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.”

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