Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 2.21

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Year 2, Week 21.

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.


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

This week’s song prompt is an obscure, but fantastic, tune by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.
The song is, “The Ballad of Robert Moore and Betty Coltrane”.

Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/wrjmcyaBYoY

This week’s Judge is the Mortuary Mama herself, Ruth Long!

The challenge opens the moment you read this post and runs through MIDNIGHT PACIFIC TIME on Friday September 26th.

Now… Go write!!!!


Posted on September 23, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. “The Ballad of Frogtown”

    Oh God, how he hated having to go to Frogtown, especially for an extraction. He wasn’t talking Paris, or Quebec City, or even Paris, Texas for that matter. The Frogtown in question was that little swamp-voodoo-passage shithole just east of Thibodeaux. He hated crossing realms, he hated anything occult, and he hated getting his feet wet.

    Most of all he hated chasing down a story that had already that had already made it’s way into the wind – it already sounded like fodder for a Dylan song. Or Leonard Cohen. Or. . .hell, whatshisname. . .Cole. . .Cale. . .something Cave? Oh hell, it didn’t matter, he didn’t like any of them – too many verses – and he knew a thing or two about too many verses.

    He started to whistle “The Rainbow Connection” as he stepped into the ratty little Amphib dive that once was called The Sacred Moon, but that was a long time ago – now the place didn’t actually have a name, only a rusty Regal Beer sign hanging over the front entrance.

    The doorman was leaning back on two legs – amazing, resilient legs – of a stool that threatened to drop his fat ass on the floor boards any second. Bulging eyes gave Milsap the once over as he stepped in; his notched tongue flicked, tasting the air that accompanied the human. He looked like a failed Dr. Moreau mash-up, wide mouth, sickly green tinge to his skin and faaaaaaaat – hard to imagine getting that fat on just a diet of flies.

    “Keep that tongue in your head, Boss. I’d hate you to lose it.”

    The tongue flicked twice more. “I don’t much like that tune,” he croaked.

    “I know,” Milsap answered.

    “I know of another song, Gator Man.” .

    The scales on Milsap’s left arm twitched, as he grabbed the doorman by the throat. The amphibian’s tongue shot across the bar like a party favor, slapping the juke. John Coltrane oozed from the old Rocket 88’s speaker.

    “Good choice,” Milsap said dropping the man-frog back onto the stool.

    It was forty-five years ago when he first stumbled into this dive, left arm gone at the elbow almost bleeding out – she was here then, the queen herself Marie Laveau – it was her magic (he never liked the word Voodoo) that saved his life and his arm, so to speak. He’d been chasing a big ol’ gator, had to have been sixteen feet if’n it was an inch. Somehow, he crossed over and the sum’bitch turned on him. Stood right up and took Milsap under, took his left arm and was gone. He somehow made it to the door of The Scared Moon before he passed out. As soon as his strength returned, Milsap left, with a new arm of alligator skin and a new career – he wasn’t just an alligator hunter anymore.

    He looked around the room, she wasn’t here – he hadn’t expected her to be, now that it was an Amphib bar. He supposed she had quality places to frequent, but tonight it wasn’t the queen he here for. He returned his left arm to its hiding place and turned to the bar. . . or shotgun, as it were, leveled by the bartender named Squatt. The better part of his face and been burnt off years ago by a pot of boiling corn water and his face looked redder than usual.

    “You ought not treat Scooter like that Amos,” Squatt said. Milsap walked to the bar and took the shotgun from Squatt’s hands. He laid across the tiles.

    “How many time’s I gotta tell you, Squatt. It’s just Milsap.” The red faded a bit from Squatt’s face. “I’m looking for a girl,” he added, sliding a Polaroid parallel to the shotgun barrel. “Her name’s Betty, Bette to her friends.”

    “A losin’ bet if you ask me.”

    “Nobody asked you,” Milsap said. “You seen her?”

    ‘Check table three.”

    Milsap turned to the row of cocktail tables. One. Two. Three. . .and flip. There, stuck in the gum on the underside was the same Polaroid and a Tarot – The Moon.
    Hmmmm, The Sacred Moon.

    The Coltrane ended and Milsap tossed a swamp dollar on the bar.

    697 Words



  2. Last man standing

    “Stupid men!” Her voice stays near her own ears in her hiding place. Small teeth worry a full

    lower lip. “They shouldn’t all be here?”

    The gun and knife charge the atmosphere with deadly purpose.

    A pugilist thumps his gloves in rapid succession under her ribs. She licks the red slash of

    her mouth, breathing hard. A salty trickle of sweat meanders down the curve of her throat

    into the depth of her silky cleavage.

    The first one falls.

    She moans and reaches forward an unheeded hand as a Spanish refrain echoes in her

    mind, the rich red pool of his blood triggering memories of hot roses and roaring bulls, the

    tango and black lace. She whispers his name like a prayer.

    The second one falls.

    A gasp slips past her lips as a mountain of flesh hits the floor, sending reverberations

    through the boards to her knees. His pale grey eyes meet hers under the table. Words of

    love with a dying breath etch in her heart. She closes a fist over her chest.

    Water fills her eyes and leaks over the lids onto her dark lashes where it pools in glistening

    drops until the weight pulls them down. Her shining hair slides over her face to shield her

    from the sight.

    Her head lifts pulled up like a fish on a hook. A roar of passion in the explosive retort of a

    gun assaults her ears. Shattered fragments burst the silver flash of steel in a hand so

    recently agile and tanned, now flaccid in the pools of beer and blood. She weeps for

    mermaids who will swim no more in rippling muscle and passions embrace.

    The third one falls.

    The last man standing turns her way. In his love words lies a future of outraged pride

    sending tendrils of iron to trap her. She feels the weight in her pocket and slides her

    trembling hand over the stock. Her slender finger curls over the trigger. He crumples. She

    crawls toward his dying roar. Swift and merciful she ends the noise and dusts off her skirts

    as she stands blowing gently across the hot dark hole of her gun. Blue grey tendrils writhe

    around her face.

    She coils a lock of his wayward hair behind his cooling ear. A sigh seeps up from deep in

    her lungs, lifting her shoulders and letting them down.

    She transfers a damp kiss from her fingertip to his nose before sliding his bill fold from his

    waistcoat. Paper crinkles overloud in the silence. Her slippered feet move softly from man to

    man, nimble fingers divest them of their worldly wealth. Four rings of plain gold slide from

    stiffening fingers and into her pocket next to the still warm barrel.

    She glances at the barman turned statue and tilts her head a little. A thoughtful fingertip

    curls over her ruby lips anchored with a thumb on her chin. She peers at him from under

    her brow and blinks slowly.

    Her husky voice holds a siren note and she smiles. “I do dislike leaving such a mess. I am

    so sorry. Perhaps this will help.” She casually flicks a coin into the air watching the arc of its

    spin. She throws the coin on the table. With a wink across her shapely shoulder she steps

    across to the door hesitating for only a moment to say a benediction.

    “I knew it was too good to last.”

    Wc 572 @cc_lark


  3. My Eyes; My Mai Tai

    The rattling wind slashed into my eyes. They watered and in doing so, made my nose run. I reached into my pocket and took out my large handkerchief. I raised it to my face. That bloody rattling wind whipped the edge of it against the point of my nose and splashed, yes, bloody splashed, my nasal extrusions across my cheeks and flipped a drop right into my eye.

    Of course, this exacerbated the aggravation that my poor eyes were already experiencing.

    Of course, this resulted in almost total blindness.

    Of course, this caused a waterfall, a positive torrent, of tears to stream down my face.

    Of course, this additional liquid helped to dissolve the nasal extrusions stuck to my face, allowing them to slide around my mouth and all the way down to my chin.

    At which point, my handkerchief became useful again. I managed to catch the drips as they left my chin and used my other hand to fold the end up onto my cheeks. As I attempted to mop up the soggy mess that was my face, I caught sight of myself, reflected in a shop window. I looked like one of those old cartoon bandits with the kerchief stretched over mouth and nose.

    The bloody rattling wind caused the window to vibrate in its frame. This drew my attention back to it. As I saw my reflection for a second time, I thought I saw a glint within the glass. No, I don’t mean in the shop. I mean within the glass. Now that made me pause. Not being quite as big a fool as may be made out from time to time, I took the opportunity to step into the doorway of the shop and partially alleviate the effects of that bloody rattling wind. This allowed me to finish mopping up the last remnants of nasal extrusions from my face. However, my leaking eyes diminished their production by only a miniscule amount. So, my vision was not quite at its best. In fact, it would be fair to say that my vision qualified as impaired. With this impaired vision, I tried to make my eyes squint to see the glint again. No, I bloody couldn’t. So, being the ever inquisitive soul, I stepped out of the doorway and looked again at the glass.

    Yes! I could see it again. Sadly this lasted for but a second. That bloody rattling wind whipped a lash of raindrops straight into my face.

    Of course it bloody blinded me, again.

    Of course my bloody nose ran like a faucet, again.

    Of course the bloody nasal extrusions spread themselves across my face, again.

    This time I was much smarter. I quickly stepped back into the doorway before lifting my handkerchief to my face. Sadly, I had inadvertently squeezed the hanky into a tight ball as that bloody rattling wind struck me. The pressure applied had extruded the previous nasal deposits round the edges and through the fabric, leaving me with a gelatinous, gloopy lump that was stuck to my hand. My attempts at a clean-up were a dismal failure as the liquids of varying viscosity comingled and were spread across my face.

    You know, there comes a time in everyone’s life when you just have to say, “Fuck it. Fuck the wind. Fuck the rain. Fuck wee glinting things in windows. Enough is enough.”

    I stepped back out from my doorway, turned my back to the bloody rattling wind and set off , retracing my steps from before my unhappy encounter with the wind, the rain and the various liquids given up by my protesting body.

    Truth be told, it was only a matter of five steps that returned me to the door of the bar from whence I had set out just a few moments before. I turned into the doorway and pushed through into the warm and welcoming atmosphere that was my local bar.

    I was still partially blinded by my tearing eyes but there was no mistaking the welcome as the crowd whooped out various catcalls. I reached the counter and Harry, the barman, came up to me and said, “I bloody told you to wait for the taxicab to arrive before you went out. It will be here in five minutes; that gives you just enough time to have one more Mai Tai. That will sort you out. Now wipe your face before you mess up my bar,” and handed me a paper napkin.

    Are all barmen called Harry and are they always so bloody smart?

    765 words



  4. Tyja

    This is a tale from the Hinterland, and you may tell it the next time you find some knowing fool spreading the old lie that the people of the Hinterland have nothing but whatever ragged scraps they can scavenge from under the skirts of the Hegemony, that they are a people of borrowed gods and stolen trappings.

    It is Tyja’s tale, and Tyja was a Hinterland girl for sure, and a good girl, too. You could tell it from the cream and roses in her face, forever shaded under the broad-brimmed hat that she wore even if there were no elder present to scold her for leaving it aside, and from her lean, tanned arms – lean from all the chores of her father’s holding and tanned from going bare-armed about her work from earliest spring until autumn’s last blaze.

    Yet it is also Elni’s tale, Tyja’s sister Elni, who was neither quite so good nor quite so pretty, and came home one night with her nose broken. There had been Hegemonic traders in town that night, and one of them had thought that a girl who served ale with a saucy smile might consider another transaction. He had been both surprised and angered to find himself mistaken. Tyja straightened her sister’s nose and strapped it, and forbore from delivering the lecture Elni expected on the natural consequences of flirting in taverns. Whether the trader was tended so gently by his fellows is not recorded.

    What is recorded is that next morning Elni’s bed was empty, though her broad-brimmed, sun-faded hat still hung forlornly from its peg. She left no note – she was well enough educated after the manner of the Hinterland, but writing was not a skill that her parents valued – but she sent a message when she could. She had abandoned the illusory protection of reputation, she told the scribe, and would not pretend a propriety she had no intention of acting. Therefore she had gone bareheaded into the world, to make what she could from men who would only use force if she did not consent to be paid.

    Tyja came home once, and she was welcomed with caution and cordiality to the kitchen that had once been her mother’s realm, and belonged now to Elni. The family ate together awkwardly, but when the menfolk found that there were matters that needed their attention in the yard, and the children had been sent on harmless errands, Elni brought out a jug of something more warming than wine and Tyja began to talk. She talked of cities and ships, of silks and fine linens, she talked of fashions and music and of amusements her sister could barely understand, and, when at last the liqueur had done its work, she talked of men.

    She had known every kind of man, and she had every kind of tale. Some she told with fondness and some she told with mockery, but many she told with an odd, strained detachment, as if she had taught herself to regard them as amusing bagatelles. In one she described hiding under a table whilst three men fought for her favour, and stepping lightly over their broken bodies after they had fought one another to a standstill. The liqueur was not strong enough to mask Elni’s distaste for these tales, and by the time the men returned they were talking once more of lace patterns and of the new dyes that traders were bringing from distant shores.

    The men were working by the time Tyja rose, and Elni ruled her kitchen alone. By the time the men returned Tyja had gone, and the fat purse she had brought from the Hegemony had gone also. Elni said that Tyja had always meant to return to her own life and her own place, which was perhaps true, in its own way. She said nothing of tears, but I am certain that Tyja wept, on that second parting, for what belongs to the Hinterland folk is theirs alone, and cannot be bought, but even a tavern whore might pine for it.

    681 words


  5. Patti Smith’s Shoes

    I stumbled through the door into the warehouse I had converted from a machine shop into a magazine office. Josie was just cranking up The Ballad of Robert Moore and Betty Coletrane.

    “Oh for christsake Jo I CANNOT deal with Nick Cave before breakfast.”

    Josie grimaced at my tangled hair and clothes from the night before. As I slumped into my chair behind my desk she walked over with a cup of coffee and a bottle of Jameson whiskey. She thumped them down on the desk as her mouth tightened into a thin line of anger. I squinted up at her as she reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out my pack of Camels and the silver zippo lighter with the B etched on it. She very gently laid them on the desk and whispered in my ear.


    Then when I dropped my gaze to the smokes she smacked me so hard on the back of my head I almost hit the desk with my forehead.


    But she was already halfway across the room, her rigid back clearly saying what she wasn’t going to use words to clarify. She walked up to the stereo and turned up that frantic murder ballad that was long on murder and short on ballad. I dropped my face into my hands as every brain cell I had screamed in tortured agony. I grabbed the whiskey. I might as well get started on cleaning up this mess and I sure as hell couldn’t do it hung over and almost sober.

    Once I had my coffee doctored up right I lit a smoke and walked over to the stereo. I turned it down and sat down in the chair Jo kept next to her desk for when she was interviewing people. She ignored me.

    “Look I know you think I blew it last night but that’s not really how it ended up. The issue is almost already put to bed for this month anyway. We don’t need more material right now.”

    She glared at me. “Oh really? We don’t need more material? We ALWAYS need more material about the people and music and art we are writing about. ALWAYS YOU FUCKING IDIOT! PATTI FUCKING SMITH RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU AND THE BEST YOU COULD MANAGE WAS TO FUCKING YAK ON HER SHOES AND THEN GET INTO A BAR BRAWL WITH HER?”

    I cringed as she yelled and then gulped some more whiskey-coffee.

    “I KNOW. OWWWW! Stop yelling. Please. It’s not as bad as you think.”

    “Oh really? Really? How on earth is it not as bad as you vomiting on Patti Smiths shoes and then duking it out with her in the Frolic Room? We’re supposed to write these stories not BE these stories.”

    I sighed and lit another smoke with the end of the first one.

    “You were only there for the bad part. There was a good part too.”

    She gave me an “oh yeah?” look.

    “So after the bartender and bouncer tossed us out on the sidewalk we both sort of got tickled about the whole thing. We ended up laughing our asses off and I promised I’d buy her a new pair of Chuck Taylor’s aaaaannnddd…” I dropped my head and looked at her from under my bangs, “she’s gonna be here in about an hour to give us an exclusive on what’s it like to be creeping up on 70 and still being so punk rock she got tossed out of a bar last night.”

    Josie’s eyes rounded in surprise then glee and then panic.

    “Oh shit…we don’t have any…ANYTHING! We can’t have Patti Smith here without even a fucking donut to feed her or some bottled water to offer!”

    I grinned at her.

    “I called Martino’s it’s taken care of. I’m gonna go change. And take some fucking aspirin.”

    I got up, downed the last of my whiskey-coffee when Josie suddenly grabbed me in one of her signature full body hugs.

    “Betty, I thought you robbed us of our big chance. Sorry.”

    I smiled and hugged her back, “Don’t be sorry, I almost fucked it up. Now stop being all Taylor Swift on me.”

    Words: 700 not counting title


  6. “Well, if it ain’t Jimmy Fuckin’ McKinley. You got a hell of a lot of nerve coming here.” It had been a decade since I’d seen her, but she was still hot as fuck. A little more mature, a little rounder, but damn, in all the right ways. And with a mind to match.

    “Hey Betty. I see your name is on the sign outside now.”

    “Lots of things changed while you were vacationing in Statesville.”

    “You coulda visited me.” I hadn’t sat down, and she hadn’t reached for the sawed-off under the counter. Meaybe we were going to be kinda mature about this.

    “Ha! In your dreams. So you’re out, visiting the old haunts or something? This ain’t a place for you to hang out anymore. It’s respectable-like, with Robbie gone. We even get tourists.” I looked around at the nobody who’d been here when I walked in, and she scowled. “Well, we had a guy looking for the El who was lost. But he bought a beer, so that counts. Anyway, why are you here?”

    Now I sat down. “I’ve always liked you, Betty.”

    “Don’t give me that shit, you bastard. I know how men like you like women like me, especially after ten years with no one but Rosie to keep you company. In all the time I knew you, you never said boo to me unless you were drunk or setting Robbie up for some half-assed robbery.”

    “It’s not like that, honest. You were Robbie’s girl. He’d have shot me twice if he’d thought I liked ya – once in my balls, and once in my throat. I saw what he did to Paulie, and all he did was say your ass looked good in your jeans.”

    Betty laughed. “That wasn’t Robbie’s doing. He was a pussy when it came to that kind of thing. I always had to defend myself. But it got him more dough if people thought he was tough. Anyway, that was a long time ago. No one gives a shit about me or my ass anymore, and that’s the way it should be.”

    She turned away from me and grabbed a beer from the cooler, popping the lid off and letting the head rise just enough. I’d been a decade without a cold one, and I would have been happy with bull piss, but this was some real microbrew shit. I sipped it in silence, feeling a buzz building way too quickly. I was a lightweight now.

    Letting the warmth move through me, I worked up the guts to ask. “What happened, Betty?”
    She sighed, grabbing a bottle of bourbon from the shelf, and then setting it down, unopened. “Ah, hell, Jimmy. I don’t like to think about the old days this much. You got popped, Robbie should have – he was a right bastard, we all knew that – and it was time to move on. But he wouldn’t, and he got loose with his dick and his fists. I’m not that kind of girl, and I took care of things. The DA bought that it was self-defense. Who wouldn’t have, with Robbie’s rep? I got probation and the bar. I thought the past was dead.”

    I took a chance and reached out for her hand. To my surprise, she took it. “Not dead, babe. Just locked away for a while. And I’ve had more than enough time behind bars for this lifetime. I mean, I’m no Mr. Straight and Narrow, but that sucked balls.”

    “So, what then?” I could see her getting skittish, and she pulled her hand from mine.

    “I don’t rightly know. But I wasn’t lying before. I’ve always liked you. I ain’t got nowhere else to go, no one who even knows me. Would you mind if I hung around, at least sometimes? We could talk, or stuff.”

    Goddamn, her tits looked good when she laughed. “Or stuff, indeed. You always had a way with words.” Betty paused, and looked me over – stem to stern, as it were, but mostly staring in my eyes. “We’ll talk. Talk. And if you’re going to be here, you might as well be useful. It does actually get busy in here ‘round five.”

    700 words


  1. Pingback: Tyja | Alex Brightsmith

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