ll be alright, it’s my last night. I’ll head home in the morning.”

    Realizing my discomfort Storm tried to compensate. He held up his hands and said:

    “No funny business, seriously. You can sleep in my bed and I’ll take the couch. You have a long drive tomorrow and need a good nights sleep.”

    I looked at him for a moment. My body ached from sleeping in the van and I really could use a good nights rest before my drive. I wasn’t getting the “creepy-guy” vibe from him. I looked around the deserted parking lot in the sleepy, small town. I knew how to take care of myself so what was my hesitation?

    “OK.” I finally said. “On one condition, I take the couch.”

    “Deal.” Storm replied with a smile.

    I followed him through the small town to a quiet neighborhood with rows of tract houses built in the fifties, as I pulled into the driveway and climbed out of the van I surveyed the scene. Small but neat yards, family cars sitting silently in their carports, a bike carelessly left in the yard. The humidity hung in the air and felt like a wet blanket draped around me. The stillness of the night sent a chill through me even though it was over 90-degrees.

    I turned and looked at Storm’s house. It was neatly kept, surprising since he looked like your typical rock-and-roll fan. Tall and dark, wearing a leather jacket and ripped jeans he seemed more of the downtown loft/late night drinker type than the suburb type.

    “Come on in.” he said. I followed him in through the carport door into the kitchen. “You hungry?”

    “No, thanks. I’m really just tired.” I replied.

    Storm smiled. “Follow me.”

    As we moved into the dark living room a wave of uneasiness flowed through me. What am I doing here? So I’ve chatted with the guy at a couple of gigs – I don’t know him. Storm made his way across the room and turned on the lamp, I swallowed the scream before it could escape. Was I imagining it or was Storm’s grin really menacing.

    “I’m a Brony.” He said cheerfully.

  37. bandnerdwriter

    I remember seeing her for the first time. I was singing one of my hit love songs, she was sitting in the front row and our eyes met. Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe, so instinctively, I stuck my mic out to the crowd so I could catch a breath and make it look like I knew what I was doing. At that point, I didn’t know if I could even finish the song. She sang along louder than anyone else and I couldn’t look away. Her ocean blue eyes were intoxicating and she had wavy golden hair that she flipped back and forth as she danced. I brought the mic back to my face and was able to finish the song, but only because I sang to her. She knew it to. She looked straight back at me with sexy confidence and her eyes said everything I needed to know.
    This is about the third time I’ve seen her at a concert. I knew that, this time, I would get her to talk to me. During the last song of the concert I grabbed her hand and helped her on stage and she danced and sang with me. I dragged her to my dressing room the second the concert ended. I held her hand and pulled her in close and kissed her. She pulled away hesitantly.
    “Anabella,” she said. “My name is Anabella.”
    Beautiful. I thought, but her name didn’t matter to me. All that mattered was that she was here with me right now. I kissed her again. I dreaded the thought of having to either go back to my van alone, or worse, bring her there. I didn’t want her to have to see how I lived.
    “Do you want to come to my place?” she asked.
    “Yes.” I replied, almost a bit too eager.
    We walked back to her place, talking, holding hands, as if we had known each other since we were little. Her beauty took my breath away and she had these gorgeous full lips and they complimented her dimples every time she smiled.
    “This is it.” She said smiling as she grabbed my hand and led me inside…

    I woke up that morning, beaming, as I turned to catch a glimpse of my Anabella only to find the sheets and blankets tousled and the pillow worn. I sat up and saw the sun, through the window had just barely risen. Why was she up so early?
    I tiptoed downstairs, looking around as I went. As I reached the last step my heart rate rose and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was up with her. She was a total stranger to me, could it possibly be that she isn’t who she seems? No. I dismissed the thought and turned the corner. There lie my beautiful Anabella on the floor in a puddle of blood and a glass of water smashed next to her. I fell to my knees and my head fell into her stomach as I wept.
    “Get up!” a voice behind me said. “What the hell are you crying for anyways? You’ve known her for all of 12 hours.”
    I slowly stood, tears falling down my face, and I turned to meet eye to eye with Anabella’s murderer. The man was tall, muscular, and unrecognizable. He clutched a knife in his left hand. He lunged toward me before I could understand what was happening and the world around me went black as I hit the floor.

  38. bandnerdwriter

    I Regret Sleeping on That Bed
    I remember seeing her for the first time. I was singing one of my hit love songs, she was sitting in the front row and our eyes met. Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe, so instinctively, I stuck my mic out to the crowd so I could catch a breath and make it look like I knew what I was doing. At that point, I didn’t know if I could even finish the song. She sang along louder than anyone else and I couldn’t look away. Her ocean blue eyes were intoxicating and she had wavy golden hair that she flipped back and forth as she danced. I brought the mic back to my face and was able to finish the song, but only because I sang to her. She knew it to. She looked straight back at me with sexy confidence and her eyes said everything I needed to know.
    This is about the third time I’ve seen her at a concert. I knew that, this time, I would get her to talk to me. During the last song of the concert I grabbed her hand and helped her on stage and she danced and sang with me. I dragged her to my dressing room the second the concert ended. I held her hand and pulled her in close and kissed her. She pulled away hesitantly.
    “Anabella,” she said. “My name is Anabella.”
    Beautiful. I thought, but her name didn’t matter to me. All that mattered was that she was here with me right now. I kissed her again. I dreaded the thought of having to either go back to my van alone, or worse, bring her there. I didn’t want her to have to see how I lived.
    “Do you want to come to my place?” she asked.
    “Yes.” I replied, almost a bit too eager.
    We walked back to her place, talking, holding hands, as if we had known each other since we were little. Her beauty took my breath away and she had these gorgeous full lips and they complimented her dimples every time she smiled.
    “This is it.” She said smiling as she grabbed my hand and led me inside…

    I woke up that morning, beaming, as I turned to catch a glimpse of my Anabella only to find the sheets and blankets tousled and the pillow worn. I sat up and saw the sun, through the window had just barely risen. Why was she up so early?
    I tiptoed downstairs, looking around as I went. As I reached the last step my heart rate rose and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was up with her. She was a total stranger to me, could it possibly be that she isn’t who she seems? No. I dismissed the thought and turned the corner. There lie my beautiful Anabella on the floor in a puddle of blood and a glass of water smashed next to her. I fell to my knees and my head fell into her stomach as I wept.
    “Get up!” a voice behind me said. “What the hell are you crying for anyways? You’ve known her for all of 12 hours.”
    I slowly stood, tears falling down my face, and I turned to meet eye to eye with Anabella’s murderer. The man was tall, muscular, and unrecognizable. He clutched a knife in his left hand. He lunged toward me before I could understand what was happening and the world around me went black as I hit the floor.

  39. calicocat88

    “Masquerade”

    The mask was hideous, diabolical, and self-righteous. He wore it well. I couldn’t contain the rage that swelled like a blistering bladder behind my ribs. Wind jerked my hair and slapped my face. All of them were there waiting for me. Five faces watched me. I held out my drum sticks—my only defense in the dank, forsaken parking lot. I shouldn’t have had to defend myself at all.

    “I trusted you,” I said, blinking through the rain, the darkness. “Doesn’t blood mean anything?”

    Eyes like gleaming green orbs shone like beams all around me. “But we want to help you. Come with us.”

    “No—“

    Plucked me from my van—that silver, metallic haven—drove me like a wagon, beating, lashing the whip across my back. Satan’s icicles stuck my cheeks, we stopped, an abrupt skidding through mashed clay and briar.

    “I didn’t want this,” I bellowed over my shoulder. “I never asked to play this game.”

    Lightning struck and clawed its way throughout the sky, the clouds syrupy, navy. Their frothy faces were pinched together, formed in the middle like an angry Chinamen. Out of the ominous five was a man. He was a farmer.

    “Innocence comes in many disguises,” he said. “One you aren’t worthy to wear.” He led the wagon, God on his perch.

    Unleashed and kicked, I was dragged along—a house, a glorious beacon founded, surrounded by a marshy field. The flowers were dead, the animals filmy like ghosts. They held me, four of the five, and I spoke to the farmer, “Only Satan dared to climb to The Throne.”

    “And you’ll burn in the lake along with him,” the farmer shoved me through the door and I hit the ground—it was deceptively soft and warm—with a loud crack sounding though my head, along my jaw. A shroud was draped over my eyes.

    An ongoing stabbing woke me, I couldn’t breathe. My chest was braced, my back aching and arched. My arms and legs pinned down—I was the star they saw and hated. They held my face, the four of the five, the farmer watching on from behind, and forced my eyes to gazing into a blazing fire. My knees protested in agony, the skin on my palms stretched until torn and his words were like razors cutting away at my soul.

    “Look on and know the truth,” he spat and the fire roared.

    In the fire, a child, loved and adored, was placed high on a pedestal. Its arms she frantically tried to escape, but it held her tightly, smothering, murderous.

    “They put me there,” I wailed. “Your misery is only based from your own distortions.”

    All night I suffered their beatings, infusing in me their pain, lust, and self-honor. An early rise of the sun shone through the bleak curtains barring the imprisoned windows and I was granted a brief moment of relief.

    “Admit what you’ve done,” the famer said. “And I’ll release you.”

    With bloody eyes and festering hands, I lifted my head. “Take me to the depths of the torturous and beyond, but I can’t give you what you seek. Falsity and lies aren’t becoming of man.”

    I saw Satan’s tail flash in the farmer’s eyes. “So be it.”

    Again and for the last time, they descended on me. My vision went black and they trampled me down along with truth and sacrifice.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Calico, I’m right in there with Tim. Rich portraits of the devil himself. The sky, you painted with words in a reflection of torment and terror. I’ll have to read maybe, three more times to understand all the symbolic settings you describe. My imagination is running in all directions at the same time. Thoughts of witch craft, the trials in Salem, burnings at the stake, they’re all there planted in your prose.

        One of the powerful pieces of writing I’ve ever read.

      2. calicocat88

        **Tim, thank you :) I really don’t think I’m all that hot to trot, but I’m glad I can write stuff that you guys enjoy. Maybe I need to tone down the imagery :/ It was one of my flaws in college writing–too descriptive. I blame reading too much poetry as a teen, lol!

        **Kerry, I honestly had my brain going every which way while writing this. I tend to start off writing about one thing and by the time I’m at the end, I’ve turned it around to something else. Must be my ADD brain, lol! You blow me away by your comments. I don’t know what else to say except thank you :) I’ve got to do something to keep up with the awesome writer’s on the site. All of you are incredibly talented.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Remeber what Tim said when I commented I was trying to keep up with everybody. He told me this was no competition contest. We were here for one thing only. And that was to learn how to write, to take inspiration from each other, to lend a hand via critiques.

          The best advice I had from anybody, including my own Father. I undrestand now. I’m so happy to be swimming in a school of writers who are so much farther along the pathway than I am.

    1. jhowe

      Another good one CC. You mentioned to Tim that you feel you sometimes get too descriptive, which is a problem with some writers. In your case it isn’t, in my opinion anyway. Elmore Leonard’s tenth rule said, “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” I didn’t skip a word of your story and I seldom do.

    2. frankd1100

      Fantastic, Cal! Dantes Inferno, move over…. I thought you would let us up with a happy ending like it was a nightmare from sleeping on the couch. But you stayed true to the theme, gutsy and dark as hell.

      Excellent…

    3. agnesjack

      I could learn much from your wonderful, descriptive ability, calicocat. Reading your stories is like looking at a surreal painting full of symbolism, nuance and dark, foreboding places that change every time you look at it. I have to admit, however, that I didn’t get how the MC ended up in this house of evil and horror.

      1. calicocat88

        Thanks, agnesjack :) And honestly, I really don’t understand how the MC got there either, lol! Let me tell ya, for the past few prompts I have been mentally incapable of writing anything under 1000 words and anything that has a point. I’ve had to skip them they were so horrible. I think I caught a writing bug. So this one just spewed from my brain.

  40. mjohns19

    I had been doing so well…

    But as with any half-hearted investment that is fed with constant moderation and mediocracy, I failed. I guess. That is what these humans call this feeling right? This gloom of disappointment and pain, cultivating from a decision or a mistake? I don’t know.

    I shouldn’t have came here with that woman. I knew that before I said yes to her offer. But I have grown so loney in this world. I was tired of blending in. I was tired of being one of them. I wanted to be who I was meant to be, and I was tired of waiting for that time to come. So I decided to share my gift with this human.

    Maybe what I am feeling isn’t failure or greif. Maybe it is relief. Maybe I have finally made the breakthough that I have wanted for so long. We had so much fun! We traveled all over the world; ate dinner in Rome, we played chess on top of the White House, we stood at the top of the Eiffel Tower, we even spied on her favorite actors and celebrities. But I knew that I messed up. She didn’t deserve what happened to her, I just forgot what she actually was; human. I treated her like she was one of my people. She was not dead, or hurt, or unhappy. She was actually completely alive, probably more than she had ever been in her entire life. I could have erased her memory, I could have made everything fine just like every other time I confided in a human. But I didn’t, I just left her there alone to make out what she had experienced the night before. And she would remember. Because it was not a dream.

    As I stood in the hallway, ironically waiting for the elevator to take me down to the ground floor. I thought about all the lessons my father had taught me about my “Gifts” and how I was to never reveal too much of myself to one human because there would be great consequence. And the world that they knew would quickly come crumbling down around them. I would be left alone to face the consequences that came with breaking the barrier between these humans and their world, and mine.

    My job was to simply keep things in order. Just to be here in-case anything from any other world spilled over into Earth’s reality. I did just the opposite; I had set the entire universe off kilter.

  41. Frost0731

    After every show it’s no surprise that I’m wiped but a good’s night rest is hard to come by so when the opportunity presents itself, I’m hard pressed to pass it by. Rachel Sowers seemed like a level-headed person so when she approached me outside of my van in Richmond and offered me a place to stay, I of course agreed. Wouldn’t you? Sleeping on the hard floor of the back of my van is not like staying at the Hilton.

    “I live just around the corner. I’ve got a spared bedroom and you can stay as long as you need to.”

    I should have been skeptical but I still believed that there were still caring people in the world…Rachel wasn’t one of them! Her house was two bedroom, two bath, clean and well taken care of. It was obvious she lived by herself. Any woman in her twenties would have felt right at home. She prepared dinner, fettuccine alfredo, my favorite, and brought out a bottle of wine.

    “To your career,” she said, toasting.

    I smiled, and nodded. My suspicions were rising but I let it slide; fans know things about who they follow. It wasn’t a big deal. After dinner, I thanked her and decided to call it a night. She was attractive but frankly, how much she knew about me frightened me.

    “Thank you so much for everything Rachel, but I’ve got to be in Virginia Beach tomorrow, so I’m going to go to call it a night.”

    “Good night, sweet dreams. I’ll see you in the morning.”

    She walked to her bedroom and shut her door. I shivered. I should have payed more attention to my instincts. My thoughts quickly blurred as I let sleep overwhelm me and collapsed into the softness of the bed.

    Light streaming in through the top of the window showed that I’d slept in later than I planned. I’d set my phone alarm for seven am; I must have been worn out. I tried sitting up but was pulled back to the bed by my right arm. My vision cleared as I became more awake and tried to make sense of what I was seeing. The blade that was buried in the palm of my right hand made my stomach do a somersault. Only the hilt was visible; the knife was embedded into the wood of the bed frame. Words wouldn’t come. I was in complete shock. This had to be a sick dream that my imagination had fabricated. Her voice cut through the fog.

    “Good morning.”

    Blood stained the mattress around my hand and dripped down the side of the bed to pool on the floor. I tried to reach the blade but my left arm was manacled to the bed post by handcuffs. Why couldn’t I focus and why wasn’t I screaming in pain?

    “The tranquilizers worked perfectly. You didn’t move an inch last night.” She sighed and pulled out another slender, long blade, “Now we can really get to know each other.”

    1. Observer Tim

      This was intense, Frost, a good read. I cannot see this ending well for the MC at all. Though I can see it ending. I had expected harm, but not that much harm. It leaves me wondering if Rachel is a stalker or a psychopath – perhaps a bit of both.

    2. calicocat88

      Whoa! Don’t mess with this chick! You did great slipping in bits and pieces about Rachel’s not rightness throughout the story. It pumps the reader up without giving too much away. The ending had me cringing. Yikes!

  42. toddd240

    Through Norma’s dishwater hair he could see freckles splotched across her face. She reached out and offered a couple of thin blankets she pulled from a closet. They smelled of dust and old sweat; not much better than the woolen bedding in Terry’s Volkswagen T2. “Thanks.” He smiled and took them.

    Her eyes wandered away from his gaze. She replied in a droning, apologetic tone. “Welcome. Sorry the couch isn’t comfortable.”

    “It’s great, really.”

    He turned and surveyed the couch. The brown and mustard plaid fabric was worn, clinging desperately to exposed rusty springs. It wasn’t often he accepted charity from an unknown fan, but she insisted during their brief conversation after the concert. She seemed harmless and his back refused another night in the van.

    After preparing the blankets, he went out to get his guitar. Terry would not take any chance leaving it unattended overnight; the old man who gave it to him warned against letting it out of his sight, ever. He used his sleeve to wipe a bit of night sweat from his forehead and walked back into the house. He saw Norma, wearing a dark blue bathrobe that was three sizes too big. She was in the kitchen pouring a drink. He sat and pulled the guitar close to the side of the couch. Terry scanned the living room. The walls were paneled with wood that was modern back in the seventies and mahogany bookcases lined the far wall, filled with old Reader’s Digests and leather bound books. He silently wondered if this house once belonged to a grandparent.

    Norma came back into the living room with a tall glass of what looked like iced tea with ice cubes clinking against the side. “Here you go. It’ll help you sleep.” She practically shoved the glass into Terry’s hands.

    It was inviting, chilled to the touch with a scent of sugar and honey. “Thank you, Norma, for everything.”

    She looked directly at him. He noticed that her eyes were so dark he could not tell where pupil met iris. She seemed to be looking deep into the back of his brain, leaning in far enough to make him withdraw an inch or two. “Good night,” she said directly and turned away.

    He thanked her, but she ignored him, retiring to some back room shutting off his lights as she went. He took a few long sips in the dark letting the cool, sweet liquid drain down the back of his throat. The quick, unnatural onset of deep sleep caught him unawares.

    It was still dark when he woke up. His head throbbed, but not like any headache he’d had before. He forgot where he was. Realizing, he reached out for his guitar. Terry felt nothing. His eyes darting for any sign of its whereabouts. Nothing. He shot up from the couch. He nearly slipped on the spilled glass of tea as he ran outside. The van was gone. His neck tightened and his guts turned to water.

    1. Observer Tim

      I find it odd to say that this story was told gently, but it was. The images were of a shabby run-down fan living in a shabby run-down house. Having Norma turn up gone came as a surprise. In a way I think this must be a musician’s worst nightmare.

  43. agnesjack

    Jesse awoke to the smell of bacon and coffee.

    “You’re much more handsome close up than on stage, Jesse,” she said. She was sitting on the floor next to the couch no more than a foot from his head. She had been watching him sleep. He abruptly sat up.

    “Thanks,” he said a little hoarsely and cleared his throat. He saw his guitar case leaning against the wall by the door. He was glad he hadn’t left it in the van.

    She stood up. She was younger than he remembered, with thin, non-descript hair that hung down limp just above her shoulders. Her eyes were very dark, almost black. He remembered being drawn to those eyes after the concert. They were striking and beautiful, but didn’t quite fit her narrow face. She was average height and weight, but her clothes were oversized and shapeless.

    “I made you breakfast, Jesse, darling,” she said.

    Darling?, he thought. He knew he hadn’t slept with her. She had asked him to play a few songs when they got to the apartment, but then she went to the bedroom and he fell asleep on the couch. He couldn’t even remember her name.

    “That’s real nice of you,” he said, “but I should probably be going.” He started putting on his boots.

    “That’s real nice of you, what?” she said with a frown.

    “That’s real nice of you, to, uh, make me breakfast,” he said, “but I really—”

    “How are you going to write a love song for me, sweetheart, if you can’t remember my name?” she said.

    O.K. Time to go. He stood, grabbed his jacket from the back of the couch and headed for his guitar and the door.

    “Listen,” he said over his shoulder, “thanks again for the use of the couch. Really appreciate it,” but when he picked up the guitar case it was too light. He turned and saw her standing there holding his prized possession by the neck, swinging it back and forth like a pendulum. He had worked his butt off for four summers during college to buy that Martin HD-28 SE.

    “Whoa, whoa. That’s a limited edition, uh . . . MIRIAM! That’s it, right? That’s your name,” he said, trying to smile warmly.

    She cocked her head and stopped swinging the guitar.

    “Listen, Miriam, I can’t write a song for you without my guitar can I?”

    “No, I guess not, hon,” she said, smiling coyly.

    As soon as he got his hands on the guitar he was out the door and down the stairs. When he got to his van, he reached into his jacket pocket but his keys weren’t there.

    “Jesse, darling,” came her voice from above. He looked up and there she was at the window, dangling his keys. Then she opened her blouse and stuffed them in her bra.

    As he trudged back up the stairs, he couldn’t decide which would be worse: to wrestle her for the keys, or write the damn song. Besides, he thought, what the hell rhymes with Miriam?

    1. snuzcook

      Wonderful! Nicely paced, no extraneous words; I could see the MC very clearly, right down to his facial expressions. AND it made me smile. Fabulous take on the prompt. Unfortunately, this seems all too believable.

    2. don potter

      Nicely done. He should write the song, find a way to get the key, and split first chance he gets. This women is like the one Clint Eastwood had to deal wit in PLAY MISTY FOR ME.

      1. agnesjack

        Great movie, don. Jessica Walter was so frightening as the obsessed and delusional fan. I don’t think Miriam is of that league, yet, but you never know.

    3. calicocat88

      My eyes bugged the entire time. Poor guy, lol! You nailed the dialogue, angesjack :) I enjoyed it! This Miriam is one freaky chick, lol! And I agree with snuzcook. It was easy to picture and love the MC. Great job!

      1. agnesjack

        I’m so glad that the MC came off sympathetic, calicocat. In my first draft, I didn’t feel that he was (she made him breakfast, for God’s sake), so I had to make Miriam a little more creepy to justify his abrupt exit.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Okay, Nancy, I’ve got the rhyme, “Miriam, the librarian.” Is there any way you can forward it to the poor soul? The song is from the musical, ‘The Music Man.

        I absolutely loved this story. It made me so uncomfortable when i read it, I worked button holes in my leather chair. I can’t say enough about your story. You’re running on all eight cylinders, petal down to the floor.

        1. agnesjack

          Thanks, Kerry, for your kind and encouraging comments.

          By-the-way, “The Music Man,” is one of my all-time favorites (and I’m not much of a musical fan). I think the librarian’s name is Marion, though, but close enough.

      2. agnesjack

        Thanks, Tim. My first draft was almost 600 words, so I had to whittle and whittle to get it down close to the limit. When I thought of having him wake up to her watching him, it helped set the stage so that I didn’t have to explain too much after that. It was a challenge.

      1. agnesjack

        Yes, frankd, that’s the only word I could think of, too, so, like you, I’d wrestle her for the keys. Thank you for your kind words about my style.

  44. suzjacksonn

    I’m new to this so don’t be too harsh. :)

    It was the faint smell of familiar cologne emanating from the couch that filled my nostrils and woke me out of a dead sleep that morning. I looked around the room and noticed some vaguely familiar surroundings: the pool table with half a dozen or so empty beer bottles scattered across it, the white furry rug in front of the fireplace with the odd brown stain on one corner, and the wall-to-wall windows on the far side of the room with the most amazing view of the Colorado mountains. It was familiar, and yet I still had no idea where I was.
    I fumbled my way past a sleeping Husky and some clothes strewn across the living room floor and found the bathroom; past three doors down the hallway, make a left, second door on the right. Something in my mind told me where it was but I couldn’t remember how I knew that. The light bulbs surrounding the vanity mirror lit up with the flick of a switch and illuminated my face. The ruby red lips I had sported the night before were now smeared across my chin and half of my right cheek. The false eyelashes were no longer eyelashes…. One was stuck at a diagonal across my eyebrow and the other was missing, probably attached to the couch that I’d had my face buried in. I cleaned up as much as I could and then ventured out on my search for another sign of life in the house.
    Something told me to make another right down a long hallway, and half way down I noticed my beat up Fender leaning against a wall. I remembered playing the gig at a hole-in-the-wall bar off of Market Street. I remembered the crowd being small but homely, and I remembered walking off stage, high on adrenaline, and finding a seat at the bar with a vow to drink the rest of my night away. I remembered the temperature being in the teens when I had stepped out for a smoke and how I had dreaded sleeping in my van again. The rest of the night was a blur after the first four rounds of drinks.
    The door opposite my guitar opened into a spacious, white-walled bedroom with a four poster bed towards the back. The outline of a sleeping figure drew me in. As I peeled the blanket away, trying not to wake whoever this strange man was, I almost dropped to the floor. Curled up in a ball, just the way he’d slept next to me for four years, was my ex-husband. The man was so gorgeous that I felt my hands start trembling as soon as I saw him. This man, who I hadn’t seen in over eight years, who had cheated on me for half of our marriage and then crushed me by filing for divorce, who had taken every penny that I had to my name, was now lying in front of me, sleeping like a baby. I had no idea how I was in his house but man, he was doing well for himself, and he looked just as handsome as he always had. His warm, brown eyes opened a crack, and his mouth turned up at the corners, hinting at that little smirk that I’d always loved. I felt myself melt. I had no idea how, or why, I had ended up sleeping on his couch, but I knew that this was the beginning of something that I didn’t want to start again.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is quite a nice tale, suzjacksonn. The description is vivid and detailed, painting a wonderful picture of the situation the MC finds herself in.

      Since your story is well told, I’ll fall back on one of my standard critiques: for ease of reading, please put an extra space between paragraphs. The white space doesn’t affect word count but does allow the reader to pause and catch their mental breath.

      1. suzjacksonn

        Well thanks for the critique…Was a little buzzed when I wrote it and simply copied and pasted from Word and this is how it came out. I’ll keep that in mind for future posts though.

    2. don potter

      Yes, the spacing made the post difficult to read but the story was worth the effort. Glad to see these kinds of strange occurrences happen to women as well as men.

    3. jhowe

      Suzjacksonn, that was a well told story. You did a nice job of leading us to the reveal. There were lots of hints that told us it may have been a pretty memorable night with the ex; if only she could remember.

  45. nastimal

    I awoke several hours after dawn to the sound of banjos playing louder and louder, approaching closer and closer. For a minute, my first thought was ‘paddle faster, I hear banjos,’ but then I realized this was only my band playing on the radio. Yet, I couldn’t shake the ominous feeling that something bad was about to happen down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
    “Did you enjoy your stay on our couch?” asked 37-year old Forest deWhit. He was dressed in blue denim overalls with no shirt underneath, he was chewing a piece of straw in his mouth, and he had on a worn straw hat.
    “Yes.” I replied as I suddenly remembered that my manager forgot to make sleeping arrangements for my show down in Baton Rouge. Fortunately, Forest was a good man and let me stay over after my show. “Listen, I hate to flaunt my fame but could you get me a cup of coffee?”
    Good-natured Forest had no problem getting a cup of coffee for a young semi-celebrity. Forest, however, replied, “My wife actually already made us breakfast if you want to join us.”
    Again, something told me that I shouldn’t accept the offer, but my stomach putting up an amazing argument telling me to eat something. I graciously accepted the offer and breakfast and made my way to the table. The smell of freshly cooked bacon began to instantly wake me up as I approached the table. Amber deWhit was an amazing cook and had put out a fabulous spread of bacon, eggs, hash browns, French toast, and apple cider. “You better eat up, today is a big day for a man such as yourself.” Amber had a nice, soothing voice. My travel day was a big day for me, I had to make it to Birmingham by nightfall.
    Just then, I heard footsteps coming down the stairs. That’s right, I had remembered the deWhits talking about their kid as I was falling asleep.
    Amber’s mellow voice once again spoke up, “Come downstairs dear, we’re just sitting down to a lovely meal now.” I figured that there was a good chance the kid was a girl because dear was often not a word to address a boy, especially not in the south. The deWhits probably told me last night but I was so tired that I passed out quickly.
    “Forgive our daughter for being late to breakfast, she’s just over the moon that you’re here right now.” Amber felt like she had to apologize but I was beginning to get a little uncomfortable that they seemed like they were walking on eggshells around me.
    “Guys, I’m a minor celebrity, please don’t act any differently.”
    “Don’t be silly, you’re much more than that to us.”
    I had suddenly regretted not checking the basement for any dead bodies before falling asleep.
    The daughter had finally come downstairs with a beautiful wedding dress!
    “Every Louisiana boy knows that sleeping on a man’s couch is payment for marrying his daughter.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Hoo-ee, somebody’s got themselves in trouble! Of course, there’s another traditional requirement for a military wedding (one where guns are present) … they’re usually consummated in advance.

      This is a good story about the beginning of a serious predicament.

  46. Popn152

    I took a few liberties with the prompt, but here you go:

    “It has nothing to do with you,” I told her. “I was exhausted. I’ve been on the road for five weeks, and we stayed so late at the club…I just crashed.” She didn’t answer right away, just stared. The anger hadn’t lasted long, replaced by a thin stoicism.

    “It’s just, you seemed so ready after the show,” she said. “Then we get here and you won’t even come into the bedroom. I mean using me for sex I get. It’s probably what I wanted. But why say what you said to me, if all you wanted was a place to crash?” The woman had a point. Why hadn’t I slept with her? She was certainly pretty enough; tall, brown hair, a little thick in the hips, ample up top, and sporting those girl-next-door freckles.

    “It’s like I said, I was exhausted and I had too much to drink. Believe me, I wanted to. Shit, I’ll prove it to you right now,” I said, leaning in.

    It didn’t take long for the stoicism to turn to disgust.

    “You’re joking, right?”

    “Of course,” I said.

    “So, do you need a ride back to the club? You’re parked there, right?”

    “If you don’t mind…”

    “Ok, I’ll throw some clothes on,” she shot back. I wished she wouldn’t. At least I got one more glimpse of her ass in those shorts as she walked away. It was beautiful. The brothers, man, when it comes to female anatomy, they know.

    As she went about covering herself up for no good reason, I couldn’t help but wonder why. Why hadn’t I fucked her? I was drunk, but it’s not like that had ever stopped me before. I might not have been at my best, but if she’s on top, who can tell?

    “Alright, let’s go,” She said, her light blue track jacket struggling to contain her. Christ. Why did I sleep on the couch?

    “Listen, again,” I mumbled as I fastened my seat belt. “I’m sorry about last..”

    “Don’t worry about it. I’m over it.”

    She reached down and turned on the radio. It was the Mumford Brothers or something like that. “See, this was what I was telling you, folk music is so much better with a whole band. You should try it out for you next album. I bet it would be awesome.”

    Oh, yeah. Now I remember.

  47. Popn152

    I took a few liberties with the prompt, but here you go:

    “It has nothing to do with you,” I told her. “I was exhausted. I’ve been on the road for five weeks, and we stayed so late at the club…I just crashed.” She didn’t answer right away, just stared. The anger hadn’t lasted long, replaced by a thin stoicism.

    “It’s just, you seemed so ready after the show,” she said. “Then we get here and you won’t even come into the bedroom. I mean using me for sex I get. It’s probably what I wanted. But why say what you said to me, if all you wanted was a place to crash?” The woman had a point. Why hadn’t I slept with her? She was certainly pretty enough; tall, brown hair, a little thick in the hips, ample up top, and sporting those girl-next-door freckles.

    “It’s like I said, I was exhausted and I had too much to drink. Believe me, I wanted to. Shit, I’ll prove it to you right now,” I said, leaning in.

    It didn’t take long for the stoicism to turn to disgust.

    “You’re joking, right?”

    “Of course,” I said.

    “So, do you need a ride back to the club? You’re parked there, right?”

    “If you don’t mind…”

    “Ok, I’ll throw some clothes on,” she shot back. I wished she wouldn’t. At least I got one more glimpse of her ass in those shorts as she walked away. It was beautiful. The brothers, man, when it comes to female anatomy, they know.

    As she went about covering herself up for no good reason, I couldn’t help but wonder why. Why hadn’t I fucked her? I was drunk, but it’s not like that had ever stopped me before. I might not have been at my best, but if she’s on top, who can tell?

    “Alright, let’s go,” She said, her light blue track jacket struggling to contain her. Christ. Why did I sleep on the couch?

    “Listen, again,” I mumbled as I fastened my seat belt. “I’m sorry about last..”

    “Don’t worry about it. I’m over it.”

    She reached down and turned on the radio. It was the Mumford Brothers or something like that. “See, this was what I was telling you, folk music is so much better with a whole band. You should try it out for you next album. I bet it would be awesome.”

    Oh, yeah. Now I remember.

  48. Rebecca05

    The blanket smelled of lilac laundry detergent and, for a brief moment, it reminded me that Mother’s birthday was two weeks from yesterday. She enjoyed the “Justified” television series and had my finances not been circling the bottom of the barrel like a dead guppy, I’d have bought her a season on DVD. But I was broke.

    Just like I was broke last year at this time. Old habits die hard.

    I threw off the blanket and cursed the band banging its awful drums at the front of my skull.

    I hollered, “Jayce?”

    “Good afternoon, Vicki,” he said, strolling into the cramped, but clean, living room. Dressed in jeans ripped at the knees and a black t-shirt with its sleeves torn, he resembled the former drummer he used to be.

    That is before the whole religious thing.

    Jayce tossed a bottle of water into my lap. I unscrewed the lid, gulped down half the bottle, and set it back down on the coffee table.

    “You wanna see the kid?” Jayce asked, gesturing towards the back bedroom with his thumb.

    I shook my head. “I…uh…I don’t want her to see me like this,” I mumbled.

    “Like what?” Jayce asked. “A loser? Worthless? Totally incapable of having any kind of future?” He combed the fingers of one hand through his poorly trimmed dark hair. “That’s what you said to me five years ago before walked out on me and our little girl.”

    I pressed the palm of one hand to my temple. “So what do you want, Jayce?” I didn’t care anymore. My miserable excuse of a life was like a drunken truck driver headed down an icy road towards a rickety old bridge.

    Jayce heaved a sigh and slumped into the woefully faded green recliner across from me. “I don’t know what I want, Vicki,” he replied. “I don’t know what alien parasite infected my brain and convinced me to let you crash here last night.”

    I said nothing to that and gulped down the rest of my water. “So…how’s the kid doing?” I finally asked when the silence threatened to strangle us both.

    Jayce rocked a little in his recliner. “I didn’t know you cared about her.”
    “I was in labor with her for 18 hours, Jayce. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be here.”

    Jayce just smirked. “You’re here, Vicki, because you got wasted after your show and was too drunk to even walk to the restroom to throw up.” He leaned forward and I could smell his woodsy-scented cologne. “By the way, you really shouldn’t mix four-alarm chili and bourbon. Pretty bad combo.”

    I rose shakily to my feet. “I’m leaving, Jayce. Whatever your gentlemanly intentions of bringing me here were, you failed. Hell, just like I’ve failed at everything, too.”

    Jayce grabbed my arm. “I guess with two failures like us as parents our little girl can’t be nothing but a winner now, can she?”

    Well, what could I say? He was probably right.

    1. snuzcook

      Great, Rebecca05! I really like your voice in this story.
      “My miserable excuse of a life was like a drunken truck driver headed down an icy road towards a rickety old bridge,” and
      “I don’t know what alien parasite infected my brain and convinced me to let you crash here last night,” were just a few of the lines I really liked.

    2. Observer Tim

      And how is it we end up drifting back to the same people in our lives again and again? The mind when half-asleep remembers the caring that got one into that situation in the first place.

      Good story, Rebecca. I especially like the clear and honest dialogue.

    3. agnesjack

      You covered a lot of ground in this short, sad story. You portrayed Vicki’s self-destructiveness in such a realistic way. I wanted to shake her. There is some hope for Jayce, though, and, I hope, the “kid.”

  49. Zane

    It was the smell of shit that finally woke me up, coming in the form of a fart being blown directly into my face from a strange asshole that was two inches away from my nose. This was followed by the sound of three men laughing hysterically.

    The events leading up to me being farted on my strangers slowly started coming back, populating my barely conscious mind. I had an awful hangover and for once in my life I actually enjoyed the mind numbing headache and nausea that was always there to greet me the morning after a night of heavy drinking, it kept my mind from processing the full load of humiliating events all at once. No, this night would have to be carefully reconstructed and then immediately stored in the “Things to Never Do Again” area of my brain.

    I had just finished my set and was carrying my equipment to the van when P.J., the greasy bartender, approached and asked if I wanted to “party”. In the ten years that I’ve been traveling around the country I’ve been asked to “party” countless times. This term has a wide range of meanings and it’s always best to have it clarified before agreeing to any “party”. You don’t want to accidentally agree to be butt fucked when you thought you were agreeing to a bump of coke. So I asked P.J. what type of party and he assured me it was just a regular house party. There’d be a keg of beer, drugs, girls, and most importantly, he said I could crash on the couch when it was all over. I immediately agreed.

    The party was in full swing by the time we arrived and P.J. had not been lying about what to expect. There looked to be about a hundred people, all transported from the bar, and everyone looked to be having a great time. I helped myself to a cup of beer and began scoping the crowd for a date. Before I finish that first beer someone screamed “Fucking Cuervo, man!” and started passing around an extra-large bottle of tequila. No salt and no lime for this crowd, it was simply take one down and pass it around. When the bottle came my way I tried handing if off without taking a drink (a lot of unclean looking people had already drank out of that bottle) which apparently is huge no-no amongst P.J. and his gang. The penalty for not drinking from the bottle was that I had to take two drinks. I realize that doesn’t make sense but you have to understand these “rules” were made up by drunk people. I once again attempted to get myself out of this game which was another penalizing offense and that meant, you guessed it, I now had to take three drinks. Not wanting to risk losing my spot on the couch, I finally gave in and took three long pulls out of the bottle. Goodnight brain, I thought to myself and proceeded to get wildly intoxicated.

    The details of the night are a bit blurry but I distinctively remember agreeing to the nickname “Fart Fuck” after I told someone that liked the smell of my own farts.

    I am now sitting in the E.R. waiting for someone to treat this nasty case of Conjunctivitis I received from being farted on so many times. I’m going to miss playing in several well paying rigs and I’ll be sleeping in my van the entire time. I think it might have been better if P.J. did simply want to butt fuck me. I still would have been able to play those shows at least.

  50. abhijit jiwa

    There were times when I knew the music would flow. And tonight was it. There was this smoothness to the sound, a kind of continuity that had me standing on the sidelines looking at myself play while my violin was on auto-mode. This was the first time we had played at Bay City and already I was beginning to like the place. The Orchid Lounge was a small club that catered to a group of resorts out in the bay. Elegant and suave, the place had lots of atmosphere , which I think added to the mood. I’ve been doing music for so long, its easy to recognize when a place suits your music and tonight was it. The place, the people, the music everything were in sync.

    And the cherry on top of the mood cake was Terry Kourtney. I’d noticed her in the crowd, her blonde hair swaying to the music, the smile a permanent feature on her lips. I’d found myself anchoring her in the audience, returning my gaze to her often as I could. I knew she was aware of this, as her gaze always met mine .

    After the show, we dispersed to the bar. The crowd was as good as it’d been in the concert. People came up for autographs. Jim walked up. “Great show man!” he said patting me on the back. “Thanks Jimmy. You were good too” Jim was on the bass.
    “Where’re the others?” I asked.
    “They must retired to the van. Having their own party. Have their own guests “ Jim said.
    “The Van” as Jim called it, was our band bus. A huge animal, with its own kitchen and suite room.
    Jim turned to acknowledge a woman who was speaking to him
    I turned back to the bar on my stool , asked for a refill of my whiskey.
    It was then I felt it. The same feeling I had all night . When things ‘flowed’ as I called it.
    She was there. Sitting next to me. Blonde hair falling all over her shoulders.
    “You were so good I couldn’t take my eyes off you.” She said, the sparkling smile all over her face.
    “ Oh thank you “ I said.
    “Kourtney.” She said offering her hand , which I took. “Terry Kourtney”
    “Nice to meet you Terry” I said. She knew my name. It was all over town on posters.
    Just like the music , the talk went away on its own. By the third drink, it was like I knew her for a long time. She stayed by herself in a flat. She was into real estate, and had an office uptown.
    She offered to continue the talk in her place. Said she would be thrilled to spend the rest of the evening with me. I couldn’t refuse and before long, we were at her place, on the couch, talking, laughing. Somebody had their button pressed on the ‘magic’ button , and before we knew it, we were kissing. The rest of the night was a whizz of her blonde hair, the smell of her unique perfume. “Tocca” she answered , when I asked her what it was. I snuggled deep into the magic of Terry Kourtney. The next thing I knew, it was morning, time to go, and my mind full of regrets.
    I should have known better than to accept Terry’s offer.
    Why? Simple. I was hooked.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A sophisticated romp thriough a romantic evening. Something fascinating about Terry Kourtney. Maybe her openness to life as you describe her. I also get the same undertones that Observer Tim has, maybe danger lurks here. All it does is ramp up your story. I felt myself in the club with you. Very realistic and enjoyable. .

        1. abhijit jiwa

          Thanks for the nice words Kerry. Appreciate it. Like I mentioned to Tim, Terry would be the key element. So your guess is a very good one. She would be involved in a situation into which our hero becomes an unexpected player. There would be great danger , yes, but it would not be Terry’s fault. She needs help. I would keep her approach to Tim innocent, as she too wouldn’t be aware of the situation she herself is in. So the meeting will eventually look not accidental. I would love to keep working on that. A novel that was born out of a prompt!!

      2. abhijit jiwa

        Thank you for the comments Tim. If I were to to continue that, I would likely make Terry a good person, but caught up in a very difficult situation , that would project her as negative. Then it would get all sorted out later. I would probably add in something about the hero’s past that will eventually make Terry’s meeting not a casual one. :)
        I typed that in ten minutes, and all the editing I did was a brief spell-check. So excuse the few mistakes and repetitions.

    1. snuzcook

      A very fluid story, abhijit jiwa. I enjoy your phrasing, like: “And the cherry on top of the mood cake was Terry Kourtney,: and “Just like the music , the talk went away on its own.” Really set the atmosphere of the piece. I agree, it was almost too idyllic so my imagination was looking for the balancing negative, but bad doesn’t always have to happen–sometimes there really is a happy ever after.

      1. abhijit jiwa

        Thank you Snuzcook for the comments. I agree with you in that the story needs the balancing negative. That would come later. I guess. 500 words were too short for me to fit in the negative. Our hero regrets coming in to Terry’s place, as he finds himself attracted to her, something his professional side had warned him not to, as any emotional involvement on tours was taboo, probably a band code as it were.
        Over the next few pages, they would meet again, and ‘blip-blip-blip’, the negatives will start to be exposed. Thanks again. Really appreciate your comments. :)

    2. don potter

      Getting hooked on the first encounter can bring all kinds of sorrow. Better to move on and carry this memory with you. It might keep you warm on a cold night. Nicely told.

  51. NoBlock

    The Number One Fan

    We wrapped up another set with a fan favorite and began packing up, which was going to take significantly more time tonight, since Jimmy didn’t show. He never misses a show, but it was his birthday yesterday and most likely he tied one on especially well and was still sleeping it off.

    As I was packing up, I was approached by a young man wearing one of our concert t-shirts. He seemed different than most fans, reserved about his ways, a calm demeanor that unguarded me instantly. He asked if I needed a hand with the equipment, and any other time I would have said no thanks, but we were in a bind without Jimmy. After chatting for a bit and explaining to him that my van was in a local shop for the night, he offered the couch on his house boat for the night.

    I readily accepted the offer as he did not put off like most crazed fans, and as it turned out my host was an inspiring song writer; a pleasant evening of conversation and composing was expected.

    We got to talking on the way to his house boat, when my host informed me that he was our bands’ number one fan, however he didn’t agree with all of our lyrics. His hands gripped the steering wheel tighter, his jaw clenched and he sped up considerably when I told him, “That’s what’s great about music, it appeals to different people in different ways.” But I was uneasy now. “Hey man you might want to slow down in this rain.” I said as a pit began rising in my stomach.

    He didn’t say another word until we arrived at his houseboat. “Get out.” He said as he grabbed a flashlight, “Power’s out due to the storm, but we can still talk about your lyrics when we get inside.”
    “Well, I think I’ll just hit the sack man. Gotta get up early and pick up the van before heading outta town.” I may have been wrong about this guy, he was creeping me out now.

    “Fine, if that’s what you want. See you in the morning.” He said as he shined the flashlight toward the couch.

    I lay down apprehensively and pulled the sheets tight up to my neck, but thankfully found sleep to come rather quickly.

    A strange noise coming from an unknown location awoke me the next morning. I moved towards it, but also noticed to my surprise, that we were no longer docked. Ocean was all I could see in any direction. My heart pounded as I followed the sound to a closed door. I yanked it open and gasped as I saw Jimmy gagged and bound with his eyes wide and wet with tears!

    He was trying to tell me something, and kept jerking his head upward.

    “Jimmy! What the hell?!” when I knelt down to untie him, his muffled screaming grew louder.

    I turned; saw my host and then the world went dark.

    1. Observer Tim

      Very good story, NoBlock. With any luck, the MC will only have to deal with a psychotic fan who wants to show off his new lyrics. If the luck is bad, he will have to deal with a psychotic fan who wants to join the band by creating a vacancy…

      This is a good opener to what could become a very intense story.

    2. snuzcook

      Great projecting by your MC explaining that the antagonist did not seem threatening. Built to a satisfying ‘uh oh’ factor and great set up for the rest of the nightmare experience.
      I’m eager to read more.

      1. PromptPrincess13

        I love how you led into the evolution of the fan, the smooth transition from easy-to-trust to this-guy-is- nuts. It was fun and well written. Great concept.

  52. Jayski91

    After Singing for two hours, I retired to the bar content to drink away the rest of the night. An older woman walked up to the bar and perched next to me. She ordered two long islands. I thought one was for someone else, but after she drank the first one her heavy hand moved to the next. I had never seen so many gaudy rings in my life let alone on one hand. Hotel California played on the jukebox and the bar was slowing to a crawl. The crowd tonight was a little strange, but I guess the norm for a dive bar. Middle aged men picking up on younger women along with the odds here and there.

    It had been a pretty good night for such a small town. I really hadn’t planned on making much profit, but my brother keeps telling me to pick up fans from every walk of life. My online fan base is much more supportive than some of the crowds I’ve been meeting. I slip my original songs in between the requested songs that keep the crowd listening.

    The little Asian women behind the bar shouted last call and I was pulling out a twenty when a young woman walked up to me. Her hand hovered as she slid her red fingernails up my arm. “Would you mind buying me the last drink of the night?” I wanted to touch her soft golden curls.
    .
    “Don’t mind my sister. She has had too many already.”
    I looked up at another woman, but instead of brown eyes like the first girl she had emerald green eyes.

    “I don’t mind, what’ll it be?” I said.

    We ordered a round of Pendleton shots. Well two for me and one for the blond. The brunette, Katy wasn’t drinking anymore tonight. I missed my bed, I never thought that would be the thing I missed the most about home. Actually I just missed sleep. Every night in the van is frustrating, tossing and turning to fall asleep just for a bit to wake and toss some more. My idea is to get so drunk I’ll just pass out and wake to the awful sunshine in the morning.

    I pulled out my keys and Katy gave me an evil stare.

    “Oh, I’m not driving. I sleep in my van; I live the glorious life of the traveling musician.”

    The next thing I remember I was waking up on a couch with a splitting headache. How did I get here? Oh yeah, they let me sleep on their couch, I remember walking past the boxes and laughing.

    “Why is your house empty with all these boxes?” I said.
    The blond giggled and Katy said, “We move a lot.”

    The boxes were now gone along with everything else, but the couch. I shuffled to the window and looked for my van, but it was gone too.

    I pulled out my phone, and read the text from my brother, “How’s it going?”

    1. Observer Tim

      Hey neat, the MC makes it through relatively unscathed, though he is going to have to rebuild his entire career. If “everything but the couch” is gone, his instrument is probably elsewhere also.

      It’s a well-told story, and definitely an example of a night to regret.

  53. john godfrey

    This Is For Sue:
    A Story Told in Haiku

    I wake with a sudden start
    From an innocent dreamland.
    My head’s killing me.

    I have a hangover.
    I played at a bar last night
    And got really drunk.

    I wipe drool away
    From the corners of my mouth
    And slip on a shirt.

    The couch I slept on
    Was really comfortable,
    Much more than my van.

    The girl’s name is Sue.
    She is just my type of girl:
    Quiet and brunette.

    She said she’s a fan
    And it would be an honor
    For me to crash there.

    After my music,
    She offered a place to stay
    Because it was cold.

    A low in the tens?
    It was just too cold for me
    To sleep in my van.

    I accepted it
    And I slept on her warm couch
    For many hours.

    As I looked around,
    I noticed the room was weird.
    It had changed since night.

    Once a living room,
    It changed into a dungeon
    And I was trapped there.

    I tried to get up
    I was chained to the stone wall
    And could not get out.

    Suddenly, Sue’s here.
    She says she loves me
    And my music too.

    She loves my lyrics
    And my rhythm and my rhyme
    She wants me to stay.

    “Forever”, she says,
    “You can write poetry
    And sing me the words.

    “You can play guitar
    Sweetly like you do always
    And love me forever.”

    With no other choice,
    I agreed to her strict terms
    And now I’m trapped there.

    I write songs for Sue
    I write poems for her and
    I write haikus.

    However, there was
    a condition to my life:
    Write only for her.

    She has threatened me
    With harm if I contact help
    From the outside world.

    Judging from the pics
    Of men all over the wall,
    She’s done it before.

    The dog probably
    Took care of the ones she no
    Longer loved anymore.

    Hopefully I’m loved
    Much longer and more than the
    Others she has kept.

    Sleep doesn’t matter
    The music doesn’t matter
    Only Sue matters.

    This isn’t for me,
    This isn’t for the police,
    This is all for Sue.

    1. don potter

      A difficult situation for igniting creativity. What happens when she gets tired of you and brings home another guy? Guess you’ll be going to the dogs. Oh my.

    2. PeterW

      Wow you are truly a poem. I was amazed that you kept it all in haiku while telling a really compelling story. You honestly have a talent my friend. Good writings. Petey

    3. snuzcook

      Chilling, John, very good and chilling. Makes me want to forward the poem to the nearest constabulary so they can rescue him. Nice choice to tell the story in the form of the story. Well done.

      1. PromptPrincess13

        This seemed to me to have been delicately crafted and yet, it packed a punch that was borderline creepy. It was great and I was enraptured from beginning to end.

  54. op2myst

    It always gets them. The old standards like, Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Who hasn’t had some problems in life? I could say I have had more than my share, but I haven’t. Life hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been that hard and at least I’m following my dreams of making music. And tonight I get to sleep indoors on a couch instead of in that lousy, uncomfortable, cold, old van. She said I reminded her of her daughter who had played guitar and sang too. Normally, I don’t take any chances on the road, but in some way Sarah reminded me of my mother and I was taken by her saying I was like her daughter, so I accepted her offer of dinner and a place to crash.
    The smells coming from the kitchen were a reminder of home and dinner was absolutely delicious. The roast beef was tender and fell off the bone. The veggies were colorful and fresh, right out of her garden and the bread pudding was to die for. I hadn’t been this comfortable or felt this good for a long time. The road takes its toll with its fast food, long drives and audiences who don’t pay attention. Sarah offered me a little piece of home.
    I settled down under the comforter and was just starting to fall asleep when I heard crying. As I listened, It seemed like it was coming from somewhere in the house. At first I tried to ignore it, but finally I got up to see what it was. It was coming from a door at the end of the hall. As I stood outside, the crying escalated like someone was hurt. It was a soft, high sound, almost like a child’s crying. Not sure what to do, I thought about just leaving. At last I knocked at the door, but no one answered. The crying stopped and I started to get scared. What if I misjudged her and she was a kidnapper like the guy in Cleveland? Or even worse, what if she was a murderer? I stood still and my stomach clenched in a ball. I was afraid to leave and afraid to stay. Just as I turned to walk back down the hall, the door opened. It was Sarah, but she was disheveled and distraught. She had been crying and I realized it had been her crying I heard. Then I saw the bloody knife in her hand, the blood gushing from her chest and her wild eyes. It wasn’t a murderer I faced, but a woman who had nothing to live for. Her daughter had died a year ago to the day and her depression could not be resolved. The songs I had sang that night and the way I sang them had moved Sarah in a way that can’t be explained. I had brought her to her final solution.

    .

    1. PeterW

      Damn I love a story that shocks me and creeps me out. I think you have a great thing going man. Keep posting. I would say its a privilege to read your writing =D.

  55. thejim

    Gerry opened his eyes slowly. His head was cloudy; it was difficult to focus his thoughts.
    His brow furled as the intense light dug into his eyes, no amount of squinting help ward off the blazing light. Trying to clear his mind and remember was challenging. He shut his eyes; and recalled that he had just finished the last set at a cheesy hole in the wall bar and hoped he had enough money to grab a bite and cozy up in the back of his 1973 Chevy Van. Then a woman approached and went on about how she loved his music; she took him out, paid for dinner, and told him he could crash on her couch for the night. Gerry tried to open his eyes but could not they were too heavy he just faded of into darkness.

    Gerry woke again this time with more vigor; He opened his eyes and raised his head. He was strapped into a hospital bed but he soon realized he was not in an actual hospital. There was a faint smell of mildew that lingered in the air. The walls were made of plastic there were several shop lights facing him, he tried to move but his body was frozen. He noticed an IV bag attached to a wire hanger that dangled precariously from a pipe on the ceiling. He tried to read the writing on it as he did a hand reached to the tubing that came from the bag. Gerry’s head began to feel heavy his neck could not hold the weight as it fell back on the table, and the room once again went black.

    Gerry woke a third time this time he quickly came out of his fog. The smell, somehow stronger now, instantaneously reminded him of where he was. He did not open his eyes he listened, focusing all of his attention, trying to pick up any sound. He wanted to be sure he was alone. He opened his eyes quickly only darkness enveloped the stillness of the room. He could not see the IV bag or anything for that matter. The straps that held his legs were gone. Gerry sat straight up his eyes had not yet adjusted to the darkness. He felt in some way different, he felt alive, invigorated. He slid off the table and landed on the ground the table seemed to be larger than most tables its height was peculiarly disturbing. Gerry looked down at his body but could not make out anything. He felt around the room try to find a way out. All the furniture seamed larger than normal. He followed the edge of the plastic till a seam appeared. He made his way out of the room toward a light at the end of a hall. It was in that room that he saw what had happened. The light revealed a large mirror strangely placed in the center of the room. Gerry slowly approached the mirror and stared at his reflection.
    “I’m, I’m a… a…” Gerry’s realization caused his legs to become week and his body hit the floor. Gerry faded off and he had the most marvelous dream about bananas.

    1. snuzcook

      Wow, you never know what will happen with strangers in a bar! I hadn’t expected transformation surgery. The ending struck me as funny, I felt guilty laughing after the nightmare experience your poor MC was going through. I had the impression that Gerry was going to make a very good ape.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Don’t laugh at monkeys, snuzcook. an average chimp has about five times the strength of a man. Be a monkey, better than dead. I also enjoyed your story, thejim. Just enough doubt going on in his head. Most men don’t need surgery or drugs to turn into an ape, just a good looking woman can accomplish the same thing.

  56. rapidbutterly

    Dom looked around the room dazed, it was official he was hand cuffed to a bed, and not in a good way. His arms stretched from one bed post to the other, wearing nothing but his birthday suit, sitting like a sacrificial lamb with nothing to say for himself. The bed sat in the middle of the room, black candles burned any place that black satin didn’t hang.
    Dom leaned his head against the head board closing his eyes, he had to find a way out before the crazies came back. When Amber had invited him upstairs to meet her sisters, he had assumed she meant biological sisters, not wicked witch of the west, coven sisters with all of their witchery or what ever you call it. The night had started out better then most, how could it go so wrong?
    He had a gig in some small, couldn’t blink cause you’d miss it, back woods town. The bar he played in was as small and run down as the town but his one night thing turned into a three night thing. They had all of two radio stations, one of them being all Christian, they wouldn’t know good music if it bit then in the ass, but still he was proud of himself, he felt like he was starting to get some where.
    Dom sat at the bar after the gig, the night was still young and even though there hadn’t been many good prospects roaming around he wasn’t going to let that stop him. He’d just go with the time honored tradition, drink till they look good, he seriously over did it.
    When Amber walked in not only did she look sexy as hell but she looked sane. She wore a short black skirt with a matching low cut top, fish nets and boots with a 5 inch heel that came up above her knees, what he had dubbed hooker boots, but what really got his attention was the pink and black hair.In Dom’s experience a little goth meant a whole lot of freak, just the way he liked them.
    It didn’t take long before she invited him back to her place for the night. Who was he to say no, for all he knew she was saying couch but what she really meant was bed, her bed. Either way even the couch would have been better then sleeping in his van, alone, again. Now that he thought about it his van seemed like the play boy mansion compared to this place.
    Dom slammed his shoulder into the head board, praying it was some crappy ikea bed. If he could get it to crack he could get out. After more then a few hits the so called wood split giving him enough room to break the bed post free from the rest of the head board. With shards of the post still dangling from the hand cuffs Dom climbed out of the window not wanting to risk taking the stairs.
    Still in all his glory, he creeped around to the front of the house hoping his van was still there, he would worry about clothes when he got to a saner part on town. Dom bypassed the front doors to the van, Amber still had his keys but Dom was in such a rush to come to this hell hole that he didn’t bother locking the back .
    He opened the doors and jumped back. Amber sat waiting on one of his amps wearing nothing but her thigh high fish nets and hooker boots. Even sober she still looked sexy, crazy but sexy. Dom turned to run, the odds of him out running some chic in heels seemed really good but he didn’t get far. Dressed to match Amber’s sisters had strolled up behind him blocking him from the road. “oh sweet heart you can’t leave now we need you.” Amber looked down at the broken shards hanging from his wrist. “Mmmm” she purred “you broke my bed, guess that means I get to break you.”

    1. don potter

      ‘Drink till they look good’ is indeed a time honored tradition for must of us guys. Dom seems to have bitten off more than he can chew this time.

  57. zmiley

    “Wow, what a difference!” Jack thought to himself as he rubbed at his sleepy eyes. “This couch is a lot more cozy and comfortable than the hard, narrow bench in the back of my van. Let me catch another few minutes of shut eye before I hit the road again.” He turned over on the foldout sofa bed and promptly dozed off again. In his dream, he was playing for the small crowd in the local lounge and a pretty brunette came over after to gush over his playing. She was star struck and readily offered him to come home with her. Such were the actual events of the night before but in his dream he was not sleeping on the couch.

    When Jack awoke hours later, a quick glance at the clock told him he was 3 hours behind schedule. He had wanted to head out at 12 and it was nearing 3 pm. He jumped up, quickly threw on his rumpled jeans and t-shirt and hurriedly slipped his feet in his Converse. Jack grabbed his duffel bag and guitar case and threw open the door to the den. All of a sudden, a wailing noise pierced the silence. He turned to check out the cause and noticed a flashing red motion sensor across the hall. Within moments bars came down over all the windows and the door to the street. In the distance he could hear sirens blaring as he stood rooted to the spot. Police were on their way and Jack had no way to prove he was an invited guest.

    After what felt like both the shortest and longest 2 minutes of his life, a police cruiser pulled into the driveway followed by a sleek black Mercedes. He remembered the car from last night. It belongs to the owner of the house, Miss Brunette. Jack watched out the window as she walked up the path to the front door, opened a hidden panel, punched a few buttons and stepped back to her car. The bars over the door slid back into place and police cautiously entered the house, their guns drawn. Jack held hands up in surrender. “I’m a guest. I played at the club last night and the lady offered me a place to sleep out the night. I only just woke up,” he defended.

    One cop, who had the name Smith on his badge, lowered his gun a fraction of an inch and pulled out his radio. He spoke to his partner still in the cruiser, “Intruder claims he was invited to sleep here.” A few moments went by as the cop in the cruiser strode over to the Mercedes. He conversed with the brunette and then radioed back, “No such confirmation. Lady denies having guests overnight. Take him in.”

    Smith put away his gun and cuffed Jack while another cop reads him his rights. They lead him out to the back of the cruiser and shoved him in like a real criminal. Jack turned to glance out the window and caught the eye of Miss Brunette. She stood with her hands folded over her chest and shot him a self-satisfied smirk. Her hand then lifted up a paper on which she had wrote, “sorry, you look too much like my ex”.

    1. PeterW

      Damn Mr. Zmiles, what a take on this prompt. Can I say it expanded my mind. And Mrs. Brunette, she reminds me of my mother… I mean not my mother, but I can really picture her, you know. I get a solid image in my mind of her. And if you can give that image, that solid, substantial image to a reader, well then, that’s a gift. You need to continue writing. I think some day I’ll be reading a thriller of yours. I’m just so enthralled and waiting for the next installment from you zmiles-piles. Keep up the top-notch work!!!!!!!!

  58. snuzcook

    REGRETS

    Moonlight throws leafless branch shadows across the gray carpet. Above them on the couch, I lie under a warm blanket in hopes of sleep. I study the shadows, tracing patterns, seeing shapes of faces and animals. There is a song in there, somewhere, an emotion not yet named that I am trying to shape into words.

    Across the room a vintage guitar occupies a special place. Gracie told me it belonged to her grandfather. His photo sits on the shelf next to it, along with other mementos and personal journals she has saved from his years as a musician. I think that is why she invited me to crash on her couch, in remembrance of her grandfather. Maybe she was trying to reconnect somehow with someone who lives a similar life, speaks a similar language.

    Gracie knows the manager of the bar where I was playing last night. When she heard that I was sleeping in my van, and the temperatures looking to drop into the 30s overnight, she offered me to sleep on her couch. “Nothing fancy,” she said, “But it’s clean, and I’ll fix you a hot breakfast.”

    Gracie reminds me of my Aunt Jess, an aging hippie with a long gray braid and a beaded leather jacket. We walked the short distance to her little house. Before lights out, we shared a joint and some cold pizza, and she asked me about myself. I told her about the jobs that never panned out, my short unhappy college days, my short, unhappy marriage, and my dreams of touching other people with my music. She told me about the old man. He had been a lot like me, she said. He had played at bars and dances and fairs with his band all through the 1940s and ‘50s, doing a circuit of small towns all around eastern Washington and Idaho.

    I look across the dark room at the clock: 3:45. I know I’ll never fall asleep unless I can distract myself somehow from the same old demons that haunt me every night. I get up and go to the shelf where the old man’s journals are shoved together between a large piece of petrified rock and a fat family bible.

    For the next two hours I read the thoughts put down by a stranger in a time and place I have never been, and discover I am reading my life in his words. He wrote about the excitement and boredom of life on the road, about the disappointed parents and the unhappy marriage he had left behind, drawn ever onward by what he came to call the mirage of his career. In the last journal, as the moonlight is overtaken by the brightness of dawn, I read of his regrets, of his desire for the roots that he had once rejected. And then I read of the reason he found to give up the road; the elusive love that had found him when he wasn’t looking. At forty-five, middle age for a man in those days, he had found his Bess and settled down to the business of making a family.

    The journals stopped then. He had someone to share his memories without the need to record them.

    Gracie shuffles through the living room on her way to the kitchen. “You get any sleep?”

    “I sat up reading your grandfather’s journals,” I tell her.

    “What did you think?” she asks.

    “I think I’m going home.” I say.

    Gracie gives me a knowing smile, and puts the coffee on.

    1. jhowe

      Snuzcook, as one of your biggest fans, I liked this story. “The excitement and boredom of life on the road….” it kind if says it all. Nice job on the moonlit shadows of leafless branches.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A very touching, personal story unfolds as the reader enters it. It’s kind of haunting in a way. I love the personal touches you instilled, the shadows, the fat bible holding his journals.

        His grandfather’s quest and denial appears to most of us and this is where the charm and power appear in your story. Beautifully crafted.

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, Time and Jayski91. My writing used to be made up of exhaustingly long descriptions, and this short, short story format helps me learn to keep them in the right balance.
        Glad you enjoyed it!

    2. PeterW

      You comment a lot on my prompts Mrs. Snuz, but I never really have the courage to comment on yours. It just that I admired you SO much as a writer. I want to emulate and write like you, and each week I read you responses here at least three times to try to figure out how you pull it off. I love the way you have these little details that become anchors for the reader. The other commenters mention some above. It such a good technique. One I personally wish I could pull off. When you do get published in the big times, I hope you hide a reference to snuz and cooking and writersdigest, so we recognize that its you! I feel like your voice is so strong we’ll recognized right away though. I’m so excited. Please give us more good prompt responses!

      1. snuzcook

        (*^_^*)

        Peter, I think it is so fascinating how much I draw and learn from every other writer on this forum. I find your voice, along with others here, in my stories frequently. It enriches the fabric. Thank you for your kind words.

    3. abhijit jiwa

      Loved reading that Snuzcook. I like the natural way the scene rolls. Something very captivating about the story telling. I see a very huge book in there. A saga perhaps, of a woman’s self-discovery. You have a great talent. I actually find myself looking for the next page, and the next chapter. Can’t wait for more. I liked the phrases; “……my short unhappy college days, my short, unhappy marriage” and “…….what he came to call the mirage of his career” very much. Short yet very descriptive. Good work!

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, abhijit jiwa! I hadn’t really thought about it as a longer piece, but what a nice idea!

        PS: I purposely do not identify the gender of my MC in many of my stories–just a quirk of mine. As I wrote this one, I pictured my MC male, but I love that each reader is able to relate in whatever way the story speaks to him/her. I like the MC as female, a whole different dimension.

    4. agnesjack

      I loved this, snuzcook. The descriptions of the MC’s hopes and desires and the connection to the grandfather and all those who have attempted to fulfill those artistic dreams before, were beautifully portrayed. But when reality gently showed its face, dispelling “the mirage of his career,” he accepted it. Very nice.

    5. calicocat88

      Snuzcook, you touched a special portion in my history with this story. Besides, the eloquent description and details, I understood perfectly the life of a musician–from another pair of eyes. My dad was and still is an amazing drummer. He was self taught at a young age and people were always telling him he would go places. He and his brothers used to go around, playing at churches and what-not as teenagers. They recorded in studios–they were on their way. He was offered to play for a country band, on tour and all that great stuff. He turned that life down for one of simplicity. I often wonder if he regrets it–he’s just so awesome. My brother and I play now–my brother being the more talented. This was just a special story. Thanks for writing it :)

      1. snuzcook

        Thank you for sharing this, Calicocat. Your dad sounds like a wonderful man.

        I worried a little that this story was a bit defeatist, but it was intended as just one person in one life having a moment of reflection. More of the people we meet everyday have that spark of talent than we might suspect, and harbor dreams or memories of trying for fame and fortune at some point in their lives. I guess we on this forum do, too.

      1. PromptPrincess13

        I agree wholeheartedly with all the comments here and I always look forward to your prompts, snuzcook. You just simply can’t beat authentic, strong writing, and that’s what is so great about your stories- they all have it.

        (sorry if this double-posts. The website says I’m posting too quickly :( )

      2. snuzcook

        Thanks, Frank.
        I had not considered expanding this piece, and it scares me a little that I might not have a broader story to tell. Thanks for challenging me!

  59. jhowe

    Guitar Man

    During my break before the last set, I was sitting with a group of my latest fans at Fandangos, a Cincinnati bar and grill in the heart of the entertainment district. The place was pretty crowded and a sexy little brunette named Mandy was showing a lot of interest.

    I often tried to pick up a girl at the end of my show, for obvious reasons, and also for the sake of having a comfortable place to spend the night. I got $375 for my performances and since I didn’t get a gig every night hotels were seldom an option.

    Mandy was still there when I wrapped it up and she grabbed a few stray items and helped me load the van. “You should consider a job as a roadie,” I said. “You’d be able to retire in a few years.”

    “I might consider that,” she said. “Where are you staying tonight?”

    “You’re looking at it.”

    Her smile was mesmerizing. “I’m staying with some friends at a house on Long Lake. It’s not far away. Are you interested in one last set?”

    “So I have to sing for my supper?”

    “Something like that,” she said.

    “Lead the way,” I said, admiring her sashay as she walked to her car.

    The lake house was not as impressive as I had hoped. We both parked in front of a detached garage on the opposite side of the road and walked down a weed strewn pathway to the house. I carried my guitar case and Mandy carried my duffel bag.

    We walked into a messy kitchen where two guys sat at a table drinking tequila and smoking weed. “Dude,’ one of them said. “You never played Freebird.”

    “I don’t know Freebird.” The asshole had loudly requested the song about five times at Fandangos.
    “Well you better learn it, cause I want to hear it”

    “The song’s like an hour long,” I said. “I’ve never tried it.”

    “Then I guess you’ll be doing some things tonight you may or may not like.” The guy lowered and lifted the zipper of his jeans several times while staring at me with raised eyebrows. The other guy started cleaning his fingernails with a large knife. Mandy was nowhere in sight.

    “Oh, Freebird,” I said. “Why didn’t you say so?”

    I opened the case and took out my Gibson. I started playing chords and singing random words. I threw in a Freebird occasionally and the guys were swaying and one of them had tears in his eyes. When the other guy started to tear up, I ended the song, put the guitar away, grabbed my duffel bag and walked out. The guys were smoking more weed and blubbering to each other and saying things like, “hell yeah,” as the door closed.

    At the top of the hill I put my gear in the van and opened the door to the car I assumed belonged to the guys, lowered and raised my zipper a few times and took a long piss on the front seat.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      That-a-way, jhowe. They deserved every bit of it. There is something about good-ol-boys. The bigger, nastier and uglier they are, the more they cry over their mother, pick-up truck and the jeans they wear getting dirty. You took me right along with you on this story, a nice piece. [ The story that is.]

    2. don potter

      When will we men learn that when the little head does the thinking for the big head we invariably end up in trouble? Our boy should have split the moment he saw the gang of stoned and drunk guys just waiting to have fun at the expense of someone else. The final act was appropriate; however, it’s a good idea to know rather than assume whose car it is before peeing on the front seat.

    3. Observer Tim

      Good one, jhowe. Always remember that people who combine stoned and drunk are, well, stoned and drunk. Mandy was a real piece of work.

      Even though the MC played ‘Freebird’, I could still hear the dueling banjos.

    4. PeterW

      You are actually good. Occasionally I get all the way through your responses, and you should considered this a complement because I’m usually done after one a few lines on most of these. How old are you? Have you ever been in a writing workshop? I always used to wonder why people wanted asked for freebird and then I downloaded it semi-legally and honestly its an awesome song, plus the first five minutes are not to hard to play. I do like Zepplin though. Enough Rambling. Keep posting… I gonna assume your name is like jake, john, james, jack, and also a male…so yeah, yeah, yeah.

      1. jhowe

        Thanks for the feedback Peter. Freebird is a pretty good song, kind of has a cult following for us 55 year old males who grew up in the era. (Hey, I’m younger than Don and Kerry). I’m thinking you might play guitar? I’ve never had any formal writing training, though I do a lot of reading and studying on the writing of fiction. Id’d really like to try publishing something if I can muster the energy.

    5. snuzcook

      Oh, jhowe, you got me laughing! The story was well done, and I loved the ending. Tho, I gotta say, the thought that crossed my mind was: “It would be a fitting retribution except they’ll probably never notice.”

    6. agnesjack

      How many concerts have a I been to where some idiot keeps screaming the same request. Enjoyable story, jhowe, with a very funny ending. I loved how the MC made the song up and they didn’t know the difference.

    7. calicocat88

      Everybody wants to learn to play Freebird, lol! I love how this guy didn’t know how to play it and didn’t want to. The guys by the fire were a trip too, lol! Unexpected ending, but it made me laugh. Great job :)

  60. Kerry Charlton

    DOUBLE JEOPARDY

    It was the summer of ’62. I had one year left at Texas State University in San Marcus. I struggled with a fine arts degree, majoring in music, classical composition. I knew I wasn’t good enough but I stayed anyway. Three Sigma Chi fraternity brothers and myself hit the highway that summer playing cowboy two-srep, foot stompin’ and belly rubbin’ music in the honky tonks of the Texas Hill Country.

    We worked for tips and free beer and maybe a sandwich thrown in. I remember the night we played the dance hall in Gruene, Texas. Eighty years prior, settlers and ranchers danced there, drinking beer and carousin’ with the ladies of the evening. It was hot that Saturday, 102 in the shade. We played that ol’ dance hall that had seen fresher sunsets. Most of the women emulated the honky tonk but one, a striking redhead took up with me during the late break.

    Her offer to sleep on her couch instead of a van with three smelly guys on a hot, steamy night, seemed a Godsend. Her name was Ava, no last name given. Her legs ran forever before they touched the wooden planks of the dance floor. Her graceful, swan-like neck descended to a pair of smooth, creamy shoulders holding beautiful, tight breasts straining a sheer peasant blouse.

    Her fingers were slender and delicate when she placed them on the back of my neck, pulling me to her perfect, full lips. I was smitten, entrapped and didn’t give a damn about anything except Ava, Ava, Ava.

    When I settled in with her, she hadn’t told me about Lola, her room mate. At the climax of love makin’, Lola appeared wearing tight, black toreador pants, spike heels and nothin’ else. Oh yeah, she carried a mean-lookin’ bull whip which she proceeded to lace me with.

    In the heat of passion, I had allowed Ava to strap me to the headboard and the footboard with black silk tassles. I bled profusely as Lola’s whip lashed around my body, bitin’ like a demonized rattler, while I heard gales of laughter from the two of them. . After more lovin’ they released me and tended my welts in a quiet manner.

    But that’s not the end of my tale, for you see, they both climbed on top of me and started the lovin’ all over again. Four in the morning, they dumped me out of their car on the steps of the local hospital for three days of recoup.

    My regreat? Oh yeah, why? It was the best lovin’ I ever had and I was only twenty. Never again would I experience what I knew was possible to acheve. For Lola and Ava left Gruene, Texas that morning at first light, never to be heard from since.

    Was it real or just a dream? You decide.

    I’ll help you along. In a small cabinet nestled in my closet, top drawer, resides a black bull whip stained with blood, so old it had crusted and fallen off. I keep the blood flakes in a small envelope and tuck them under my pillow at night.

    1. jhowe

      Kerry, that was written by someone who knows something. I’m not saying it was you, but….
      Anyways, I enjoyed your tale. I would love to see the honky tonks of West Texas Hill Country. Did you miss the last prompt? Very unlike you. You told me in your response to my first story that if you missed a prompt that we should check you because you might be dead. I was getting ready to book a flight. Whew.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks jhowe. I never received a prompt after the resolutions prompt. I wondered what the hell was going on. It doesn’t show in the this prompt above. What was it and better yet, where is it?

        Thanks for being comcered jhowe. And you’d be in for a treat in Gruene Texas. Same building, same dance hall, sitting on the Guadalupe River since the late 1800’s. You know everything’s bigger, better and older in Texas, including your’s truly.

    2. don potter

      Missed your prompt last week. Glad you’re back. You did it with a vengeance. This is quite a story. Either you have a vivid imagination or a terrific memory. I read your post a six this morning. It was a real eye opener.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Memory’s pretty damn good, Don. I ain’t saying it was me but what do you think?My imagination’s also pretty good. Thanks for the compliment. Sorry I missed the last one, I never received it and it didn’t cross reference anywhere.

        1. don potter

          I have the same problem with the prompts from time to time. So if one doesn’t arrive by Friday(so many emails come in from WD), I go back to the previous week and look for a new title. Now for the key question, does the envelope filled with blood flakes make your pillow a bit lumpy?

    3. Observer Tim

      Wow, Kerry. This was a brilliantly-told tale. Memory or made-up, who cares? You told it with a realism that speaks of a lifetime of experience. The characters are real (or realistic) and the settings described with a wonderful familiarity.

      Great story.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Tim, I have spent a lot of time in Gruene and have been to that ancient dance hall a time or two. I think Ray Price played that night. It’s a German settlement around 1875 and the first thing they built was a Texas beer garden AKA honky tonk dance hall.

        Everybody thinks this story is real. Well, what of it? If you look careful you might still the the welts. You won’t get the truth out of me. I might have married one of those girls. Who knows? I might have married both of them, different times of course.

        1. jhowe

          OK, the debate is on. I think the story is real… in your mind. You may have imagined it so many times the story just flowed out of you. I think you used Lola in another story some where. Maybe she is real. The world may never know. Ray Price huh… I guess you are old.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            You wanta know who I know? Sat in Tom Jones dressing room for two hours in Las Vegas on his first concert in the USA. I had my wife with me and her first name is Delilah. He sang the whole song to her and wondered why we would fly across the country to see him.

            We were London record distributers then and Parrot records is owned by London. The year? 1967

            Go back a little to 1961, when I spent a day with Mary Travers, Paul Stokey and Peter Yarrow making the rounds to radio stations in Dallas who had no idea who Peter, Paul and Mary were. I got a real look over from Mary who stood five ten and was a knockout then. There’s advantages in being old, ask Don.

    4. snuzcook

      You had me at “foot stompin’ and belly rubbin’ music.” Your story was a fun ride (pun intended!).
      Kinda reminds me of Pecos Bill…not saying I don’t believe it, but…

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks snuzcook. Pecos Bill was one of my favorites and still is. You know our state is home to tall tales. I’m not saying it’s true nor am I denying it. I do have scars however on my arms and body. Did they come from this story. Maybe.

    5. maxnenator

      The story evoked some wood. Know what I mean? A little sick though. Has the quality of a dream and the content of a memory. Told like a cowboy riding the range. Definitely fires the imagination with plenty of room for my own personal edits. Pretty good yarn…

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks for the critique, maxnenator. snuzcook, guessed it first by mentioning stories of Pecos Bill. but you hit the nerve of this tale. An old cowboy take, late at night, a lonely bar with a couple of strangers listening to him, made as wild and wide open as his drunk mind could come up with.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I was winking, laughing and smiling all the time, writing this. It came out at one time and there’s not a word of truth in it. Thanks for the web site information. I’ll keep it in file. I knew there must have been a prompt and I went back through the last six and nothing gave me a clue. Happy writing this year. KC

    6. calicocat88

      Well, well, well ;) Kerry, surely this was all fiction, lol! The funniest part out of all this craziness is that not only did he keep the whip, but he saved the blood crust and kept it under his pillow, lol! Don’t know where you come up with this stuff, but it’s good :) I have a feeling this story may stick with me for a while…and whenever I hear something about Texas, lol!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Calico. I have no idea where these ideas come from. If you knew my life style you would wonder yourself. I’m a middle of the road person, going through life as a non entity. But the dreams are very weird and imaginative and in blazing full color.

        I’ve heard that guys dream in black and white, but not this one.

    7. frankd1100

      Well, I would like to have met Ava and Lola,(based on your excellent descriptive talent), twenty years ago myself. Maybe thirty years ago.

      You’re a gifted stroy teller, Kerry. I look forward to what you’ll come up with next…

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Frank. The minute my fingers typed Ava, I started on a roll, as anyone woukd have if they read Ava Gardner’s biography. The mysterious Lola, I’ve written two stories about , is the band canary from the Peter Gunn TV series, [Lola Albright]. Insane would have been a better word to use then gifted. But thank you anyway.

  61. Reaper

    Wrapped Up in Red

    The worst part of being a bass player is nobody knows who you are. The best part of being a bass player is that nobody knows who you are. In the most popular bands on earth the bass player is an unknown head bopper that stands on stage doing something the audience doesn’t understand. In truth what we do, what I do, is keep the rest of the band on beat. There are those exceptions where the bass player is so innovative that they become known in spite of themselves. More often the well known ones are those weirdos that play bass and sing lead or something like that. I can tell you as a bass player that the conversation when you’re recognized goes something like this. It starts with some greasy fellow stepping in front of you on the street.

    “Hey! I know you!” This fellow intones. The excitement is all in his voice because he’s about as chill as you are.

    “You do huh?” You respond with a studied withdrawal.

    “Yeah, man, you’re Ian Mac. You play bass for the Sequin Stones.”

    “I do.” You’re shocked but you only show it with a lift of the brows. “How do you know that?”

    “I play bass.” He says, his chest swelling with pride.

    That’s it. Most of the time. Every once in a blue moon you meet one of those nasty girls that is into bass players. Normally because they have so little self esteem that they think they can only get the member of the band nobody cares about. I know this day and age most beautiful women have those same issues, but in the case of a chick willing to bang a bass player they tend to be right about who they can get.

    That’s what I thought Sandy was, except she was gorgeous. I thought I had stumbled into heaven.

    Me and the boys were touring around the middle of the country. We used the take to get to the next town, leaving no money for motels. Four stinky guys sleeping in a van isn’t much fun. So I was happy for a better offer.

    I met Sandy after the show in a small town east of Omaha, Nebraska. She was drunk and all over me. When she said she would take me home I assumed it was to spend the night making her scream. When we got there she pointed me to a lumpy red couch and informed me she was married. I’ve slept in worse places.

    When I woke up in the morning there was a large man spooning me. It seemed the man had stumbled in drunk and thinking I was his wife had cuddled up behind me. We laughed off the mistake and I thought nothing more of it. Until the pictures surfaced in the tabloids.

    The worst part about being in a country band is how quickly the fans turn on you when you’re outted as gay. Even when you’re not.

    1. Observer Tim

      Owww! Now that is very definitely a night the MC will remember – even after therapy.

      Well, at least the main character can probably find a job playing bass in quite a few rock or punk bands. They (usually) don’t care if you’re gay; in some cases it’s a bonus. Hope he’s adaptable. Musically, that is. ;)

      1. Kerry Charlton

        My story is posted above yours. I hadn’t read yours before posting. It looks like we’re on the same sync. However I had more fun in mine than you did, Nah Nah! Seriously, I like your writing syle, lifelike, crisp and colorful. And as Don says,……’ I enjoyed the hell out of this.’

    2. don potter

      Loved your description of the bass man and how people treat him Nice to see they don’t always end up with what’s left. Sandy sounded like the MC’s dream come true. Didn’t see the end coming. Great job.

    3. snuzcook

      Your set up in this story was fantastic. I love to learn something insightful about the MC and about fundamental truths about the way the world works. Your story does this several times over.
      Made me cringe with the last line. But my take is that a bass player is grounded, if nothing else, so life will go on.

    4. calicocat88

      Before I forget to say something, the ending had me gasping all over the place. Loved it! You had me right away with the intro because it’s so true! You talk about so-and-so the bass player and people stare at you with cow-like faces. Personally, I feel that the bass is drums with strings. Two words, my friend: Getty Lee. Great story, lol!

    5. frankd1100

      A uniquely creative treatment of this prompt. In a short space it breaches seemingly unrelated concepts and ties them neatlytogether at the end. It feels like you let the story take you in its peculiar direction… I like this one.

  62. don potter

    Finishing my last set of the evening at one of the endless string of bars I performed in over a long summer’s musical tour, I sat down with a cold Coors to relax.

    Iowa was going through a record-setting heat wave, so I was less than thrilled about sleeping in my van again that night. With the windows up it’s like sleeping in a sauna; and with them down the mosquitoes attack until morning.

    I was just about to leave and face the torturous hours awaiting me when a pretty local girl slid a chair away from the table and joined me.

    “Loved your music,” she said. “Did you write all the songs?”

    “Most of them,” I replied, fascinated by the ease in which she turned my negative thoughts about the evening into a conversation that appeared to be headed in a positive direction.

    “Where are you staying in town?”

    “My van is parked out back and offers me all the comforts of home. Are you a reporter for the local newspaper or what?”

    “Oh no. Just an interested fan,” she said.

    “Does my fan have a name?”

    “Jennifer, but you can call me Jen.”

    “Would you like something to drink, Jen?”

    “No thanks. I already had enough. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had the courage to come over and talk with you.”

    “Well, you must have had the right amount, ‘cause you’re doing just fine as far as I’m concerned.”

    She laughed in a shy demure way, which was childishly sexy.

    “Want to come home to my house and sleep? We have air conditioning.”

    I went from aroused to disappointed. A roll in the hay, so to speak, was an attractive notion until the word ‘we’ was used. So I clumsily asked, “You have a roommate?”

    “I live with my father. He’s a minister.”

    “Then I’ll have to pass on your invite.”

    “I wasn’t suggesting what you thought. There’s a couch in the living room. I’ll be sleeping upstairs in my own little bed. Daddy always welcomes travelers to spend the night with us.”

    “Sold,” I said, and we walked to her car.

    After a drive along a winding road, we stopped at a secluded farm house. Once inside Jen suggested I might enjoy a shower while she prepared a late night snack. I savored the feel of the soothing hot water for as long as I could. After drying off, I slipped into the monk-like robe she provided.

    When I asked what happened to my clothes, Jen cheerfully informed me they were in need of washing. There was no way I could argue with that. So I finished the scrambled eggs and washed them down with a second cup of some kind of herbal tea.

    The next thing I remember was waking up in a strange room, with no windows and a locked door. The aroma of incense filled the chilled air. On the table next to the bed were several pieces of literature about the ‘Sacrificial Temple of the Children of Satan’ with Jen and her father identified as the founders.

    1. Observer Tim

      Very clever, Don. As I was reading, I was wondering how you were going to paint a predicament with so little space left. You managed to totally turn the MC’s evening around in a single paragraph. Excellent job, and a wonderful read!

    2. seliz

      This was nicely written. I liked the contrast from the line with the herbal tea to the line about the incense filled, chilled air. All of the comforting images that herbal tea conjures were instantly gone. Nice job.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You hit me like a brick in the middle of my forehad. Now I have a headache from your great story. A week off from writing a prompt and you come back like a roaring freight train. Great story Don.

    3. snuzcook

      Great dialog, Don. You got me sympathetic to the MC, even though he stepped right into that gigantic metaphoric spider’s web. I fear your story is the last we will hear of him.

    4. calicocat88

      Oh, my gosh–Don, the ending had me screaming! The whole time reading the story I was like “Okay, things are going too well for this guy…what’s the catch?” And then you nailed it with the ending. I don’t know about anybody else, but this particular prompt has birthed a litter of really unique and terrifyingly entertaining stories.

  63. Observer Tim

    I’m not all that sure where the farm was; I was doing the Good Samaritan thing and dropping off a couple of farm kids on my way from Brooks to Drumheller, so I guess it’s along that road. While we were driving the sky opened up and visibility dropped to just shy of zero. Greta and Marlene, the two kids, offered to let me stay the night at the farmhouse, where I could sleep on the couch in the living room. That was the first warning sign I missed.

    It was another hour of driving on something as much river as road to get to the place; the lights were all off. Greta explained that mama, papa and Gunther were down in Lethbridge and probably wouldn’t chance driving home in this weather. Which meant we we’d be all alone for the night. That was the second sign.

    Marlene lit a lantern, explaining as she did that the house didn’t have electricity, and that they were in a cellular dead zone. That’s why the girls had hitched a ride down to Brooks for the show; with no power, no TV, and no phone, there wasn’t much for two 18-year olds to do. The alarms were going full blare by then, but I wasn’t listening.

    If this sounds like a raunchy story to you, well it did to me too. But the girls just wanted me to sing for them. I went through my entire repertoire, then faked it for a few country classics, and they just ate it up. It was after eleven when Marlene started tousling my hair and Greta stripped down. Before I knew what was happening, Greta was all over me and Marlene was getting warmed up. Aside from the lack of sleep, this night was looking pretty good from my point of view.

    About two o’clock the clouds finally broke up and the pale moonlight shone in the window. I was pretty tuckered and the girls were cuddled up to me, and then it happened. Greta stretched and grew a tail. Marlene started getting all hairy and developed a wolf-snout.

    Now I’m more open-minded than most, but there’s something about being torn apart by werewolves that just doesn’t sit right with me. I started to jump up, but Greta grabbed something in her teeth that I didn’t really want bit off. So instead I stayed there.

    Turns out they just wanted to play some more, and by morning when the moon went down and they turned back I was still alive, though plenty scratched up. The girls apologized and tended my wounds; they even made breakfast and give me a snack for the road. It was a pretty scary night, but I guess all’s well that ends well.

    Now, the reason I told you all this is I’m gonna have to cancel my gigs on the 17th and 18th: those are the two nights of the full moon this month, right? Fraid I won’t really be myself.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Right on cue, Tim. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded the girls coming back. There are leather collars and chainsyou could use to keep them in tow Glad all your parts are still together. Farm girls and farmers daughters are dangerous.You oughta know! Really enjoyed your tale Got a real kick when they turned nasty. Great job.

    1. snuzcook

      Great story, O.Tim! Good suspense, good characterization of the MC following all his instincts but the ones he should have. Loved the line about what he didn’t want bitten off, and was greatly relieved when he survived the night, albeit with the ultimate VD.

    2. calicocat88

      Yes! Tim, I was definitely not expecting this ending! My favorite line had to be “…something about being torn apart by werewolves that just doesn’t sit right with me.” Ha! Ha! I’ll be chuckling about that all day. I like how at first you made the reader think back and forth about the girls. One minute we’re thinking they’re all naughty, then the next their sweet and innocent, and the end they’re back to being naughty, lol! Great job and love the MC’s voice in this.

    3. frankd1100

      What strikes me is that we’ve all been in situations where warning bells go off and we ignore them. So far with less dramatic consequence than the hero in your story, OT.

      I like the use of local dialect. The style of the guy telling the story leaves an image of the setting, where the events took place. Good example of showing rather than telling….

  64. MichelleGrybs

    Last night’s gig was crazy. The club was small and the tour was almost over. Two more cities to go then I can rest for a week or two. What town am I in? Oh good grief who’s couch am I on. The fog started to lift too many shots of rum. I remember now, that sweet guy with the funky t-shirt, where is he? I tried to get up and found that my feet were cuffed to the couch. What the hell? Panic set in, remember the guy’s name, what is his name?? Christ almighty I broke my own rule and now I have no idea where I am or who I’m with and where is my cell phone I could call my ex he lives near here as long as I’m still in Florida. I could call the cops but would they believe me? As a struggling musician, sleeping in my van save me lots of money so when this guy offered me the couch I took it for a change and I broke my cardinal rule. No strange places off main roads and definitely no sleeping with strangers.
    My bladder was full and I needed to go, I yelled I need to pee and he came to the room looked at me and smiled only it was not very welcoming, I said again I need to use the bathroom please. Still not remembering his name I decided to ask. I hoped he would un-cuff me so I could get up and get the hell out of here. Trying to be as sweet as pie, what is your name, I drank far too much last night and I can’t remember. You can remember because there was more than rum in your drink love. Who? Why? In good time love in good time. Now give me your hand which he promptly cuffed to his, then he un-cuffed my feet from the couch How was I going to get out of here and away from this whack job? Breathe first things first. I would have to use the bathroom with this guy attached to me unless..

  65. rboydstun

    Sleeping in the back of my van gives me a backache, but it’s all I’ve got. So I was thrilled when a girl in Half Moon Bay invited me to stay with her for the night–strictly platonic, I’d be on the couch. Maybe I could get one night’s decent sleep on this tour.

    We drove from the club through a tangle of coastal roads to an old Victorian house that sat nearly on the water. The octagonal turrets and intricate scroll-work showed a care of construction you don’t see anymore, which stood in stark contrast to the peeling paint and splintered molding.

    Mary seemed nice. She explained how she inherited the house and had not yet restored it to its proper glory. She invited me in, and I entered a frozen vortex of swirled fabric. Everything was covered with thin, white, cotton cloths. A thick layer of dust rested atop all but one of them. It was in the center of the room, between the fireplace and the couch.

    “Sorry about the dust,” Mary said, dropping a pile of folded blankets on the couch. “This is clean. I use it myself.”

    “Thanks, I really appreciate it,” I said, spreading the blankets into makeshift bedding. The couch was old but well kept, and it felt comfy.

    Mary said good night and disappeared up the winding staircase.

    To make sure I stay on schedule I carry a little travel alarm with me. Usually it sits next to my head, but there were no side tables here. I set it on top of the clean sheet next to the couch and sunk back into the cushions.

    My eyelids were drooping when I glanced over and noticed tiny toes protruding from under the sheet. I leaned over and lifted the sheet to reveal a little leg. Miniature bare feet sprouted from an intricate lace dress. When I lifted it yet further, the sheet slipped sideways uncovering thirteen ceramic dolls sitting in a perfect row. Every one of their faces were covered by small cardboard cutouts with my picture on them. Dozens of my own pixelated eyes stared back at me like an audience of corpses.

    Tripping over the couch I fell hard onto the dusty wooden floor. There was movement across the dimly lit room. Someone’s pink toes were wiggling in the distance. I followed them up and settled my gaze on Mary’s face. Her dark eyes glared at me. She was biting the nails on her twitchy left hand while a Cheshire cat grin slowly spread across her cheeks, her teeth gleaming bluish-white in the moonlight.

    I grabbed my bag and burst through the door. My hands were shaking. I could barely get the key in the slot. Unlocked the door. Got in. Flipped the ignition. Slammed on the gas, leaving a cloud of dust behind me.

    As I drove I realized I had forgotten my alarm clock. Checking the rearview mirror, I mumbled to myself, “Nevermind, I’ll buy a new one.”

    1. seliz

      I like this creepy tale. There’s something about dolls staring that is just creepy to begin with, but when you add the picture’s of the MC on them, and then Mary’s Cheshire cat grin–well, it just doesn’t get creepier then that. Good job.

    2. snuzcook

      Well done, rboydstun! The elements you used to elicit goosebumps were perfect–dolls, toes, child-like behavior all insanely out of place. Perfect recipe for the macabre.

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