Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Choices

“There must be some mistake!” I cried as I turned to look at him from the rain filled basin. “This can’t be my life!” God just smiled and put his arm around me.

“Well, I guess you better choose the other side of the coin then if you expect to live it another way.”

Monday, June 28, 2010

Great News Today!!!


I found out this morning that the piece I wrote for The Mysterious Dr. Ramsey contest was accepted into the latest 6 Sentence Anthology Book.


Interested in purchasing this fun book of Flash?
Click HERE

Inside the Curious Mind of ME

All I’ve been able to do since watching The Silence of the Lambs today while my kids were napping and Red Dragon last weekend when they were away, is think about the mysterious mind of Dr. Hannibal Lector. He’s always on my mind, sometimes in the front like tonight, and at other times slinking around in the dark shadows and crevices. If ever there was a person that I would want to meet it would be him, don’t ask me why, it’s just an infatuation, or so I keep telling myself. I want to know how his mind works; after all I love his infectious mind games that he plays with the FBI agents and his psychiatrist, it keeps me wanting to know more and why they never really ask is beyond me. I’ve always had a thing for cannibals, and I guess that’s why I love vampires so much… they are so similar yet not so. I wish he had a journal to his mind, something tangible that I could read through, because then maybe I could find the answer to the one question I constantly ask my sick and twisted self: how was it that he became what he was?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Born to Kill

His smell permeated my senses causing me to change targets. A much more primal instinct overtook me and suddenly I could see him standing amidst the large group fighting for the government handouts. Starve the people until the threats could be removed, had been their orders for the last year. The government had seen a drop in morale in the troops, especially those employed that weren’t natural born killers, like me. I was disgusted for having to beg, but still I followed suit until I was standing just behind him; I leaned in close and whispered “gotcha”. His surprised expression never registered to those around him. My kiss on his neck had turned him to stone that simply disintegrated, dust was all that was carried away on the light breeze.

A Lucky Find

I couldn’t get the image out of my mind. It was difficult trying to picture the young boy finding the treasured painting that was hiding up in the attic.


It was a masterpiece, no, not like the masterpieces that we normally think of, but this was the beginning of the mastermind of one of the greatest artists who lived. Antonio Bertatoli, whose grandparents had migrated to the states from Italy shortly after World War II to the ghetto streets of New York, was a legend that would take the world by storm. His paintings amazed even the most reknowned at an early age and it was easy to see why.

A chest found in the attic by this little boy contained the beauty of the young Antonio and all I could do was sit next to the bid chart and draw spirals wondering what the boy thought he was uncovering.

A pair of yellow gloves hung out of my back pocket waiting for me to take them out again in order to place the prized watercolor / charcoal mix into its protective frame.

A nasty thought came to my mind, could I? Was there any way whatsoever that I might possibly? No, this is 2030 after all, there would be no possible way for me to steal the painting and get away with it.

I placed the prized possession in its frame and sealed the vault. Taking my notebook and bid sheet with me, I knew what questions would await from the museum, silently preparing myself with the answers.

While closing and locking the door, I decided to tell them that I needed a raise, and yet, I know that I will be no closer to getting it than the janitor or security guard.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Losing Battle

“Mom, I think you should let me drive today.” She looked at me with those gorgeous blue eyes that were always hard to turn down.

“No way! Why would I ever pass up the option to drive, especially now?” I stubbornly questioned her.

“Just because the cars hover now doesn’t mean you can drive all wreckless.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, you drive like a bat out of hell Mom, and add that to road rage, you can be downright scary to ride with!”

“Well Hun, all I really want to do is see how these hover cars work, and if they are any more fun to drive than the regular old cars.” I whined. I knew I was losing.

“Mom, these aren’t the things of the past that you are used to driving in po dunk USA. I think you should probably take a driving course.”

“Driving Course!” I was appalled, I passed Driver’s Ed with flying colors, granted it was back in 2002.

She sighed, “Well Mom, it is 2030 after all.”

This was inspired by today's Thinking Ten prompt of 2030. Thought I would try something a little different!

Monday, June 21, 2010

A MUST READ!!!

One of my good friends, Richard Godwin, has a piece up @ The NOT right now, called the ICONOCLAST.

This is one of the best pieces of writing that I have ever read and I highly recommend it for EVERYONE to read!

Historical Fiction, Art, Noir, Crime, its all packed in there perfectly.

So what are you waiting for??? Go READ IT NOW!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Personal Business

“Velcome Monsier!”

“Merci, Madam Cochette!”

“Zee, I tol’ jou dat jou ‘ould catch on.”

“Yes, yes, even if it’s only a little.” David didn’t dare admit, but when Mrs. Madelyn Cochette flashed a smile at him, something made him feel slightly uncomfortable. He wasn’t sure if it had something or everything to do with her youthful face, or something else. “You have a beautiful home here Madam.”

“Oh, please, call me Madelyn, et dis is my ‘ome, Le Chateau Cheval Blanc.” She turned on her heel and led him from the parlor to her study. “I ‘ope my doorman greeted jou properly.”

“Yes, yes indeed.” David was hoping to get past all the small talk and to his insurance update for the young Madelyn Cochette quickly in order to get back home to his wife. He had to be frank with himself; he didn’t trust himself around her.

“Can I get jou zomeding to drink David?” Her emerald green eyes seemed to be drawing him in.

David tried to speak, but it came out in a squeak. Clearing his throat, he tried again, “No, I’m quite alright, thank you.”

“Ef jou insist. Now, David, tell me about ze accountz.” The small talk was over it seemed.

David rushed to get through his prepared speech. Madelyn was a good listener and always remembered what he told her. As she questioned him about each detail, he darted glances all over the room, and wondered if he was being recorded.

“David, did jou ‘ere me?”

He snapped out of his thinking trance. “Er, no, I’m sorry.”

“Do jou ‘ave oder dingz on jour mind? We can discuzz dis at anoder time, perhaps?” Her response startled him.

“No, Mrs. Cochette—Madelyn, I mean. This is fine.”

“Are jou zure? I don vant to ve keeping jou vrom someding.”

“No, no, I’m sure I will be fine.” David desperately lied. He had to get out of her house. She was oh so enticing and he didn’t want to cross the client / personal boundary line with such a woman as Madelyn. She was smart, witty, but also destructive – and David didn’t feel like being on her wrong side today.

“Shall ve talk about zomeding else, David? Vat jear vere jou born?” Caught off guard, David stammered for an answer. “Vat jear David?” She commanded.

“Uh…er… 1947.” He finally managed to spit out. What was it about her that made him squirm so?

“Very good David, zuch a great jear 1947 vas.” She smiled to herself and he wondered what she was talking about.

“I guess so, I mean, I wouldn’t really know, you know?”

“Oh David! Ef only jou could ‘ave been dere. Such vundervul musique et danzing. Et vas tres magnifique!”

David wondered what she was talking about. The young Madelyn couldn’t be any older than twenty five and it was 2010 for Christ’s sake.

“Well, I had best be going.” David tried to make a move towards the door, his attempt to hide his discomfort failed.

“No, no, no, David, jou must ztay, I enzist! Ve ztill ‘ave much to talk about.” Her smile had a mischievous tint to it.

“But I think-”

“No, David, do not dink about anyding.” He stood stiffly as she approached and put her hands around his neck. A shiver ran down his spine as she leaned in close and lightly planted two kisses, one on each cheek. Her lips lingered near his ear after the second kiss, “Jour blood David, it zmellz like an old bottle ov vine.”

Before David could think to push her away and make for the door, Madelyn’s deadly fangs sank into his jugular.

David’s last thought as his blood ran dry was: Is this dream a fantasy or a nightmare?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

FFF #33 - The Secret Passage

It was a shortcut that I would regret for the rest of my life, and one that I certainly have done.

No one knew what we were up to or where we went. We always spent our time exploring, and finding new places to check out to make use of our creative minds.

I don’t really remember now how we even stumbled up on the place, just that we did. It had been in the spring / start of summer; we were spending a lot of time outdoors again.

Between my house and hers there was a lot of undeveloped property. Granted we only lived, you know, maybe a little over half a mile from each other if you were lucky, but this made things a lot more interesting and we figured it shortened the distance, even if it was only by just a little.

Behind Charlotte’s house there was a ditch, a large irrigation ditch and just on the other side of that was a large man hole with pipe that ran diagonally from her house to the field about a half a block from mine. What made it really exciting was that it went underground!!! When we had found the pipe to begin with it was an instant hit and we gathered flashlights and headed down below to find out where it went.

The pipe was large at first, large enough for two almost teenage girls to fit through and crawl in. It wasn’t until about oh say a little over half a block before the pipe began to get smaller. There was one spot where it even got so small that we could barely wiggle our way through on our bellies using our elbows as leverage to pull us forward.

Our ‘secret passage’ as we called it was also our hideout. It was pretty cool once you could get past the creepy spider webs and the waves of claustrophobia that hit. We would make sandwiches and hideout from our parents there, from friends we didn’t want to spend time with, or just if we were having a bad day.

Eventually the summer ended and Charlotte and I were expected to head back to school. Throughout the fall we used our shortcut and hideout to travel from each other’s houses, home and back. The following spring there were suddenly big plans to develop part of the field behind Charlotte’s house.

We ignored the large equipment and kept at our usual quests to discover. Never once did we give a second thought about the danger or risks involved in using the “shortcut”.

We both had grown a little and it was even tighter to get through the small pipe opening in the middle where things shrunk considerably, but still we managed.

It was about a week before school was about to start when it happened. We had been talking about the new houses that were being built just behind Charlotte’s house. They were huge and expensive. Worried about school work and home we needed a break; we headed for our secret passage and climbed in. We had sat inside and talked for a little while before deciding to head towards my house.

We had just managed to get to the halfway point where the pipe and us were a tight fit. I yelled back and told Charlotte, “Man, we’re gonna have to stop coming this way, I can barely fit!”

“I think you’re right.” Came the muffled reply.

I was almost through, wiggling as quickly as I could when I heard the roar. We still had a good half a block to go before we reached the next man hole to get out. The noise pounded my ears like thunder striking right outside your window. I heard an “OH GOD” before the rush of cold water hit me from behind. Small spaces scare me a little, but water scares me a lot, combine the two and you have one terrified person. I scrambled, holding my breath to make it through the tight tunnel until I could get out. I had made it to the end and scrambled up the ladder. I clambered over and sat trying to catch my long lost breath on the cement encasement. The minutes seem to drag on waiting for Charlotte to emerge from the tunnel. After waiting what I thought had to be close to ten minutes and not seeing her come out I ran as fast as my thirteen year old legs could carry me to home.

Two hours later with a back hoe, a crew of EMS rescue, firefighters, a water master, and a whole bunch of sheriffs, the skinny part of the pipe was exposed and being cut open with ‘jaws of life’.

I was questioned thoroughly before, during, and after my best friend’s funeral about our adventures in the pipe and suddenly I found myself ever regretting that we had found it.

I mean really, as far as shortcuts go, it actually took us more time in the long run because of all the crawling and wiggling we had to do than to just walk the normal distance on city provided sidewalks.

Each fall I leave a note of I’m sorry with a small piece of pipe that I buy from the hardware store. It serves as memory that I somehow survived when she didn’t and when I shouldn’t have, but other than that I can’t tell you why. Just that it’s a prompting that I have.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Every Breath You Take

The ‘No Trespassing’ sign was dangling from the fence like a bloodied tooth before the final pull. I pushed the gate open to expose the long deserted property that lay behind it. No one knew about this place, and if they did, it was just a memory that had long been forgotten.

I pulled her limp body out of the trunk of my car and walked past the open gate following the well beaten path that wound down into the trees.

***

“Hey Trent, what’s your part in this whole talent show / skit thing?” Ronnie asked. It was hard to hear him above the auditorium full of students on the other side of the curtain.

“I told you Ronnie, the band and I are gonna rock the place!” My enthusiasm was apparent. The band had been over at my house the entire week practicing for this. I was planning on singing to her then giving her a promise ring, I knew she was the girl I wanted to marry. She was perfect.

“STONEHAM HIGH, ARE YOU READY FOR SOME ROCK-N-ROLL?” The announcer shouted.

The whistles and screams were our ‘Q’ and we headed out on stage, Max and Derek with their guitars and Dusty with his drum sticks. I had the mic.

“I’d like to dedicate this song to my girl, Bree!”

The band started up the music and I started in with the lyrics, “Every breath you take, and every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you…”

I could see her face flush when I sang out, “Oh, can’t you see, you belong to me, how my pour heart aches, with every step you take…”

The school was wild when we finished the song and I couldn’t see Bree any longer.

After taking hundreds of bows, the group and I finally made it back stage. On top of all the cases for our equipment I found a stuffed animal along with a hastily handwritten note:

Trent,

I’m sorry, but I can’t be your girlfriend anymore. I’m in love with someone else and I haven’t been able to find a way to tell you. I’m so sorry.

Bree

***

I laid the body down on the cold dirt floor in the cellar underneath the dingy cabin. Her eyes began to flutter and I waited patiently for her to come to.

I smiled down at her. I could hardly hear her whisper, but knew exactly what was said, “Trent.”

“Bree. I’ve waited a long time for this.”

Tears seeped from the corners of her terrified eyes.

“Don’t be scared Bree. You knew something like this would happen, or you should have. How could you have forgotten the song that I sang?” I asked her as I gently stroked her face with the back of my hand. “We were high school sweethearts, and meant to be together forever.”

She struggled to sit up.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” I said as I pushed her back down and stuck her with a needle. Her body went limp again. I continued to explain to her, “You see, I’ve been watching you…”

I reached over her to turn on an old tape player then began to pour colored sand from a bottle into her mouth and down her throat.

As I watched Bree’s life fade, I sang along with the tape, “Since you’ve gone I’ve been lost without a trace, I dream every night where I can only see your face, I look around and it’s only you I can’t replace…”

When the song was finished, along with her life, I packed her sand filled body outside to the old well. I held a moment of silence, then dropped her body into the darkened hole. With new hopes of being able to move past her again, I walked back up the beaten path to the open gate.
----------------------------

Song:
The Police, Every Breath you take

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

FFF #32 Betrayal & Revenge...

So much for plan B, Marci thought to herself as she hit the ground running. Tonight I’m going to kill the bastard!


The apartment she had just left was her best friends, and when she didn’t receive any answer after ringing her intercom, she booked it over to the emergency chute stairs and raced up them. They had been left down for times when Tiff wouldn’t answer the intercom because she had her ear buds in playing too loud.

Marci had climbed the four flights of stairs to Tiff’s window and peered inside. She could hear music coming from the spare bedroom. She slid the window up and climbed through.

***

As Marci rounded the corner near Stoneham High School she tripped on the curb. She had been too busy trying to get the image out of her head that she wasn’t paying attention to her footing.

When Marci had searched the apartment except for the spare bedroom, not sure if someone was staying there or not, and found the place vacant of Tiff, she had no choice left. She hesitated with her hand on the door knob and willing herself forward, Marci pushed open the door. What awaited her was something she never expected. Tiff and Marci’s fiancĂ©, Brad, were going to town. Marci quickly shut the door and without thought raced back to the window and down the chute stairs.

How Marci had made it down the stairs without killing herself was a miracle, but now, sitting on the curb, tears welling in her eyes, Marci tried not to scream with rage as she looked at her ripped pants and skinned knee.

A thought hit her sitting on the curb. There was only one thing in this world that mattered more than any woman, it was that damn pickup. He had taken it to his Gran’s and hid it there so it wouldn’t be hit at the wedding party next week. The damn wedding! Well so much for that too!

Marci picked herself up and took off running again, but this time with purpose in mind.

***

The ‘No Trespassing sign’ was dangling from the fence like a bloodied tooth before the final pull.

Brad had brought Marci to the property many times. He was insistent that she know where all of his family lived and or where they all hung out.

The thick trees gave an eerie feeling, but Marci knew it was just because of what she had in mind.

There were only two large sheds on the property. Coming up on the first, she took a deep breath. Gripping the doors with both hands she heaved backward forcing the doors to open. There is sat, his beauty. The only thing that truly mattered to him, the unfaithful bastard! The shed was full of useful items for what she had in mind to do.

Reaching first for the crowbar that leaned against the wall, Marci took it in hand. Seeing before her eyes the image of two bodies moving together, she took her first swing. The rage within forced her to continue and before long all the windows were smashed and she had left dents all across the body. Flakes of cobalt blue littered the ground and stuck to the crowbar.

A large pair of scissors from the work bench was used to take the leather off the seats. Marci poured paint thinner across the carpet and dumped what was remaining over the engine. A full gas can was placed in the back of the bed and with matches from the corner near the old woodstove; Marci lit the match and threw it into cab of the truck.

Flames roared behind her as she hurried back to the gate.

Climbing over the fence, Marci wondered what Tiff’s excuse for betrayal would be.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Guest Write - Teresa Cortez

Greenpark Glow

Greenpark Radiology was my first full-time job after x-ray school. St. Elmo’s Fire was on VHS video by then, 1986, the theme song often playing on the radio as I drove to Houston’s Medical Center in the mornings, I can see a new horizon/Underneath the blazin’ sky / I’ll be where the eagles / Flyin’ higher and higher...

The movie and song underscored the selfish passions and short-sightedness of most 22 year-olds. The film characters were my age, their whole lives ahead of them, luminous particles, blue flames. I never thought beyond their invincibility.

I learned I was pregnant with my first child during the first week on the job. My manager, Randy, wasn’t thrilled. I assured him I was just as surprised as he was and that the pregnancy wouldn’t affect my job performance. He gave me a "we’ll see" look as we discussed the details of radiation exposure during pregnancy and how much maternity leave I could take.

I kept my promise and worked just as hard as anyone else. I wore heavy lead aprons and lifted 14x17 cassettes which weighed at least a pound each; there were six to ten of these necessary for every barium enema we performed, plus a few 10x12's and 11x14's, all juggled in a rush before the patient lost barium all over the room. It wasn’t easy work.

When not in fluoroscopy I worked in mammography. The job wasn’t physically taxing but required more sensitivity; patients often came in scared, either of the procedure itself or the possibility of cancer. When I was eight weeks pregnant a patient came in with a lump in her breast. Her situation was complicated by the fact that she was also eight weeks pregnant. We worked carefully around her pregnancy, the delicate first trimester, a critical stage of development and sensitivity to radiation.

The patient’s name was Pam. She was 29 years old, tall with thick dark hair past her shoulders. As I wrapped the lead apron around her pelvis we talked about our pregnancies. She’d struggled for ten years to conceive. Her baby was a miracle.

Both of Pam’s breasts felt abnormally firm but I figured this was due to pregnancy changes. Then her films emerged from the processor showing tiny flecks, like sand, scattered throughout both breasts.

I took the images to the radiologist, Dr. Gregg, "Is this what I think it is?"

"Inflammatory breast cancer? Yes, I’m sorry to say," then he called Pam’s obstetrician to discuss the terrible diagnosis.

There are many types of breast cancer and Pam had the most aggressive type. She was young and full of pregnancy hormones which would ignite the cancer as a lit match to straw. Her prognosis was grim.

Pam’s doctors recommended she have both breast removed and undergo chemotherapy. They would have to take the baby. I was devastated for her. She didn’t deserve this. No one did.

Randy was missing a lot of work around this time. He was openly homosexual and cases of AIDS were increasing. We feared the worst but were prepared when he returned to work and announced that he was indeed infected with the disease but taking AZT. It was supposed to be the new miracle drug.

Randy had hidden his sexual orientation at his previous job, even going so far as to have a picture of a dead woman on his desk claiming it was his fiancée. He "came out" just before taking the management job at Greenpark . But he never came clean with the lies he told about his childhood, claiming to have grown up with a nanny in a mansion and to have attended prestigious boarding schools, etc. He told us his well-to-do parents were dead.

The AZT took its toll. It made Randy too sick to work, leaving him wilted in the file room on a fold-up chair. "I can’t do this," he’d say.

During his last day before taking a leave of absence he said while slumped against a countertop in the employee lounge, "When you wake up every morning, you better live for yourself . Put yourself first ."

His words made me uncomfortable but I agreed to follow his advice. He later removed a few personal items from his desk, photos of exotic vacations, happier times, and placed them carefully in a cardboard box. Dr. Gregg and another technologist helped him carry his things to the elevator. Randy and I waved to one another as the doors were closing. I never saw him again.

***

A decorator was hired to redo a small room we weren’t using at Greenpark. She hung stunning wallpaper, replaced the carpet with a warmer, softer plush. She put two wingback chairs in far corners of the room, a round table and small lamp between them. It was now the nicest room in the suite and labeled "the news room", the place where patients received their mammogram results.

I watched as the final finishing touch was added, a small dried flower arrangement placed on the small table. I was mentally preparing myself to make the call for my own HIV results; I’d asked to be tested due to the pregnancy and paranoia of the times. I made the call from a payphone outside our office, terrified after watching Randy’s nightmare. I thought of him, now living at home in Dallas with parents who weren’t dead after all. They weren’t well-to-do. They’d never lived in a mansion, hired nannies or placed their son in any sort of boarding school. Randy’s whole life had been a lie.

"Hello ma’am?" the voice on the phone asked.

"Yes?" I swallowed hard and watched people enter and exit the elevator nearby.

"Your results were negative."

***

Life remained busy at Greenpark and my pregnancy was coming to an end. I continued to work hard, thankful to be busy which took my mind off the challenging last weeks with ankles that looked like tree trunks wearing shoes. When it was possible I sat in the lounge and put my feet up. It was during one of these breaks that the front desk called to say I had a visitor waiting in the front lobby.

I waddled up front and opened the lobby door. I recognized only my visitor’s face. I asked her to come with me to the news room where Pam and I sat together in the soft lamplight. She was as pregnant as I was.

"I decided to have the bilateral mastectomy but no chemotherapy. I’m due in two weeks," she said, smiling and rubbing her large round belly.

I had no words at first, then smiled and congratulated her, struggled to hide what we both knew, that her decision was bittersweet.

***

Pam no doubt lost her battle with cancer. Her daughter would be the same age as my own. I’d love to tell her how honorable her mother’s courage was, her example in the face of a terrifying and unfair illness. She could have focused on the storm in her life but instead kept her eyes on the faint glow most visible in low-light, the luminous blue-violet flames.

Teresa Cortez is a freelance writer who lives in Sugar Land, Texas. She writes nonfiction because real life is strange enough. You can view more of her work HERE.