I May Not Know Art But I Know What I Like

art

Image credit: Fandango

“So, what’s with the crap?” Tammy waved her arm at the unlikely collection of two beat up rocking chairs and a dead tree.

“It’s art, I guess.” Her companion Ryan scratched his head in puzzlement.

“We had to pay to get in and see this? And look at the price. Who’d pay $800.00 for this?”

“Come on, hun. Jay’s a nice guy, and we said we’d support his debut here at the art museum.” Then he grabbed her arm. “Hush. Here he comes.”

“Ryan! Tammy!” The young man dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and a tan sports jacket approached holding out his hand. “I’m glad you could make it.”

They each shook hands with the broadly grinning artist.

“What do you think?” He waited expectantly.

“Well, it’s interesting,” Ryan said, trying to look contemplative.

“Yes, that’s what it is. Interesting.” Tammy hoped she could bluff her way through the conversation.

“Oh, come now. You know it’s just a bunch of junk thrown together, but it’s what the public likes.”

The couple both stared at their neighbor like he’d suddenly turned green.

“Excuse me, Mr. Fellows?” One of the exhibit managers approached Jay. “A gentlemen says he wishes to purchase your work.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of October 21, 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I didn’t want to write about an art exhibit, but the surroundings clearly indicate that’s what this is. Hopefully, I managed to put a sufficient spin on the topic.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

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Quoting: Avoid Using Guilt to Justify Inaction

Feeling guilty is the lazy way of reacting. A guilty person resigns himself to keeping his faults and does not try to take actions to improve.

Don’t use guilt feelings to justify laziness and procrastination. If a person tends to think in terms of guilt, when he hears an idea he will say to himself, “How awful it is that I’m not following that idea.”

It is more productive to keep focus on what you can do to implement the principle or concept.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Happiness,” p.222

The New Dragon Saga: Captive

golden dragon

Found at fr.ulule.com

The doorbell rang again.

“Just a minute.”

The seventeen-year-old boy went to the front door, and looking through the peep-hole, saw a mail carrier holding a package. Turning the deadbolt, he opened the door, and then, in a breathtaking fashion, his world ceased to exist.

“Landon.” His master’s voice came from behind him. He turned, and the full ten-meter length of the great golden dragon’s spectral image rushed through the house like a frigid wind, chilling the boy’s flesh as the serpent passed through his body and into the brilliant void outside the front door.

“Buddy!” He had to scream now to be heard above the sudden gale which carried him away after the dragon, who was already receding into the distance.

“Help me, Landon.” The dragon’s voice was a soft, still whisper he could barely hear within the roar of an arctic-cold hurricane, and then it was gone.

Chapter 6: Thus did the great golden dragon Xendrizdelian Nygardia Chyz, Shadow Master, Lord of Abibligon, of the Order of Zin become unmade, being swiftly ushered down the vortex of icy white mist at an impossible velocity. As he helplessly fell into an unknown distance, his body shrank, not in the manner of merely becoming smaller, but becoming younger, less developed, adolescent, and then younger still. And while his form regressed, so did his mind, his memories, his emotions, his spirit.

Then he was alone in the darkness, in the space between spaces and he was terrified. He was after him, a mighty ruler, a relentless king. Xian, King of the Shadow Dragons. The tiny Xen was exhausted, defenseless. One more strike by the King and he would be dead. Only one thing left to do. It was forbidden, but his only haven now was the human world. If he could open a portal in time.

The diminutive dragon, now about the size of a small collie, was just crossing the threshold into the realm of the one reality no dragon was ever to witness, when a bolt of blood-red energy smashed into him. He cried out in fiery anguish as his right wing was shattered, and he passed out while plummeting downward into the night sky.

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Quoting: Life-Tests and Trust

When a person has mastered the trait of trust in G-d, (“bitachon”), he will look forward to difficult life-tests in order to show his love for the Almighty. His devotion to the Almighty in difficult situations is a manifestation of his high spiritual level and he actually welcomes these tests.

-See Rabbi Yosef Hurwitz of Nevardok – Madraigos Haadam; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Consulting the Wise”

The Queen of New Orleans

new orleans french quarter

Image credit: GonzoVeritas – found at reddit

It was after two in the morning and a light rain fell on New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Sean Becker walked into a small jazz club. He was almost the only white person here, but his bond with those around him went deeper than race.

“You da one wantin’ to see Mama Marie.” She could have been about fifteen, coal-dark skin and hair, but her eyes burned emerald.

“Yes.”

“Come.”

They walked through curtains and then down a dark hallway, terminating at a door. “She’s expectin’ you.” The child who could have been centuries old left as Sean opened the door and entered.

“What you got to offer?”

The voodoo queen whose mausoleum was just a mile away lived up to the legend.

“Release my mother and I’ll tell you where you can find Lilith.”

“The vampire queen. If you give her to me, your mother lives. Marie Laveau swears it.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to New Orleans, Louisiana. There is so much that could be written by this iconic city, but is also figures into my unfinished first draft of a horror novel featuring the vampire Sean Becker. You can read about him in such stories as Approaching Advent and The Beginning of the Fall.

My wee tale was actually to be part of the climax of my novel, with Sean facing the ancient voodoo queen Marie Laveau who is now the matriarch of a clan of vampires. I did a bit more research and came up with How to Experience New Orleans’ Voodoo Culture. I even looked up the weather, and yes, it’s raining in the Big Easy today.

Oh, and although Lilith is often characterized as the mother of all the succubus, in my tale, she’s the worldwide queen of all vampires.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Legend of Earth

glimmer

© Sue Vincent

Luke Wallace stumbled over the alien terrain as the dawning sun rose to his left, but it was the twinkling of tiny lights directly in his path that had been holding his attention for the past three hours.

The biologist was the sole survivor of the “Hawking,” an exploratory superluminal spacecraft owned by Blue Astra Space Corporation. The primary power coupling blew just 92 hours after they’d returned to normal space, and 15 minutes after they’d entered orbit around Kessel-Origan B, the most Earth-like exoplanet ever discovered, and only 167 light years from home.

He was the only one to get to an escape pod in time as cryonic gas from the exploding coolant system filled the command module. He ejected the pod, passing through energy ripples caused by the dying FTL drive, what Hicks once called “the probability machine.” The exotic radiation passed directly through the pod’s hull, and it felt like he was swimming through liquid fire when it hit his body.

Five hours ago, he regained consciousness. The pod had already landed, or rather, crash landed. His safety couch had deployed insulating gel,which had shielded him from the shock of impact, but the controls, radio, emergency beacon were all gone. He was lucky to retrieve a three-day supply of water and rations, but there was no going back. He would either have to find a way to survive on an alien world or die.

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Quoting: To Err is Human

A student of Rabbi Nochum Zev Ziv once erred in the pronunciation of a word when publicly repeating the Amidah prayer. Someone pointed out the correct pronunciation, and the student repeated the word accurately. However, the student became confused and nervous and made many more errors.

After the prayers, Rabbi Nochum Zev approached him and said, “How is it possible to be so arrogant? Do you think you are so perfect that you cannot possibly make any mistakes?”

When I told the above story to someone, they asked, “Won’t the student feel even worse and more upset by the fact that his teacher told him he was arrogant?”

It depends on how such a message comes across. If said with understanding and concern, the message is, “I care about you. Why do you have to make yourself so upset over a minor error? Of course, you are fallible and make mistakes. Expect to make mistakes and keep trying to improve, but do not feel devastated when you err.”

Sources: Imrai Daas, p.218; Gateway to Happiness, pp.130-1

DVD Film Review: Black Panther

black panther

Promotional poster for the 2018 film “Black Panther”

Okay, so last night, I watched Black Panther (2018) and loved it. Actually, for me, picking up the main themes wasn’t difficult at all, and yes it is more than just another superhero story. It’s both the epic tale of a new King who is struggling to determine the direction of his nation, and a spiritual journey for personal truth, especially between father and son.

I’m not being frivolous or unkind when I say that the latter reminded me of the 1994 Disney film The Lion King. After all, Simba (voiced by Matthew Broderick) has to come to terms with his guilt over his father Mufasa’s (voiced by James Earl Jones) death and his worthiness to become a King. He is also challenged by his rival Scar (voiced by Jeremy Irons) and must risk death fighting for the right to ascend the throne.

Oh, by the way, spoiler alert. I’ll be dropping plenty of them, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, stop reading here.

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Quoting: Seeing the Other Side of the Story

Seeing things from the other person’s point of view has a profound effect on our emotional health, since the totality of how we relate to others is dependent on this concept. When you master the ability to view others as they see themselves, you will gain the love of everyone.

Today, think of someone you find it difficult to get along with. See this person as he views himself and patiently talk to him from his perspective.

Sources: see Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler – Michtav MaiEliyahu, vol.4, p.244

A New Home for Diablo

chicks

August MorgueFIle 139596857318u1t

“Bubbe! Baby chickies!” The enthusiastic three-year-old girl let go of her grandmother’s hand and ran over to the heated glass enclosure. She pressed her palms and nose against it and then pulled back. “It’s hot, Bubbe.”

“It’s okay to look, but don’t scare them, Dani.” The sixty-year-old bent over and put her hand gently on the child’s shoulder.

“Look, a kitty-cat.” The toddler spun to her left when she spied the black feline out of the corner of her eye. Surprisingly, when she zipped over to the edge of the counter to pet it, the cat didn’t even flinch.

“Your cat is amazingly calm,” the grandparent said to the young cashier.

“Yes, and he needs a new home, unfortunately. The former owners had to move and couldn’t take Diablo with them.” The woman’s raven hair was as dark as the cat’s fur.

“Diablo?” The older woman quickly pulled her phone from her purse as her granddaughter continued to pet the cat. “Jim. It’s me. How would you like to give an abandoned cat a new home?”

I wrote this for week #42 of Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 176.

I admit that the photo didn’t immediately inspire a pulse-pounding, dynamic tale of action and adventure, but I remembered my wife telling me that she took our granddaughter to a local gardening and feed store the other day, and they did have a cat there needing a new home. On a separate occasion, I’ve visited another branch of the same store and saw chicks in a heated case, so I put the two events together.

And no, we didn’t adopt the cat. I made that part up.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com. As of this writing, I’m the first to contribute, so please consider adding your own wee tale.

Thanks.