Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 40

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Week 40!

This is a flash fiction challenge.  The prompt is a song.  You are not required to write about or even mention the song.  It’s there only to get the ideas moving around in your brain pan.  If you want to write about the song (or the video- it’s all good here) go for it but don’t feel like you have to.

The rules;

500 words, but it’s a slushy 500, meaning you can go up to 700 or as low as 300.

Post your entry right in the comments section of this post.

MAKE SURE TO PUT YOUR TWITTER HANDLE NEXT TO YOUR WORD COUNT AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POST.  IF YOU’RE NOT ON TWITTER GIVE ME AN EMAIL ADDRESS OR SOME OTHER WAY TO GET A HOLD OF YOU!

The challenge starts whenever I post this on Tuesday and ends at 4:30PM Pacific Time on Friday.  You read that right.  Pacific Time.

This week’s tune comes to us from those quirky purveyors of, “desert noir,” Calexico.

The tune is… “The Ballad of Cable”. Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/w89r74jAG30

This week’s Judge steps into the chair fresh off of last week’s big win… Nick Johns!

The challenge begins at the moment you read this post and runs until 4:30PM PACIFIC time on Friday December 20th.

Now go write!!!!!!

 

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Posted on December 17, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Folly of the Follower
    405 words
    @CharlesWShort

    Our mom had a fondness for unusual names. And a long list of live-in boyfriends. That was how I ended up with the name Cable Steele and my older brother ended up with the name Hogue Ward.

    We took a lot of ribbin’ over it in school. The whole thing kind of turned Hogue mean. He got himself thrown out of school and then into juvie. After that it was straight downhill. As his younger brother, I kinda’ felt obligated to follow along.

    We graduated out of the hall without serious enough of a charge to go to adult pokey, and mom didn’t want us back, so we landed on the street. No real skills, but a wicked imagination.

    One day Hogue recruited me for a bank robbery. I declined, but then he said, “Whatsa matter, you think you’re gonna live forever?”

    I hate it when he talks that way. Always talks me into something stupid. All it really means is he values my life less than I do. But, you know, he is my older brother.

    The whole job went pretty clean. We left the bank with a wad a cash and never fired a shot. Jumped in a classic old stolen convertible and drove away as fast as we could.

    Not faster than the bullet fired by the guard though. I dumped Hogue’s dead body out and took off on my own. I would have to find my own trouble from then on.

    Like an idiot I snuck over the border with Mexico going the wrong way, but with law behind me I figured it was my best hope. Find a small town, impress them with American dollars and maybe live out my life on a hacienda somewhere.

    I picked a place called Rio Nuevo. Had a flea bag hotel and a little diner across the way. Second day I met the proprietor of the dive. Her name was Aliana. Pretty as a flower. Bitter as sea water.

    We talked a lot that week and then she asked me to go into business with her, not the diner. That was a front for another business. The kind the cartels considered unwanted competition.

    I declined but then she said, “Why not so, gringo? Do you think you are going to live forever?”

    A horrible sinking feeling invaded my gut. Felt like coming home. And, you know, I wouldn’t have to find my own trouble anymore.

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  2. As the song finished playing, she belted out, “Thank God that’s over!”

    I had to laugh. Her remark was so like her. “I take it you did not like the music?”

    Ever had pretty blue eyes drill holes through you? I swear that’s what hers did to me. “You know damn well I don’t like that type of music.”

    To be honest, I knew she didn’t like any type of music other than the few artists she listened to. And I wasn’t sure if artists was the right word. “You don’t like much of anything.”

    She gave me this little “Hm!” as she turned her nose, and looked anywhere else.

    “No! It’s true! You don’t like much of anything.” I wasn’t really trying to pick a fight. But I didn’t see any way to avoid one.

    She punched the station 1 button on the car radio, tuning it back to her radio station. Beyonce’s voice filled the car. I think it was “Single Ladies”. Again. She sang right along with it. “All the single ladies…”

    Every hear that saying, “Put up or shut up”? That’s the option I had on this. Sit there, silently, not daring to say a word, or sing along with her.

    That’s why I was leaving her.

    “You know, you’re boring.” Well, she was.

    “I’m not boring!”

    “You listen to the same, what, ten songs, over and over again.”

    “I do not!”

    “You watch the same TV shows every week.”

    “I do not!”

    “You eat at the same five restaurants every week.”

    “No, I don’t!”

    “You shop at the same three stores. You never, ever read a book of any kind. You own everything Apple ever made.”

    She laughed. “I do what makes me happy!”

    It was time for the fight. “You do what makes you safe, and comfortable.”

    “So?”

    I knew she’d have no idea what I was trying to say. How do you tell someone they live in a box, and to them, nothing outside that box exists? I punched the “tune” button, and set the radio to a random station again. I almost laughed. The station was playing a Calexico tune. And I knew she’d hate it.

    “Hell, they aren’t even singing!”

    “They’re singing.” I laughed, spitefully. “You just have too narrow a mind to see it, or hear it.” Oh, hell, you should have seen the look she gave me. “They’re just different. And that scares you.”

    I kept driving, and started singing along with the song. “I should’ve stayed way out yonder better off with the scorpions and snakes.” Yeah. I should have.

    She huffed and looked out the window. And didn’t say a single word until I pulled up to the curb by her apartment. “Don’t call me anymore,” she declared, spitefully I might add, as she opened the door.

    “Don’t worry, darlin’. I won’t. It’d be a waste of time.”

    As least the window didn’t shatter when she slammed the door.

    490 words
    @LurchMunster

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  3. Fool’s Gold
    675 Words
    @BryantheTinker

    The harsh light of the sun in my eyes split into a rainbow as it passed through a bead of sweat just before the drop dripped into the dirt. Lying there, unable to move, I watched the crimson flow of my life spread into the street, sending a scorpion skittering away from the new obstacle. In those moments, while a Mexican band still plays in the cantina, it’s painfully clear that this trip to town was a very bad idea.

    I live way out in the hills, far from people, working a small gold mine. It’s not a huge claim, but it provides much more than a simple man like me needs. Every now and again, the coyotes convince me to bag up some of the gold and bring it to town for food and supplies. It never goes well. People keep trying to find out where my claim is, some subtle, and some not so subtle. Circling town to come in from a different direction each time gets to be tedious, as does the false goodwill. In truth, I vastly prefer the snakes that I have in the wilderness. At least they’re honest with their intentions.

    This trip, though, I saw her on the street. As our eyes met, I knew she was going to be trouble, and also that I’d be along for the ride, no matter where it went. The fire in her eyes broke through the stone of my heart and took the breath from my lungs, and when she smiled at me, it was as if lightning had struck. Her black dress swirled provocatively as she turned to go into one of the stores, looking back at me and twirling her parasol.

    Instead of hustling out of town as normal, I stirred up a zephyr of whispers when I went to the inn for a room and a bath. Actually two baths, as there was so much sand and dirt that the first bath quickly became more mud than water. When I went into the cantina later, people stared, not recognizing the clean and shaven stranger. Soon enough, recognition set in, and the normal routine started.

    She walked in a little later, striding straight to me without ever looking to the side. She grabbed me by the shirt as she drew close and kissed me deeply. The crowd stopped right in their tracks, they were so surprised. Her fingers traced down my arm and she gently pulled me up and out of my seat, leading me toward the door. My mind whirling from the whisky and the woman, I followed without a thought. Once outside on the street, she led me into the alley where she turned and ran her hands up and down me. My surprise by this point had worn off, and I eagerly returned her affections. After a kiss to my neck, she leaned up and whispered in my ear “Cable…tell me where your claim is.”

    I wasn’t sure I heard her right. “Hmm?” I mumbled, still lost in bliss.

    “Tell me where your claim is, please. See, I need a good strike.”

    Just like that, the dream ended as abruptly as a swim in an icy river. “Lady, that was downright rude.” I turned to walk away and made it a few steps before I heard a familiar click.
    I turned around, and there she was, pointing my own gun at me, cocked and ready. Just to check, as things were happening faster than my mind was following, I gently felt my holster. It was indeed as hollow as the pit in my stomach.

    “Last chance. Tell me where your claim is.” Her voice was no longer sultry, becoming as hard as iron.

    My number was up, her eyes were clear as the blue sky. I just shook my head, sadly. The alley thundered with the pistol shot, and the bullet passed through my chest, a burning pain just before my legs became too weak to hold me up.

    I should have stayed out of town.

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  4. Spill the Beans

    Ten days after the heist and the atmosphere in the cave, high in the barren mountains, was getting a bit much, even for Cable Hogue and his band of hardy comrades. The daily – and nightly – beans were taking their inevitable toll.

    Tonight though would be their last evening together as the legendary Cable was retiring from all his dodgy deeds and deals. Running away from all this nastiness with his perfect French love – he had the gold, she had his heart. The plan was in place, he’d be there at midnight and then they’d be off.

    He sucked back on the last of the beans from the pan and released a burp which slowly resonated through the heavy cave atmosphere.

    ‘So, make sure you get off tonight too,’ Cable said.

    Hogan looked at him from underneath his grubby hat, ‘Yup, how many times do you have to ask. Our plans are sure and we’ll not be meeting with you again.’

    ‘Yeah well,’ Cable nodded, ‘I’m sure that is so too. Won’t say it’s been fun, but we’ve had our moments.’

    Cable patted the rammed bag full of his spoils and felt he’d need to give some extra rations to his horse this week.

    Out of the corner of his eye he saw some movement at the cave entrance and he turned ninety degrees to it, then stopped still. A slight noise and he sensed something move in the dim moonlight. He drew and fired a single shot in one smooth move.

    ‘One more dead rattler Hogan,’ he nodded towards him, ‘Take it for your vittels tomorrow and don’t let McFarley take it off yer.’

    Five years of comradeship and so many scrapes and that was the extent of their farewell. He’d miss the gang, even the moderately trustworthy Hogan, but the buxom charms of Adrienne had some definite attractions and they were clearly made for each other.

    Adrienne and her buxom charms were waiting for him someway down the narrow gorge. Unfortunately for Cable she was there with her long term partner and a gaggle of ex-lovers, each keen to get their part of Cable’s gold and the reward for his capture – his dead body would do. He never saw it coming.

    (373 words)
    @zevonesque

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  5. NUGGETS

    Nothing good ever comes of those three little words: hold my gold.

    Juan Carlos says it’s easier than taking nuggets off a chicken but I don’t know anything about livestock. Silks, linens, and lipstick are my stock and trade. Only I make my money much differently than most folks think.

    I can fleece a man faster than he can get out of his boots. Man is in such a hurry to get his hands on your goods he don’t pay much attention to his own. Easy to slide that gold pocket-watch out of his vest, that deed to his gold mine out of his hip pocket, and those payday gold nuggets out of his boot toe.

    I keep half for myself and give the other to Juan Carlos. He’s the only man I trust now that the banditos have papa. Isn’t much to look at but he has skills where it counts the most. Behind a shotgun and between the sheets.

    We been building a militia of sorts. Going to go after the papa. Going to go through the banditos, the desert, and whatever else stands in our way to get to him, too. I don’t need papa any more now that I have Juan Carlos but I do have some things to say to him, a score or two to settle.

    I’ll probably start with thanking him for teaching me how to take care of myself, how to read the poor intentions of others, and how to ply my feminine wiles to protect my assets. Right after that, I’m going to curse him for those same things.

    If he’d been any kind of father, I’d never have known anything about garter belts and lambskin. Not while still in my teens anyway. Maybe he didn’t want to be a family man. Or maybe he only liked my mama well enough to knock her up. But if practiced what he preached about lambskin, we wouldn’t be staring each other down across a rattlesnake riddled patch of sand.

    Men think that because I wear my painted on smile so well that I must like the catcalls, the groping, the propositions. Truth is, I like it only in so far as it allows me to get the one thing men have that gratifies me: money.

    Nah, nothing good ever comes of those three little words, hold my gold. Not if it’s me you’re asking.

    – – – – –
    401 words / @bullishink

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  6. When….

    Elena’s woolen mittens were crusted with the fresh, heavy snow of the snowman she and Justin were building together between snowballs and easy laughter.

    Their first date was moving along nicely. Playful to deep to flirtatious dinner conversation fueled by a bit too much wine required a cooling off period. The full moon lent a diamond crusted shimmer to their midnight stroll through the park, a fresh coating of snow too irresistible to leave undisturbed.

    From the corner of her eye, Elena saw an old woman plodding toward them. Her outstretched hands were wrapped in tattered rags. Gnarled fingers, exposed to the elements, bore filth under torn nails. Elena fought the urge to recoil.

    She handed Elena something; clutched at Justin’s coat sleeve and pulled him near. Her deep-set eyes couldn’t be avoided. Drew them in. Commanded them to listen. Bore into Elena’s green ones.

    “You will have a fine son amidst a cold, long winter.” Her thick accent was unmistakable, but her words were nonetheless clear.

    Elena looked shyly at Justin, giggled and shrugged. She dropped the rock, unexamined, in her pocket and removed her mittens.

    “They’re a little wet right now, but they’ll be warm once they dry. Here, please take them.”

    The woman pushed between them, continued on her path, the mittens still heavy in Elena’s hands.

    She and Justin looked at each other. Giggled. Shrugged. Looked away. Elena shivered.

    “You’re cold. Let’s go back to my place. I’ll build a fire, make us some hot chocolate.”

    “That sounds great.”

    Elena, snuggled under Justin’s protective arm, glanced after the old woman. Not even a footprint remained of her visit. She didn’t say a word to Justin, and they never spoke of it again.

    It was their first of many fires, their first tentative, then hungry kisses, their first of many winters.

    A Christmas wedding preceded five long winters of waiting. The deep green marble egg the old woman had handed Elena held a place of importance on their mantle—held space in Elena’s heart and hopes. Each season a snowman graced their lawn. Elena would stand at the kitchen window each morning, warming her hands around her mug of tea, absently dreaming of when…thinking, by now, when would never come.

    It was just such a Christmas morning. Elena was busy in the kitchen, preparing their anniversary breakfast of baked French toast, rich pressed coffee and mimosas, when Justin called out in alarm from the living room. Elena rushed to his side where he stood back from the firebox, speechless, pointing.

    There, in the fire grate, cradled in soft pine boughs, lie a sleeping infant—a boy. Her eyes flew to the mantle. The egg was gone.

    Elena sighed. “There you are.”

    She gathered her son in her arms and wrapped him tenderly in the thick afghan from the back of their sofa. She kissed his pursed bowtie lips, and felt her breasts fill with rich milk for him.

    She carried their son out to the snowman, Justin following behind, stammering, still stunned. She carefully replaced the absent pine bough arms with those that had cradled her son in the firebox. She rocked the baby and told him and his daddy the story of their first date, of the forgotten item she’d later found in her coat pocket, and of the old woman who told them when he would come.

    –KimJGaneWCPosse (562–from Rebekah’s prompt today over @FlashFridayFic because this was the story it inspired. Glad to be here!)

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  7. Gold Dust
    @BrewedBohemian
    687 words

    Angie blew out the candle and poured the wax into the metal bowl in front of her crossed legs. She added a pen she’d borrowed from Todd this morning in Chemistry and threw in a sprig of rosemary. She drizzled in the olive oil, then closed her eyes and recited the words Aunt Mary had given her over the phone. The remaining candles in Angie’s room wavered and the light in her closet flickered as she said the last few syllables.

    That should do it, she thought. Angie opened her eyes and surveyed her room. Nothing looked different; how was she supposed to know if the spell had worked? Her cell phone buzzed from her back pocket. Angie sighed and pulled it out. She smiled as she read the text.

    Hey Ang – Todd here. Busy?

    Angie tapped out a reply, her heart pounding like a hammer in her chest.

    A bit, what’s up?

    Wanna meet up for coffee? My treat…

    Sure. W&W?

    30 min. STBK @ 5th/Carnie

    Cool. C U soon

    Cool.

    Angie jumped up and flipped on her bedroom light. She squealed audibly as she flung open the closet. The spell had worked! Now all she had to do was get invited back to his house. She pulled on a mini skirt and a v-neck sweater that hugged all the right curves. She was pretty sure Todd liked girls with a good sense of humor, but a snug outfit couldn’t hurt her chances.

    “Mom, I’m going out!” She yelled over her shoulder as she slammed the door. She bounded down the steps and into her car, excitement trilling through her veins. She was so close; so close to what she really wanted. She slammed down on the accelerator and sped off toward the Starbucks at 5th and Carnie.

    Todd was already there when she arrived. He was sitting alone in the back, sipping a mocha and looking a little confused. Angie called out and waved before heading to the counter to order her drink. Todd smiled wide and rushed over to her, his drink forgotten and his table abandoned.

    “You came,” he said breathlessly.

    “Of course,” she smiled. “You’re paying.”

    “Oh. Oh yeah! I am. What are you having?” he asked.

    “A non-fat mocha with no whipped cream,” she replied.

    “Oh. Great choice,” he beamed.

    Angie smiled and walked to his table, marveling at her new found power. An hour later, she was sitting once again on a bedroom floor. This time, Todd sat across from her smiling like a goofball. He handed her a small velvet pouch.

    “Is this it?” she asked.

    “My entire stash,” he said proudly.

    Angie opened the bag and her jaw dropped in awe at the glittering dust within. Golden fairie dust. As far as she knew, Todd was the only person for a hundred miles to possess fairie dust. Now she was the only person for a hundred miles to possess such a rarity. Angie closed the bag and looked up at the love struck boy in front of her. She almost felt bad for what she was about to do. Almost.

    “I have to go,” she said as she stood and headed toward the door.

    “Already?” Todd scrambled after her. “Will I see you tomorrow?”

    “Sure,” she said halfheartedly. Todd smiled as he walked her to her car.

    “Thanks again,” Angie said as she pulled open the car door.

    “Oh, sure. Any time! Any time at all,” Todd replied.

    Angie drove off, shaking her head in disbelief. That was one powerful spell. She looked into her rearview mirror and saw Todd standing in the middle of the road waving at her tail lights. Poor dork, she thought.

    Twenty minutes later she was at the park on the swings when a dark figure appeared from the trees.

    “Peter!” Angie beamed.

    “Do you have it?” the boy asked.

    “His entire stash,” she replied. She handed the pouch to the boy without hesitation.

    “Cool. I have to go.” The boy took off toward the slides.

    “Already? Will I see you tomorrow?” Angie scrambled after him.

    “Sure,” Peter said halfheartedly.

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  8. Rebekah Postupak

    MANUAL LABOR

    “You work here?”

    “I own the place.” She scowled and spit loudly, like the manual had said to. The spit landed with a delicate splat on the floor near her feet. She ignored this; the book said it could take some time before spit figured out where it was supposed to go and not to worry, unless of course it was a spitting contest and the loser got hanged, in which case apologies, and please submit the form at the back of the book to the Corporate Office in Chicago, where a refund would be seriously considered.

    “Gimme a drink.” His scowl was a lot better than hers—more genuine, she thought—and accompanied by his stamping a few suspicious brown clumps off a boot. Ohh, that was good. She’d have to remember that.

    “Yeah? What?”

    “The stiffest you got.”

    She nodded in acknowledgement. The manual said anything in a bottle could be legally called stiff, but “stiffest you got” meant only one thing: one quarter whiskey, one quarter turpentine, one quarter cayenne pepper, and blow them a kiss and nobody would notice a quarter was missing. The turpentine was easy—there was a whole case in the back, next to a sketchy looking jar labeled “Don’t Touch Unless You Wish To Die, Yes, Even You, Sideways Sam You Idjit”—and the cayenne had arrived in a jaunty yellow box on last week’s train. But the kiss….

    The man on the other side of the bar was still scowling. He had finished stamping his feet, though, as evidenced by the three small steaming piles of If You Have to Ask You Probably Don’t Want to Know.

    “You getting my drink, or what?” He sounded angry and thirsty at the same time.

    She tried copying him, making her voice as gravelly as possible. “Yeah. Hold your horses.” Her voice came out more petulant than mad. She filed this away for practice later.

    He stretched and yawned like he didn’t care. She noticed he made sure she saw him flash the two guns on the inside of his jacket.

    “Take your time, woman,” he said easily. “I already done my killing today.”

    The squeak escaped before she could stop it. Unfortunately, the manual said this was at the top of the no-nos. No crying (save as a last resort before being hanged), no literary allusions, no talk of women’s business, and above all, no squeaking.

    “You sure you still got drinks back there?” asked the man. His voice had gotten softer now, almost pleasant. He suddenly reminded her of one of those big bright garden spiders back home, just before it ate a bug.

    She scurried. Whiskey (or whatever). Turpentine. Cayenne. The liquid burbled brown and gold, reminding her of things on her own no-no list. Deep breath now: the manual said for best effect, the glass needed to be slid all the way down the bar.

    The man watched her walk carefully to the other end of the bar and set the glass down. She frowned. What if he didn’t know he was supposed to catch it? Ech. Teamwork WAS harder, just like Mama always said. Well, nothing left but to try; time was running out. Shoving the glass, she smacked her lips (would that count as a kiss?) and batted eyelashes furiously.

    In the end she needn’t have worried about his catching the glass, because it caught on a nail a third of the way down and tumped over. The man leapt to his feet in fury, eyes blazing, reaching for his guns.

    She squawked this time, and in a panic dove for the Don’t Touch jar, flinging it at his head.

    Both jar and head exploded on contact.

    She gaped for a moment. The manual said this could happen and not to stress; saloon floors were designed for easy mopping.

    The manual said regular mopping is good for one’s constitution.

    The manual said mopping is also good for one’s reputation.

    The manual said—

    “I’m burning the manual,” she said, slamming a new glass on the bar.

    This time, her scowl was totally sincere.

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  9. Reblogged this on Kim Jorgensen Gane and commented:
    My piece of flash, “When…,” is shared here. I hope it acts as a sort of visualization for hope for those dealing with infertility during the particularly difficult holiday season. GANEPossible.com

    Like

  1. Pingback: #MWBB 40 : The Ballad Of Cable Hogue | My Soul's Tears

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