Category Archives: Friday Night Write
This was originally written for the Friday Night Write flash fiction challenge over at SweetBananaInk.com. I cleaned it up a little and freed myself from the 500 word limit…
Two blind men sat together at the base of the big monument in Columbus Circle.
They met there at sundown, every evening, so they could listen to the traffic.
The way it worked was one of them ventured an opinion on the make and model of a passing vehicle and then they’d laugh and give each other shit until it was time for the next guess.
After an hour or so they’d retire to a nearby Chock Full o’Nuts to compare their day’s hauls.
The two men first met out on the street. Both of them were outdoors and both of them were trying to work the same three or four Broadway blocks. There was a fight for territory that first day but after the cops broke it up the two men came to an understanding and divied up the area up so each of them had two blocks to panhandle.
Billy, the older of the two, finished counting his stack before Dominique did. The younger man liked to run his fingertips over the coins to determine their age and usage by the feel of the engravings.
While Dominique moved on to his last little pile of coins Billy drained their coffee mug– one of the two always bought a coffee and they shared it, taking full advantage of the Chock Full o’Nuts ‘bottomless mug’ policy.
Billy rapped on the counter to request a refill.
“Why don’t you just buy a second cup?” asked the counter woman. She was a big woman with a smoker’s voice. “You got enough on that table to cover a dozen cups. More probably.” She refilled the mug and went to brew a fresh pot.
He held the mug out in front of him and took an appreciative sniff. “Love that perfume you got on, Linda,” he said.
Linda waved a hand in derision and even though Billy couldn’t see the gesture he laughed and drank some coffee.
“How much you got there, son?” he asked Dominique.
“Thirty-one dollars and seventeen cents. You?”
“Shit. We gotta switch blocks one of these days.”
“Wouldn’t help. You just don’t have my flair for the job.”
“What I don’t have, old man, is… aw, fuck it. Doesn’t matter anyway.”
A tremendous clap of thunder overtook the street noise. The wind gusted and then the rain started.
Billy and Dominique sat still and listened to the rain, listened to the rhythm of it as it hit the sidewalk and bounced off of the coffee shop’s awning.
The sound of Linda’s scurrying feet running to close the door broke the spell.
“Guess I’m sleeping wet tonight,” said Dominique.
“You could come to the shelter with me,” replied Billy.
Billy was well aware of his friend’s truculence on the subject and didn’t push.
“Have you ever seen the rain, man?” asked Dominique.
“Yeah, I have. Many times. It’s a sight to see, son, all of those clouds filling up and letting go from on high.”
“I can’t even imagine. I can get my head ’round most things, you know, get a sense of what they’re about, but not that.”
“It’s like washing up time,” said Billy, “only everybody gets the chance to get clean if they want to.”
Dominique nodded. “Not many seem to want to.”
Billy sipped some more coffee and thought about it.
“I wonder why that is.” he said.
Saturday in the Park
Word on the street was her name was Holly.
Billy had seen her around, hanging out at the edge of the park, crashed out on a bench, always in the same short black skirt and a tank top.
He asked around but no one seemed to know where she came from.
“She’s just been around,” said one of his girls. “Doesn’t work for anyone, just hangs in the park, goes off with a guy sometimes, then back to her bench.”
He put her out of his mind for a while– she wasn’t one of his– but there was something about her. Something about her face, beneath the grime and despair of a life on the street.
Her hair was long and unruly. She wore no makeup, unusual among streetwalkers. The skirt and tank top had seen better days but she wore them well and those leather boots of hers were attention grabbers.
Billy didn’t think she was a doper but he was sure he could get her hooked. That how you keep ’em earning. Numb ’em up and send ’em out. He knew guys who’d pay a lot for a girl in black leather boots.
It was a Saturday night when Billy sat down next to Holly on her bench and started feeding her the lines.
“Dangerous place for a girl like you to go it alone.”
She looked at him out of the corners of her eyes, without turning her head.
“What makes you think I’m alone? I’m not.”
“Been watchin’ you. You could do a lot better with me.”
“I know who you are,” she said. “King Shit of the park. Heard a lot about you.”
He laughed. “Good things, I hope?”
She didn’t answer.
“I see,” he said. “I was hoping we might go somewhere and have a little party.”
“Party? What do you want, man? Speak plainly.”
He admired her spunk. He was going to enjoy breaking her. He fingered the crack pipe in his pocket and hit her with his million dollar smile.
“Let’s cut the shit. You’re out here without protection. I can give you that protection if you cut me in on what you earn. I got a lot of girls working for me.”
“I know,” she said. “You’re a real prince, I hear.”
He reached over and put his hand on her thigh. “Look. You’re gonna go with me and we’ll have a little fun and then you’ll be working for me. You don’t like that arrangement I’ll call a couple of my boys over here and we’ll drag you into that alley and it won’t be as much fun. For you. Read me?”
“If you insist,” she said, rising from the bench.
Her backup arrived seconds later.
Billy was thrown to the ground and handcuffed. He was still down there, staring at those black leather boots, when Holly read him his rights.
This was written for Friday Night Write, a 500 word flash fiction challenge hosted by Sweet Banana Ink. The prompt for this week’s challenge is the song “C’mon Talk” by Bernhoft.
It was three o’clock in the morning and Vasquez’ wedding was over.
My best friend Vasquez, resplendent in his topcoat and bermuda shorts, and Luisa, the bride, stunning in a white sarong, married barefoot on the beach with three hundred of their nearest and dearest.
Annette and I were by the fountain outside the hotel bar.
I thought back to the night six years ago when Vasquez and I met her at our favorite Alphabet City dive bar, the first time I saw her in a haze of smoke and booze. The first time I watched her eyes follow Vasquez across a room.
It was so long ago, but the memory hadn’t faded.
Not even a little bit.
It had been one hell of a wedding, happy and sappy, and I danced all the slow numbers with Annette like I promised her I would.
I held her close and pretended not to notice the way she looked at Vasquez when she thought no one could see.
All things considered, Annette put a damned good face on it, flitting and flirting her way around the room, laughing when it was called for and, despite what it cost her, smiling through the entire day.
She was still smiling and was just a little drunk as she danced around in the fountain.
The bass and just a hint of the vocals from the music bled out of the bar.
Bernhoft’s ‘C’mon Talk’. The universe had a sense of humor.
Annette looked at me and smiled as Bernhoft gave way to a Nina Simone ballad.
“You promised, Jake.”
“Lilac wine is sweet and heady,
Like my love…”
She put her hands out for me and I helped her out of the fountain so we could dance.
“Lilac wine… I feel unsteady…”
Her eyes fluttered open and she looked me in the eye, watching me watching her. The eye contact lasted no more than a couple of seconds but it was enough.
Our lips hovered just millimeters apart. I could feel her need to be kissed. The ache was as keen as my own. But it couldn’t be. Not then. Not like this.
Annette shuddered against me.
She pressed her face into my chest and whispered through her tears. “I fooled them all, didn’t I, Jake?”
I bit my lip and held it until I tasted blood.
“Yeah, baby. You fooled us all.”
This was written for Friday Night Write hosted by http://www.sweetbananaink.com working with a 500 word limit.
The black flies buzzed around his head, attracted to the sweat in his hair, as he sat and waited for an answer.
The woman on the other side of the rickety card table didn’t look like a witch but that’s what everyone said she was.
Bruja. Curandera. A reader of cards and someone capable of stirring the unseen powers to do her bidding.
Mick tried in vain to shoe the flies. Their buzzing was jackhammer loud in the otherwise silent room.
When the wind blew the door open a crack he could hear music– a tremulous voice accompanied by an accordion– from somewhere down the street.
Magrarita sat still with her eyes closed and and a beatific smile on her lips.
She was young, far younger than Mick expected. Nature had done well by her in the way of cheekbones and her long black hair hung unrestrained around her shoulders.
Her skin glowed golden in the candlelight.
Without opening her eyes she reached out her hand to Mick.
He gave up his fight against the flies and took her hand in his. He squirmed a little in the uncomfortable folding chair and stared at her, unsure of what he was supposed to be doing or feeling.
She released his hand after just a few seconds and opened her eyes.
Mick sat back in his chair and found that he’d broken out in a cold sweat.
“They have spoken,” said Margarita. “You will have no rival for your woman’s affections after today.”
Mick slammed his hand down on the table hard enough to make the papers and candle on it jump.
Margarita regarded him with eyes that were neither kind nor unkind. “It may be,” she said. “I cannot tell you how, only what will be.”
He jumped out of his chair and dug out a money clip. He counted off five twenties and put them down on the table in front of her.
“Either way, I got no problems after today, like you said. Gracias, Margarita!”
She did not move as he turned and bounded out the door.
She also didn’t move as six gunshots rang out.
The music from down the street stopped and a commotion began to build outside her door.
Margarita blew out the candle and left Mick’s money on the table as she got up and looked out into the street.
Mick was lying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk.
The unseen powers were right. He no longer had any rival for his woman’s affection.
I punched the alarm clock across the room when it went off. I was done fucking around with the snooze button.
The Fray bleated at me, muffled by the pile of laundry the clock landed in.
I had to make it stop, which meant getting my ass out of bed.
After picking the shattered remnants of the alarm clock out of the bottom of my foot I pulled off a ten minute shower and shave combo and made it out the door before first light.
The street was empty when I climbed into the Towncar and got it started.
The Fray bleated at me on the radio. I cycled through the stations but couldn’t get away from that fucking song.
I counted to ten and convinced myself to go with it because I couldn’t take the silence and I stepped on the gas pedal. I had work to do.
The rain started up barely five miles out of town. The Towncar was fishtailing all over the road and I groaned inside every time I heard the load in the trunk shifting.
Had to be done, I told myself. Simple case of self-preservation. Them or you.
By the time I made fifty miles on the highway I believed that it was all for the greater good and I was ready for some steak and eggs.
I hit the truck stop just off of exit 28. The rain just wouldn’t let up and it soaked me in the seven steps from my spot to the front door.
It was warm in the truck stop and the smell of coffee had me singing hallelujahs but it all turned to shit before my ass even hit the stool at the counter.
The Fray began bleating at me out of the juke box.
Over my head, they kept on singing.
Now, once you can’t do anything about. Twice? Still could be chalked up to coincidence. Three times in the space of two hours? That’s the universe trying to tell you something via emo pop.
I pushed the steak and eggs around my plate for a while but couldn’t eat much. The rain wasn’t letting up any so I gave up waiting and got back on the road.
The girl at the cash register was humming that fucking Fray song.
The rain got even harder as I pulled out of the parking lot and merged back onto the highway. I was not looking forward to this job in the rain. At least the ground would be softened up.
When that Fray song came on yet again I closed my eyes and cursed.
When I opened them I just about had a heart attack.
Three men were sitting in the back seat of the Towncar. Three men who should have been lying dead in the trunk.
The one in the middle shot me a grin full of shattered teeth.
“You’re in over your head, boy,” he said. “It’s our turn now.”