Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 2.31

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Year 2, Week 31.

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 MIDNIGHT PACIFIC TIME on Friday. You read that right. Pacific Time.

This week’s song prompt is a taste of the blues. The tune is, “Slow Train”, by Joe Bonamassa.

Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/1YDAB1wSVtI

This week’s Judge is… author Lori Fetters Lopez!

The challenge opens the moment you read this post and runs through MIDNIGHT PACIFIC TIME on Friday January 2nd.

Now… Go write!!!

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Posted on December 30, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. LEVEL
    by Dan Dillard

    Pentatonic blues oozed from the speakers in his living room. The apartment was small…big enough for just Dale. He was sprawled on the couch with his arms and legs spread like DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man and he faced the small television, although it was turned off. Aside from the ratty couch and the small table that held the second-hand stereo and television, the room was empty. A card table with a pair of folding chairs sat by the window. His twin bed was in the other room. He owned one compact disc and it was playing through for the fourth or fifth time that evening.
    Dale was cooling down. It had taken a week this time to get cool. The blues helped. It drowned out the crying baby next door to the east and the couple that argued through the night on the west.
    He studied the dust pattern on the television screen. It wasn’t there when the picture was bright, but now, he only saw his own blurry reflection and swipes of clean in the dust from the last time he’d wiped it off. The urge to stand and clean it was strong, but lost out to the urge to finish cooling off. Dale was almost there. Though he had showered each day, brushed his teeth each day, cleaned his apartment and washed his clothes, the smell of blood still lingered in his nostrils and the sticky feel of it still lingered on his fingertips. The taste was still on his tongue…almost gone…almost cool.
    The man on the stereo system howled as if in pain, like the guitar riff was slicing through him. Dale felt like that man. Wounds recently healed that would open again. Wounds caused by a thankless job, by an empty bank account, by an anemic love life, by a tiny neighbor who would not stop crying—the lungs on that kid, a future singer of the blues, by listening to the warring words to the west—they should be thankful to have each other. Wounds caused by his need to wound.
    Have I killed nine or was it ten? Eleven? I can’t remember anymore. I should learn their names. I should keep them…but they aren’t necessary.
    The CD finished and repeated.
    It was almost midnight and for the first time since Dale had stabbed the last woman—a lovely, dark-skinned woman—he took a deep breath and it cleansed him. He was level again. A hot shower felt good and then some cold leftovers with a cup of coffee tidied him up nicely.
    1:00 am. Resting. His bed was cold, lonely, but it warmed as he lay there under the blanket. He was drifting, feeling the ease in his muscles, the tension in his shoulders slough away like old skin.
    2:00 am. Dale’s eyes closed slowly. He sighed, but the arguing started and it woke the baby who began to cry. All those knots pulled tight again. All of those other thoughts filled his head again. Worthless, thankless, loveless, friendless, goalless, faceless, nameless.
    There was another woman he had noticed in his neighborhood. He’d been meaning to get around to paying her a visit. He knew where she lived, had followed her there a few times. He knew her name as well, had seen it on her mail. Dale had kept a couple of her bills and carried them to her front door the next morning. He knew she’d be home.
    “Hi,” he said when she opened it. “I think I must’ve gotten some of your mail by mistake…” he looked at the envelope to read her name. “Miss Lopez.”
    The young woman smiled. There was apprehension there, but it faded quickly until he took her inside to introduce her to his knife, the blues playing in his head the whole time.

    636 words @demonauthor

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  2. There. Almost. The burn. The tingle. The relief.

    He sighs and lets his head fall back, resting it against the wall. His eyes slide closed. For a moment he’s boneless, weightless, effortless. The sensation is slow and steady; and in this moment it’s the only thing there is. The only thing that matters.

    Then everything shifts somehow. It’s both the same and different every time.

    A moment ago he felt as though he couldn’t move, didn’t want to move ever again. Now he feels like he’s liquid in motion. Everything down to his fingertips buzzes, and he’s somehow aware of everything and nothing at the same time. He takes a deep breath as a smile spreads slowly, languidly across his face. It’s a smile he feels in every pore, every atom even.

    There’s a tiny sound of clinking and rolling glass somewhere in the distance as his arm slides and slumps to his side and his hand relaxes, but he pays no attention.

    After a minute, an hour, or maybe even a day he opens his eyes, and for a moment the pain threatens to break through the euphoria as he catches a glimpse of the photograph in the shiny metal frame on the table next to him. Behind the glass she smiles at him, but he knows it’s a lie. If she could see him like this—see him broken, disheveled, and on the floor—she wouldn’t be smiling. In his mind he sees the look of disgust and disappointment on her face he’s seen a thousand times, and his heart clenches quickly and painfully. The feeling reminds him he’s still real, still tethered to his body, and he loves it and despises it all at the same time.

    He’s so weak, always so weak. Each time he tells himself will be the last time, and each time he returns, hands shaking and desperate out of his mind for more.

    He lets out a shaky breath and runs a hand over his face. His forehead is wet with sweat.

    Like always, the pain doesn’t last long. Slowly and steadily it becomes dull and muted as the image of her becomes hazy and watery, as if he’s staring at it through the depths of some great pool.

    He tears his eyes away from her photo, which isn’t as difficult to do as he knows it should be. He sighs.

    Later, he knows he’ll feel the pain of this moment that his body won’t let him feel now. Later he’ll have to think about the fact that she’s gone. He’ll allow himself to dredge up the memory of the last time he saw her, and once again his heart will feel like it’s being ripped out of his chest.

    But for now, he lets himself get carried away. Slowly, steadily away.

    470 words/@RL_Ames

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  3. Leaving

    He opened his eyes slowly and then sat up fully awake all at once. He frowned as he looked around the empty room. He put his hand on the pillow next to his…cold. She’d been gone a while. He looked to where her bag had been next to the dresser, also gone now, and saw the plain white folded piece of paper lying on her grandmother’s embroidered dresser scarf. He rubbed his face and then got up and went to get the note.

    ***
    She checked in to the residence hotel. Though “check in” and “hotel” were both terms to be used quite loosely in this case. She was pretty sure this place rented by the hour and judging by how reluctant the desk clerk was to give her a room she didn’t appear to be their target clientele. But she’d paid for five nights in advance and no one in this part of town argued with money. Besides, looks were deceiving. While she didn’t appear to be their usual renter, statistically she was sure she fell well within the parameters of at least half of those in residence tonight. She climbed the stairs to her second floor room. Number 27. She stared at the number for a few minutes and decided she liked it. There was a lot of good company with that number.

    ***
    He stood staring out the window. It had been a good night. It had been more than he’d hoped for really. She was her old self, sharp and funny and passionate. Once dinner was finished he had begun to hope that the hospital stay had really done its job. There was only the tiniest bit of lingering sadness in her eyes. But she wasn’t carrying the lives of everyone in her unit that died, every person she had to shoot to get herself out alive, every broken body she had to crawl over to make it home. She seemed to have let go of the darkest moments and was free of her even darker solutions. But apparently that was all for show or maybe just the only thing she had left to give. He knew it was too late. She’d made it clear she was leaving the city. She could be anywhere, but most likely by now she was nowhere.

    ***
    She placed her dress uniform on the bed with her military ID set to the side. She’d had the uniform cleaned and all the brass was shining. She wore her last set of fatigues. Standing in the middle of the small dingy room she tried to decide if she should sit on the floor or the chair. Not the bed, she didn’t want to disturb the dress uniform. Finally she decided on the chair since it was next to a small table where she could set up her gear. She opened the small leather bag and pulled out the spoon, paper bindle, lighter, syringe and cotton. A little water, a little strychnine, her belt and a last look around. As it bubbled and steamed she heard a distant train whistle, time to go.

    ***
    He sat rigid in the folding chair clutching the tattered note in his callused hand. A solider presented him with the folded flag. He suffered the condolences. Mostly he waited for them to all leave. Eventually it was just him and the guys sitting in the front loader waiting to close up the grave. He stood up and gently placed the flag on a chair and walked to the edge of the deeply cut hole in the ground. He looked at the note one last time.

    “They won’t let me stay, I’m so sorry.”

    He let go. It fluttered to the shiny box that held what remained of her, to be buried along with what remained of his heart.

    @MissBliss
    Words: 642 Not including title

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  4. Stacy Fileccia

    Red Lines
    By Stacy Fileccia

    Henry Wilder stared deep into his own bloodshot eyes, wondering at the missing depths of humanity. Pools of thought and understanding were entirely missing from those muddy browns, and he wondered where he had left those pieces of himself. He contemplated the red lines as if they were train tracks that had slowly played out the long sad story of his life—a life of fleeting eurphorias and long horrid blank blacknesses. Even the whites were stained yellow as if by dust sprayed upon a train from a drought-torn land.
    He tried to pull down the lower lid in search of something—anything—but he couldn’t manage even that. What should have been soft held no feeling whatever for him. He couldn’t move the insignificant eyelid, and the Basset Hound orbs stared back at him.
    He would have jumped back from his eyes had they not been his own. Instead, they fascinated him in their lackluster ways. He had seen eyes like that before.
    The first time had been in an alley behind a bar on Fourth Street. She had stared back in this same way as her blood dripped from his knife. He vaguely remembered wiping the knife on his dirty jeans. He didn’t remember his walk to the next town. But he did recall how he couldn’t see her soul within minutes of the plunge. He wondered where it went.
    He didn’t really keep count of how many other eyes he had seen, how many souls escaped before he could catch them. He didn’t know any more than the highs and lows that engulfed his existence.
    Forgetting all that, he tapped the glass. No sharp sound came forth. Only the dull sound of lifelessness. He poked the left eye. As with the eyelid, he felt nothing—no glass, no wetness, no rubbery spring. His eyes didn’t blink.
    The thought came slowly to his mind, like a loaded train pulling from the station. As it built up speed, Henry found himself caught in the deadlight of it as the cross ties rumbled under his feet. Whistles screamed. Still he stared, frozen in space and time. The thought train hit him with a force that surely would have knocked him dozens of feet in the air (had he been standing), but he wasn’t.
    He was lying down atop his lifelessness, trying to find the pieces of his soul he had scattered across the lands. Then he realized he didn’t care about them. He pushed himself up.
    If he could have seen his new self in a mirror, he would have seen only a blackened, twisted trashbag with soulless eyes. Sparse hair covered his decrepit form. He knew nothing of this. Nor did he care.
    A deep moaning surrounded him like the call of a Tornado seeking her lover, Destruction—like a freight train zooming toward its destiny.
    He felt this call more than heard it. His sad, useless form ached toward it. Miniscule molecules of his being began slipping toward the Siren’s call, toward the glow of an enormous fire out of control. Other torn, wasted, useless lives poured with him, mere shadows of what could have been. Down, down, down they went. Together to their torments. Forever to burn. Forever to die.

    WC: 543
    @StacyFileccia

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  5. Meeting the Train

    Jefferson sat out on the veranda, enjoying the late afternoon sun. He had a good view from here, could see the track up on the ridge and knew the train would be coming soon; he could set his clock by it. And he knew he had to go and meet it soon too, although for now he was content to watch this one pass.

    He’d thought it through many times, watched himself in his minds eye take that walk up the hill to the ridge. How he would look back across the land he’d lived on for the better part of his life, as the sound of the engine grew louder. He’d have no regrets.

    He’d lived with Eileen for enough years now to know that regrets were a bad thing. He watched her wallow so deep, consuming herself with grief for what could have been. He’d tried at the beginning to pull her out of it, but it got too hard. She’d suck him right in too, if he’d let her. But he wouldn’t. Damn, somebody had to be here, work the place, and remember what living was for!

    He wondered if they’d be there waiting for him, wondered what they looked like, and if they’d recognise him. He’d spent his life wondering those things, but now he could feel the clock ticking harder, and couldn’t hold off for much longer. Although while he could still rock here in the chair and drink his beer, he wasn’t in a hurry; the sun was yet to get down and reveal the night lanterns in the sky, along with a full moon lighting up the land with its eerie brightness. He wanted to see that one more time at least.

    Then her voice came, dispelling his daydreams, calling for him to come tend to her, and he felt the pull again. Maybe tonight would be a good night, he could see his way up the ridge in the full moon. He knew what time the train would be coming.

    He went into the house and up the stairs to the bed he’d shared with her for what felt like forever, and saw her all swallowed up by life. There was little he could do for her now but give comfort. Her breathing was short and he didn’t think she’d make the morning, although it wasn’t the first time he’d thought that. He looked through the medicines by the bed and thought about his trip up to the ridge. Watching her made him feel more restless than ever. He patted her arm as he gave her what she needed, and stroked her hair. With her quieted he knew it was time.

    With nothing more than his wallet in his pocket and his best jacket on, he stepped off the veranda and started the climb. The light was now caught between the setting of one and the rising of the other, its juxtaposition putting the house behind him in darkness with the light in front. He paused as he always dreamed he would, just before the top, and looked back at the home he had built for them.

    From this position he could just make out the side yard and the three dark crosses in the shadow by the house. She wanted them near, she’d said, so they knew where home was, even though they’d never lived in it. As they’d brought each one back from the hospital, he’d dug their graves, burying a little piece of himself with along with them.

    He turned then, at that thought, and headed on to meet the train. He could hear it now, travelling along the ridge. It would be here soon, and he would be there to meet it, and he hoped they would be too, as he stepped out on the tracks and faced the big engine at full speed.

    Word Count: 646
    @PurpleQueenNL

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  6. “Leave the field now and you’re fired,” Jesus shouts with his Honduran accent. “If you’re fired, then I won’t drive you back to the station.”
    How nice. It’s only a twenty-mile drive to the bus depot. “Hombre,” I say. He hates when we call him that. “You know that’s a tornado incoming, right? We need to get to a building or a drainage ditch.”
    Jesus turns, and is deliberate in looking at the stovepipe funnel heading our way. “It will change path college boy. Get back to harvesting or the storm won’t be the biggest danger you face.”
    The air has been still. It was just another sweltering day in the fields. Another day closer to when winter will releases us from this drudgery.
    Then a lone monster cloud appeared on the horizon. A mushroom-looking monster that started to churn. We kept picking tomatoes, but always with an eye towards the sky.
    The first of us to break and run was D’bronte. He’s a city kid, the kind who get scared by freaky clouds. Next went Jackson. I didn’t grow nervous until Jackson left. But, he’s a Southern boy whose saving up to lease hunting land. If anyone knows a bad storm, it’s him.
    “Hombre, these aren’t your lives to risk. We’re just here for the paycheck.”
    Jesus runs up and from his demeanor I half expect him to tackle me. “You will show me respect. I am under orders to get this field picked. That means you will shut up and pick it if you want paid.”
    If I didn’t need the money for books I’d punch him. Okay, not really, he does manual labor for a living, and seems like a tough customer.
    I uncurl my first and get back to picking. Jesus stares at me until I’ve cleared three plants. I’ve had bad bosses before, but none ever told me to keep working when I might die.
    Other workers drop their gear and run, but Jesus still lords over me.
    Being trapped is horrible. I need the money to get a degree, so I can stop working jobs that I feel trapped in. Stupid cycle of life.
    Hot moist air races past me towards the storm. Usually the wind cools me, but this is like a wet hairdryer. Looking up I see the tornado closing.
    There is no train sound. Instead it’s more like a vacuum. The workers on that side of the field are running. Jesus or not, I drop my knife and sprint for the drainage ditch.
    A cold rain appears. I slip on the new mud and face-plant between rows. Jesus races past and dives into the drainage ditch. I hope someone fires him for leaving the field — jerk.
    The tornado rips past. I keep my head low and legs crossed. Tomatoes whip past. A few tomatoes thud into me. Thank goodness commercial growers don’t use cages.
    The sound dies. I look up to find the tornado disappearing. The rain continues, but the spinning tube of death is gone.
    Pedro, normally the driver, starts shouting out people’s names. All the workers are here, but Jesus is gone.
    “Have you seen Jesus?” he asks me.
    I’d laugh if I hadn’t just about met his namesake. “He dove in the drainage ditch.”
    We walk along the side, but these ditches become rivers during storms.
    In an hour we’re sure Jesus is gone. The more heretical suggest he was pulled back to heaven. I skip jokes like that. I know where we’ll find him. And more to the point, I know why he was in that ditch.

    Word Count: 603
    @michaelsimko1

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