Seven Weeks of the Devil

hell's kitchen

Hell’s Kitchen in the 1920s – This file is licensed under a free license.

I was working as a printer’s devil for old man MacPherson, me, an Irish boy of only sixteen, but it was good pay, through my hands became black as night as I sorted the cast metal type in the hellbox and put ’em back in the job case. I’d gotten used to the noise, but in order to kill the monotony, Grady Owens, the chief printer, set up a radio so we could listen to music and the news, though he had to turn the volume up pretty high.

I figured I’d do my hitch at MacPherson’s, learn my way around the trade, then move up to something more substantial. Occasionally, he’d have me move heavy reams of newsprint, but I didn’t mind. Gave me a chance to wash my hands, then have a smoke with the other boys and men on the dock before putting my back into it. Even the older Joes respected me on account of my bouts at Clancy’s on the weekends. Clancy says I’ve got potential, box like the devil, which is another reason they call me that name.

I’ve always been big for my age, which causes Ma fits because she keeps having to let the hem out of my trouser legs.

For a long while, I didn’t have a clue that what I was hearing on the radio was different than everyone else. While they were listening to “Cow Cow Blues,” “A Gay Caballero,” and “Sonny Boy,” I was hearing nothing but the news. That wouldn’t be too unusual, but I’d get all kinds of news, from different days, and weeks, and months, all in the same hour.

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The Liars

ox head

1361226489r9nsl MorgueFile

Loren Jackson stopped her Jeep Wrangler in front of Erwin’s rundown one-room shack located a ten miles south of Barstow. He said the isolation helped him keep his head clear. Time was running out, and the investigative reporter needed answers, whether corroborated or not. The Senate vote to confirm was only two days away.

Over the past ten years, she had used the aged recluse to point her in the right direction in half a dozen exclusive stories. She’d even won a Pulitzer for breaking the Clinton scandal, though it didn’t garner her much favor in the eyes of her progressive colleagues. The psychic had never failed her, so she was confident he would come through this time as well.

It was still early morning and cold in the desert as her booted left foot stepped across the open threshold. He was sitting cross-legged, eyes fluttering, holding what looked like a cow’s skull on his lap.

“What the heck is that thing?”

He opened his eyes and looked up. “A symbol. They sometimes manifest when I come out of a trance.”

“What’s it mean? What did you find out? Which one of them is telling the truth.”

“They’re both lying.”

I wrote this for Week 40 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge. 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 know, I’m taking liberties with the prompt, but the whole Brett Kavanaugh confirmation three-ring circus hearings have been weighing heavily on my mind for a while now. I keep considering the allegations and what’s come up so far from the FBI’s investigation, tossing them back and forth in my thoughts. There are a few things.

It seems that none of the people at the party where Dr. Ford alleges she was sexually assaulted even remember being there:

Each has said previously that they do not recall the gathering Ford described. Eric B. Bruce, Smyth’s attorney, issued a statement Monday saying Smyth “truthfully answered every question the FBI asked him and, consistent with the information he previously provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he indicated that he has no knowledge of the small party or gathering described by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, nor does he have any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct she has leveled against Brett Kavanaugh.”

At least one of Kavanaugh’s friends have stated Kavanaugh is an aggressive and belligerent drunk, which could support Ford’s allegations that he assaulted her while intoxicated.

On the other hand, the various phobias Dr. Ford states she continues to suffer from (including a fear of flying even though she regularly flies) have been refuted in a letter from an anonymous party claiming to be Ford’s ex boyfriend.

I know. A witness claiming Kavanaugh has a history of being aggressive when drunk and an anonymous ex-boyfriend saying that Ford isn’t claustrophobic because she once lived in a 500 sq ft apartment and lived for a time in Hawaii (and unless she took a ship, she most likely got there by flying). It’s not much to go on, but consider this.

Let’s say that those allegations are factual. It means both Kavanaugh and Ford lied under oath and are both guilty of perjury:

A person convicted of perjury under federal law may face up to five years in prison and fines. The punishment for perjury under state law varies from state to state, but perjury is a felony and carries a possible prison sentence of at least one year, plus fines and probation.

If proven, then technically, they both could go to prison. It probably won’t go that way, but even if Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh are established to be factual, in all likelihood (again, assuming a friend and an ex-boyfriend are correct) they both did lie.

Anyway, back to the photo challenge. To read other stories based on the prompt, and so far, mine’s the only one, visit InLinkz.com.

Future Tension

marigolds

Photo by Surachai Piragsa – Bangkok Post – 2017

Adam had to look up the word Hemmablind to find out what his wife meant. Yeah, it described him pretty well. He just didn’t notice all of the little imperfections in and around the house. The tear in the back screen door, the weeds growing in the flowerbed, they were all the same to him, and her constant pestering about them was a pain in his pinfeathers.

Yet, as oblivious as he was to all the chores she set before him each morning, he was able to carry himself in a decorous fashion, even when she said the leaf-filled rain gutters and the clogged bathroom sink were the final straw.

Oh, he had attempted to summon up a token effort or two, but it wasn’t enough to draw her attention away from his overall pattern of inactivity. He used his bad back as a crutch, but that didn’t hold up as an excuse, and certainly did not hold their marriage together.

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Touching

bonsallesart

Art work: © bonsallesart.wordpress.com (Used with Permission)

“Don’t touch me.”

“I like you Clarissa. Can’t we just hold hands?”

“I…I don’t know, Brad. I don’t know if I feel…”

Clarissa isn’t afraid of what she doesn’t feel but what she will if she lets Brad touch her.

It didn’t happen all at once and it didn’t happen at all when she was little.

When Clarissa was a little girl, she loved hugging her Mommy and Daddy, her Uncle Bill, and her Aunt Sarah. She held hands with her best friend Emily when they were five. Touch meant love and security. She sat on her Grandpa’s lap when he read to her until she was six and then sat next to him cuddled up against his side after that.

It started happening after she got her first period. Clarissa didn’t know what it was at first. When she hugged her Daddy, she didn’t always feel warmth and caring. Sometimes she felt worry, frustration, and anger.

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The Motive

jack colvin

Actor Jack Colvin who I’ve “cast” in the role of my character Gene Ingram.

“Are you sure you want to do this, Gene?”

Gene Ingram was sitting in a rather uncomfortable office chair which had been placed in the temporal projection chamber, something that looked roughly like a hollowed out egg. At age 48, he had experienced his fair share of heartache and headache which was why he had to do this.

“No, Walter. I don’t want to do this at all, but he killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds more. Most of the time you Feds figure out who they are, what they are, why they did it, what they had for breakfast two years ago last Thursday, everything. With this one, you’ve turned up Nada. I’m your only hope…again.”

Walter Rice was the FBI’s Special Agent in charge of the latest mass murder, this one at a pro-NRA rally in Tampa Bay, Florida (an irony fully enjoyed by everyone who hates the NRA, Republicans in general, and the current President in particular). That was six months ago and in that time, the motives of Graham Jesse Booth were still a mystery. He was neither pro nor anti-gun, in spite of the fact that he had been surrounded by several automatic rifles and semi-automatic handguns when local law enforcement burst into his motel room just as he committed suicide. He was apolitical, only voted in three elections over a thirty year span. There were no indications of violent thoughts or posts in his Facebook and twitter accounts. As far as his family and friends knew, he was a perfectly ordinary and even boring married man, father of four, and grandfather of three.

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Duck Blind

wagon

© 2015 Yinglan Z

Glenn and Marie were told to stay in the backyard and never to go up the rise to where the old wagon rested. Of course precocious eight-year-old twins didn’t listen, so whenever they knew Mommy would be busy cleaning or doing laundry, they went up to play in it.

It was really just a collection of wood with the metal wheels barely hanging on. To everyone else, it was an eyesore, and no one knew why it hadn’t been hauled off years ago.

To Glenn and Marie, it was a pirate’s ship, a rocket to Mars, a submarine that had just found Atlantis.

However, it wasn’t an eyesore, pirate ship, spaceship, or submarine.

Inside the blind, Amnathamarz and Fid examined their last set of mental readings.

“These humans are completely unsuited to our needs. They are completely disorganized, obsessed with technology yes, but such a jumble of images. How can we conquer their race if we can’t understand them?”

True, Fid. We’ve seen enough. Off to the next inhabited solar system.

I wrote this for FFfAW Challenge for this week. The idea is to use the photo above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction from 100 to 175 words, with about 150 being the ideal. My story is 171 words long.

The image inspired a number of ideas, but I settled on the “duck blind” being used by aliens to assess how to best invade our world. However, to do that, they need to understand us as a race, which was difficult if the only people who got close enough to their blind were children.

To read more stories inspired by the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Seeing Means Changing

crash

Photo: Deren Martinez/KTVB

Police said that two people died in the car crash. It certainly seemed like they should have. Only I knew they originally did die, but then, I saw it happen yesterday, before it occurred.

How do you stop a car accident unless you’re involved? Fortunately, one car was driven by an Uber driver and he didn’t have a passenger when I saw the crash in my vision.

So I became the passenger. All I had to do was distract the driver, his name is Gerald, a few seconds before impact, changing the car’s trajectory. Sure, they still hit and they got hurt, but no one died. Gerald even realized that I probably saved his life. He just doesn’t know I did it on purpose.

I got a dislocated shoulder for my trouble, but no one died. The sight, my hereditary gift or curse depending on your perspective, was satisfied.

My name is Brian Vail and I see visions. I wonder what I’ll see next?

The photo above is a real car accident reported here. I like these little “photo challenges,” and since I had just a little time on my hands, I thought I’d give myself one. But what to write about?

I decided to write a flash fiction piece about my character Brian Vail, who I introduced in Tunnel Vision and who subsequently appeared in The Ghost of Natalie Edwards. For both of those stories, I had to write quite a bit to do the set up for the story, but here, I managed just a tiny tale while making it a full story.

Brian Vail next appears in What I See When I Look At You.

The Ghost of Natalie Edwards

From Justin Timberlake -Tunnel Vision

If you haven’t done so yet, please read Tunnel Vision before continuing here.

“I was against Ellis informing you this way, dear Brian, but he was insistant. He felt telling you of the family inheritance before he passed away would make you rather skeptical.”

“That’s putting it mildly, Aunt Sharon. If Uncle Ellis had told me I’d be having visions of dead people beforehand, I’d have thought he’d lost his mind. I’m not even sure that I haven’t lost my mind.”

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