Website Inspiration

Ever get stuck on trying to find those unique ways to bring your characters or locations to life?  Here are a few websites and ideas of how to use them when you are stuck, or if you just want to add that bit of realism.  These are just the tip of the iceberg.  Please leave your own ideas in the comments.

Use to research job opportunities for characters with skills you need them to have.

Visit cupid or match or eharmoney to see how people reveal themselves to complete strangers to get a word of the day to give your character something new to say.

Wikipedia with its random search for new topics that make their way into your work. for not only real houses in an area, but pictures inside people’s houses to give you description ideas.

Urban Dictionary to pull in a new slang term that might inspire you.

Life, the Universe, and Everything

Ever wonder if we are not a part of something bigger?  By bigger I don’t mean your church or work.  That does give one the sense of something bigger, but not big enough.  What I am thinking is bigger than being part of a country, or a particular ethnic group.  It is probably bigger than the planet and solar system itself.

I am going to use your body for a second to set up what I am thinking about.  You are made up of roughly 37.2 trillion cells.  That means what makes you you are 37.2 trillion living beings that work together to live in partnership.  That partnership allows you to eat, love, and experience life.  Now your liver cells might not even know of the cells in your femur.  They would be an undiscovered country waiting to be explored, except hopefully your liver cells are homebodies and they stay with the rest of their kind in their segregated neighborhood.   So individual cells live, eat, reproduce and die all the time.  You don’t notice because as long as the status quo is maintained you just continue to exist.

Now take this model, but expand it to the universe.  I’m not trying to initiate anything religious here.  I just want you to imagine that you are one cell in something that is much bigger than you.  You don’t even need to know what that role is, but what you continue to do would be important.  I mean, you could be the appendix of this greater thing, but chances are you wouldn’t be.  Now that is quite provocative to me.

The best part is we probably will never know.  Much like that liver cell who only knows the environment that surrounds it, so are we if this is true.  We might never be able to surmise what role we take part in this community of life.  While that saddens me, it does give me one cool thought/hope.  If this is the case then life would be abundant throughout the universe, and as such we will find other parts out there.  It would be like that liver cell finally deciding to go exploring.  I just hope if we do that we don’t become the cancer.

A Writer’s Dilema

Slowly the world resolved itself and Dorothy walked out of the house.  “Crap,” she said, noticing the feet sticking out from underneath the house, “I’m going to need a lawyer.”


‘Do you want to play a game?’

David reached behind the computer and flicked the switch.  “No, not really,” he said.


“Life is like a box of chocolates, you eat the whole box then puke them up,” said Forrest.

“Why do you say that?” asked the African American woman sitting on the bench next to him.

Forrest pukes in her lap.  “Because it hurt my tummy,” he said.



I look at my computer screen.  “I can’t even write good fan fict!  Time to hang it up,” I say to myself as I push away from the computer.  I pause before getting up.  “Then again, maybe one more try.”



Dr. Who stepped out of the tardis and into the hot African jungle.  The man in front of him seemed to go blue with streaks of lightning for a moment.  As the man looked around, trying to get his bearings Dr. Who said, “Dr. Beckett I presume?”

Dr. Becket replied, “Oh boy.”


I smile.  “I’ve still got it baby,” I say and dive back in.


The Unexpected Gift

Gertrude held the present in two hands and gently shook it.  The pink ribbon swayed in the handmade breeze, but the blue and white stripped cube made no other concessions to her senses.  She put it back down and stared at it, wishing she had Superman’s version of x-ray vision.

“Come on Gertie, just open it,” said Brantley.  He was like a kid at Christmas, except it wasn’t his present to open.  That made him even cuter than normal, especially when he was dressed up with his purple bowtie that almost made his blue eyes look that same shade of purple.  Normally she would be taking off his glasses and suggesting they eat in tonight, but this darn package just bothered her.

Brantley had found the package with no return address on her doorstep when he stopped by to pick her up for dinner.  Opening it up revealed the present and one of those lame happy birthday novelty tags with her Gertrude’s name and no other information. It wasn’t even close to her birthday, and she really couldn’t think of who would send her a random gift, beside Brantley of course.  This was a true suprise.

Gertrude didn’t like surprises.  That probably had to do with her floating through various group homes and foster families until the age of seventeen. Surprises usually meant packing up and heading out, or even worse, you find out your new “family” wasn’t all it was promised it would be.  Or there would be bonus possible unwanted male attention.  That sent a physical shudder down her spine.

Brantley noticed that.  “Are you okay?” he asked.

Gertrude banished those memories back down deep where the light of conscious thought rarely shown. “I’m fine.  Just a bit of excited about going out on our date tonight,” she said hopefully convincingly.  She looked into his eyes and put on a genuine smile.  Those eyes were so damn cute.  Okay, she meant what she said about being excited now.

“Well we can get going after you open it, Gertie,” Brantley said.  “I really want to see what you got.”

“We can open it later,” Gertrude said.  “Unless you were the one who left it.”  She let her voice trail off, hoping that he would confess.

Brantley shook his head.  “Nope, not this time.  Come on.  You must be curious, at least a little.”

Gertrude couldn’t shake her sense of dread.  “Listen, why don’t we go out and then I’ll open it when you drop me off.  I don’t want to be late for our reservation.”

“Really Gertie?  You want it to wait?  Come on, this is killing me,” Brantley said.

“Killing you?” Gertrude asked.  “It’s not even your present.”

“Gertrude, open the present,” Brantley said.

Gertrude looked into Brantley’s eyes.  They seemed even more purple now, but not at all cute.  Another shiver escaped down her spine.  Brantley noticed this one too and deflected his gaze at his hands.

“I’m sorry Gertie,” Brantley said.  “It’s just as a kid growing up I always wanted someone to leave me a mystery present and inside have it be something cool that I always wanted.  Maybe even something magical.”  His eyes danced at the thought.

“I don’t believe in magic,” Gertrude said.  The sparkle in Brantley’s eyes died.  Gertrude immediately wished he hadn’t said anything.  She decided to smooth things over.  “What kinds of things did you want?” she asked.

“Oh the usual boy stuff.  A new baseball mitt signed by Rodger Clemens,” Brantley said.  He paused for a second and laughed a bit.  “Of course that was before the whole steroids thing.  Then there was a new synthesizer.  I was going to be a rock star.  If I could have had a staff like what Gandalf had, now that would have been cool.  Of course in high school the best would be a cute red headed girl’s phone number.”

Gertrude involuntarily reached up and touched her raven ringlets.  Brantley saw that and immediately continued.  “That was a phase I was going through,” he said.  “Now I appreciate a woman’s smile and who she truly is inside.  That is the essence of magic to me today.”  He reached over the cursed present and stroked her cheek.  “I got lucky and found a wonderful woman who has beauty to go with that smile and that something magical inside.”

A blush bloomed on Gertrude’s cheeks.  What did I do to deserve such a wonderful charming guy?  What did such an amazing man ever see in her?  She leaned forward and kissed him gently on his lips.  There was almost a spark of electricity that passed between them.

“Okay, on that note let’s get going,” he said.  With one fluid motion he was standing and reaching into his pocket.  “We can eat dinner and maybe catch a show.  We can wait till I drop you off.”

Gertrude summoned up her resolve.  “Nope, I’ll open it first, then we can go.”

“Don’t do it,” Brantley said.  “I was being a jerk.”

“Nope, I was making a big thing out of nothing,” Gertrude said.  “I have nothing to be afraid of because I have you here with me.  There’s no need to worry about surprises because I have my big knight in shining armor.”

Gertrude caught an almost guilty look pass across Brantley’s face so she quickly stood and gave him a hug.  “Really.  I love you,” she said.  He stiffened.  Crap, went too far.  Time to do more damage control.  “Let’s see what my mysterious benefactor left for me,” she continued.

Gertrude moved back to the couch and undid the bow.  She smiled and twirled the bow in the air.  Brantley watched her, a small smile bloomed.  Next she pulled back the wrapping paper, trying to preserve it the best she could.  Folding it nicely and setting it next to her she then turned her attention to the present box itself.

“Well?” Brantley asked.  It startled her since he had come up close while she had been folding the wrapping paper.  To cover her surprise she picked up the package and put it in her lap.  She slid her nail along the tape, separating the two box flaps.  She opened up the flaps while holding her breath.  Inside she was what looked like a photo album.

“Well? “ Brantley asked again.

Gertrude took the photo album out of the box and placed the box on top of the wrapping paper.  “Don’t know.” She said as she opened the book.  The first page was a birth certificate for a girl who weighed seven pounds, four ounces on May twenty-fifth, nineteen eighty-two.  The name on the certificate was Cassandra Powel.

“Who is that?” asked Brantley.

“I don’t know,” Gertrude said.  “I wonder if this is for one of my neighbors.”  She closed up the book.

Brantley looked at the book with a look of hunger.  “The tag had your name on it,” he said.  “Maybe it will make sense if you look a bit more.”

Gertrude held the book tight.  “I think this is a really bad idea.  Let’s go to dinner.  I shouldn’t have opened it now.”

“Look, you’re frazzled,” Brantley said.  “I’ll order takeout and we can pick up a movie from Redbox.  This way you can have a chance to detox.”

“I would rather go out,” Gertrude said.  When she heard the words come out of her mouth she knew that that lie would never stand on its own.  “Okay, maybe takeout is good.  I’ll take Szechuan.”

“Okay, I’ll call it in and we can go get it,” Brantley said.

Gertrude shook her head.  “You’re right.  I’m frazzled.  Why don’t you go get it and I’ll just detox here.  This way the evening won’t be a total loss,” she said.

Gertrude could tell that Brantley wanted to say more, but he knew there was nothing more he could say without destroying the rest of the evening.  “Okay, he said, “I’ll be right back.  Don’t do anything crazy without me.”

“I think I was crazy enough already,” Gertrude said.

Brantley put on his cutest smile, leaned in, and kissed Gertrude.  This time the kiss was almost cold, but Gertrude hid her reaction.  That smile had lost a lot of firepower all of a sudden.

“Love you, Gertie” Brantley said.  He then tuned and let himself out the front door, leaving Gertrude holding onto the album, still stuck on the couch.

Gertrude counted to ten before she opened back up the album.  The second page was a series of baby pictures.  They were all solo pictures with no hint of another being present, except for the record of the photos themselves.  Page after page chronicled the child getting older.  Still no other human being was depicted.  Suddenly Gertrude lost her breath.  The girl had grown into her!  She remembered that outfit.  It was her favorite purple dress that she wore every other day to kindergarten.  The pages almost turned on their own.  Picture after picture of her caught in various candid moments on her own.  All the towns, all the different houses, all her and only her on each page.

Gertrude flipped to the first page again and read aloud the name on the birth certificate, “Cassandra Powel.”  It sounded so natural to her.  She looked at the box.  Inside was still a note and a small box that had been hidden by the larger album.  She took out the box and opened it.  There was a silver heart locket on a thin chain.  The locket didn’t want to open, so she set it aside and looked at the paper.  Unfolding it she revealed a hand written letter with an old polaroid picture of a woman who looked so much like Gertrude, but with a lot more wear and tear on her face..

Dear Cassandra,

I really should say dear Gertrude, but that was supposed to be just your middle name, an honor to your grandmother.  I’m sorry I have to give this to you now.  After so many years of only allowing myself to catch a glimpse of you now and then I had planned to stop in and finally introduce myself.  I used to imagine your reaction from finally meeting your mother.  I would fear the revulsion or rejection.  I would get excited about the acceptance and unconditional love.  So many possibilities, so many different ways it would work out in my mind.  I’m now worried though that they have almost caught me.  This is so dangerous Cassandra.  Every time I snuck to see you I knew there was a chance that they would find you.  If they did, everything would have been lost.  As it is I worry they might already have their sights on you.  I wish I was there to help you through the pain you are about to endure, but you must take up the burden on your own.  Put on the locket and all will be revealed.  If I can I will come to you, but if they do finally catch me know that I die with my love for you as my grave shroud.


Malissa Flandiss.


Gertrude looked at the locket and wondered what made it so important.  Just then she heard the front door open.  Gertrude quickly hid the locket and letter away in her pocket.

She stood up as Brantley entered the room carrying the takeout bags.  “No plates?” Brantley asked.

“Sorry, decompressing,” Gertrude said.

“Right.  So you weren’t looking through the album while I was gone,” Brantley said.

“I’ll go get the plates,” Gertrude said as she brushed past Brantley and went to the kitchen.  As she pulled plates from the cupboard she pulled back out the locket and looked at it again.  Did she really want to put it on?  What would happen?

Brantley came into the kitchen and saw the locket.  “Where did you get that Gertie?” he asked.  His eyes never left the silver heart.

Gertrude felt like she was being violated by the way he focused on the locket.  “It was in the box,” she said.

“Can I see it Gertie?” Brantley asked.  His voice seemed off, and his purple eyes almost seemed to glow with a reddish tinge.

Gertrude held the locket closer to her, defensively.  “Brantley, you are scaring me.”

Brantley looked at her, but that other him didn’t really go away.  “I’m sorry.  It’s just that looks really, well I just want to see it,” he said.  For every slow step forward he took, Gertrude took one back until she felt the sink behind her.

“Don’t be silly, Gertie,” Brantley said.  “Just let me see the necklace.”  That voice was so distorted in her ears.  Every hair on her arms was standing and felt like they were screaming like the painting by Munch.

Brantley took another step forward and that snapped Gertrude into action.  She went to put the necklace on as Brantley screamed, “No!”  He moved faster than she thought he could, but he could only grab the locket as the chain settled around her neck and shoulders.

The world exploded into fire.  Her mind heard the voices of thousands of people at once.  The odd thing was she could make out each in turn and while the initial cacophony was deafening and confusing, it suddenly all made sense.  She knew who she was and the family she had come from.  The knowledge of generations settled upon her and took residence.  Family members from recent and far past all welcomed her into the fold.  It was as if all the memories for generations had taken up residence inside her mind.  They told her many things, but especially of the creatures that would come looking for her and the locket.  The creatures with the purple eyes.

Gertrude snapped back to the now and Brantley growled at her.  His hand was smoking where he held the locket, but he didn’t let go.  He looked at her with those purple inhuman eyes filled with hate.

“Give me the locket,” Brantley said.  His teeth grew longer and she swore he grew like two inches and a hundred pounds of muscle.

Gertrude felt fear like she had never felt, even in those dark moments she had recently reburied.  She felt so overwhelmed that she almost just gave up, but when that thought surfaced the family she just had been introduced to screamed a collective NO.  Suddenly her muscles had memories that only a lifetime, or in this case multiple lifetimes could have mastered.  She stepped into Brantley, crashing her heel into his foot while spinning and bringing her foot up and into Brantley’s jaw, snapping his head back.  The momentum tore the locket from his hand and caused him to take a step back to regain his balance.

Gertrude settled into a balanced fighting stance.  Brantley spit out a tooth onto the floor.  “I’ll take that as a no,” he said.  “Too bad.  I was looking forward to having you for dinner tonight.  Take care, Gertie.  I honestly hoped you weren’t going to be the one.”  With that he turned and left.

“My name is Cassandra and I was hoping you would have been the one,” she said to no one as the front door closed.  “What have I gotten myself into?”

A voice in her head said, “This is just the beginning.”

For once Cassandra didn’t worry about what surprises may come.  She had at last found where she belonged.

Family Problems part 7

I got off on the eighth floor and headed for Miss Myer’s apartment.  I stopped in front of her door and put on a blank face.  I wanted to be ready for whatever game it was going to be today.  I politely knocked twice, then a pause, then three more times.  The TV was blaring from the other side of the door and I was worried that she didn’t here me.  I was just about to start it out again when the door opened a crack and the noise from the TV escaped.  I love The Jefferson’s as much as the next guy, but “Weezy! ” at one hundred twenty decibels is a bit more than a man should have to take.

I thought I saw Miss Myer before the door slammed closed.  I scrambled to put my earplugs in before the door opened again.  This time when it did George Jefferson was down to the level of a jet engine.  Miss Myer waved me in and I happily obliged.

To say that Miss Myer was nondescript was quite the understatement.  Other than her age you would be hard pressed to pick her out of a crowd, or even a portrait.  My dad liked them that way these days.  She yelled at me over the blaring TV.  “I was worried you wouldn’t come in time.”

Not come in time?  “What’s wrong?  Where…”

Miss Myer cut me off before I could get any farther.  “I think the bug is in the bedroom.  It’s right through that door over there.”  She pointed towards the kitchen, away from her bedroom.  Like I said, you needed to play the game.

“I’ll get right on it.  Let me see what I can do.”  I make a beeline to the kitchen and look at the two windows.  Which one did I think was the correct one today.  I look back at the living room, but Miss Myer had gone back to watching TV.  She wasn’t going to be any help.  The problem is if I get this wrong I won’t be able to see the old man until he called me again.  Normally I am okay with that, but I had already come this far I didn’t want to have to come back.

A few seconds later I thought about what my dad had actually said in his message.  He wanted help mowing the lawn.  I looked at the two windows and realized only one pointed at anything resembling a lawn.  The other was on the side of the parking lot for hell.   That’s right, hell has parking.  How else did you think you got there?  The hand baskets are booked for the next thirty years or so, causing the line from hell.  Hell, what do you think purgatory really is.  Oh it goes to the other place too, but for some reason these days that line is much shorter.  I have this on good authority by my Aunt Connie.  I mean family never lies to you, do they?

I opened the window I selected and sure enough there was a sling right outside the window.  You needed to be brave when visiting my old man.  That and not be afraid of heights.  I just hoped that dad had this one secured better than last time.  Mrs. Smithfield almost had to have another pacemaker installed after that one.  I tied myself as best I could, said a prayer to anyone who was listening on the airwaves and let myself out the window.

I realized this might not have been the best idea after the first few minutes of dangling in space.  At least it seemed that way as I waited for my dad to beam me up.  I thought about trying to swing back into the window when I finally felt the harness jerk me upward.  The sounds of gears trying their darndest to bring me to the roof before they returned to the metal dust they had been forged from was not music to my ears, but trust builds character.

When my head cleared the roof line I saw my dad at the controls of the small motor powering his winch.  He waved at me.  That would have been nice, but when he let go of the lever to do so it allowed the motor to turn off, and as it became obvious to me, the safety was not engaged.  I plunged back down below the roofline at a very alarming rate.  Of course the only alarm was me screaming like a little girl on the homemade version of the tower of terror ride, except there were no Tinkerbell going to sprinkle pixie dust on me and make me fly.  Luckily my dad must have kicked the winch back on.  I now have empathy for what a marlin must feel like when hooked.  Unlike the marlin I was very happy to be made catch of the day.

100 Word Story #8 Pressure Bomb

Time was not on Bruce’s side.  The bomb could go off any minute.  He tried to go over his training.  Keep it simple.  Use your checklist.  Don’t panic.  The bomb is able to sense your panic.

Bruce blanked on the checklist.  He knew it just moments ago.  How much time did he have left?  Was he starting to panic?  Maybe he could move it to a new location.  Bruce nervously picked up the bomb.

Warning sirens sprang up.  Come on, think.  That’s when it hit him, change the diaper, feed, then burp.  Too bad the baby had exploded into screaming.


100 Word Post # 7 Cliff Hanger

Only Brandon kept Katheryn from falling from the cliff.  She clung to his hand with both of hers, thinking the bond between them unbreakable.  This lie was slowly fading as the life blood keeping that grip alive ebbed out the open wound of Brandon’s heart.

“I said I was sorry,” Katheryn said for like the twentieth time while hanging there.  “Don’t let me go.”

“You and Corey stab me in the heart, and you expect me to stay?” Brandon asked.

With that he let go and walked away as Katheryn fell off her emotional cliff and crashed into pain below.

Justice and Retribution (A Lost Hope Story)

The Man walked out of the mists, Retribution sheathed on his hip.  Lost Hope materialized from a gas lamp lump of light attempting to fight back the evening fog and never really making much progress.  The buildings here almost waved in the slight breeze that carried the smell of cheap liquor and even cheaper despair.

Tobias had been waiting here for the Man, leaning on his staff for strength.  He was always a bit spooked by the eyes of the Man that were just black and white, exactly how the Man saw the world.  Tobias wished he didn’t have to work with the Man, but he had no choice this time.

“Why did you summon me?” asked the Man.  His voice was a whisper, but carried with the force of a thrown sledgehammer.

“We have a killer here,” Tobias said.

The Man snarled.  “You called me for that?  Bah!”  The Man turned and began to walk back into the mists.

Tobias wanted so badly to just let him go.  He could let the Man walk off into myth and legend.  He would then tell the council he had tried.  But then the thoughts of the families and he couldn’t keep his voice silent.  “Six murders, all women and children,” he said.

The Man stopped in his tracks.  Without turning around he said, “And?”

“All of them blinded before having their left hand chopped off,” Tobias spit out.  Just speaking of the atrocities chilled Tobias to the bone.

The Man turned around and walked back silently to stand in front of Tobias.  Tobias stared the Man in his eyes, but refused to say more, wishing he was anywhere but here.

The Man finally blinked his weird eyes and drew Retribution out of its sheath.  The sword glowed with a blood red light.   The mists seemed to retreat from it, and Tobias wished he could join them, but he stood his ground.

“Retribution has been drawn.  It will not return to its sheath until the killer is dead,” stated the Man.  The Man didn’t wait for a response from Tobias and walked into town, looking at everything through the red glow of Retribution.

Tobias turned to watch the Man, but didn’t move to follow.  He helped bring the Man here, but he wasn’t going to stay and see what happened.  He hobbled into the mists using his staff and whistling, making sure anything from Hell that followed the Man knew he was there.  Maybe heaven would have mercy on his soul, but the deal was made with the devil and he didn’t want to be there when the bill came due.


The Man walked into town, Retribution sweeping back and forth.  No other people came out to witness the spectacle.  The Man walked the street alone until he came upon something that even his unseeing eyes widened in horror.  Six people were staked to a crude wooden fence, their left hands scattered on the ground in front of them.  Most were dead, but one boy still cried what little life he had inside out, one tear at a time.  That was when the first shot rang out.  The musket ball hit the Man in the shoulder spinning him around to face the next six shots that were fired from the rooftops of the adjacent buildings.  The Man staggered under the impact of the onslaught and Retribution almost slipped from his hand.  Another volley sounded out and the Man fell back onto the ground.  Retribution’s glow intensified as the Man gasped to breathe through lead riddled lungs.

A man wearing a law badge came out of the building across from the macabre fence.  “How does it feel now?” he asked.  The Man’s reply was swallowed by the blood competing with the air leaving his lungs.  Retribution continued to glow more brightly.  The lawman walked close, but made sure to stay just out of the Man’s reach.  “No one is above the law of man, especially not one of the Fallen,” said the lawman.

The Man lifted Retribution and pointed it at the lawman.  The lawman pulled out his six shooter and in rapid succession fired six more bullets into the Man.  Retribution fell back to the ground, but the Man still held onto the sword and kept on breathing.

“Gary, you need to use the boy before he dies,” a voice called out from behind the fence.  The Man turned his head to see a man wearing a priest’s collar cutting the boy away from the fence.  The boy fell face first to the ground with a sickening thud.

The lawman, Gary, moved around the Man and scooped up the boy.  “My God, Brent, don’t make the pour boy suffer more than he has to,” Gary said.

Brent pulled at his collar.  “Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, Gary.  You don’t want to be damned for eternity.”

“And this hasn’t done it already?” Gary asked as he dropped the boy nearly on top of Retribution.  The Man began to writhe in pain, but he still held Retribution, its glow now driving back not only the mists, but the gaslights as well.  The holes in his chest seemed to be closing in the blood red light.

“Sometimes the innocent must be sacrificed to kill a greater evil,” said Brent.  “And ridding creation of a Fallen is a greater honor.  The sacrificed will dance on his grave in paradise.”

The Man looked at Brent and growled in his whisper voice. “You will never see paradise.”

Brent began to weep blood.  He blinked back those tears and shouted, “Satan, get behind me!”  The Man propped himself up on the hand not holding Retribution.

The Man heard a metallic click and looked back just as Gary let loose with another six shots from his second gun.  That put the Man back on the ground, but Retribution was now almost humming power as it became blinding.

Gary leaned over the boy who was breathing his last few breaths.  “God will wipe away your tears.”  With that he reached over and grabbed the hand of the Man that held Retribution.  The lawman picked up the Man’s hand and raised it over the boy.  The Man screamed as the blade plunged down through the boy’s heart, pinning the boy’s corpse to the ground.  The sound of a thunderclap sounded and Retribution broke in half.  The Man stopped his screaming and closed his black and white eyes forever.

“We are saved!” yelled Brent.  “Praise the Lord!”


Tobias listened to the thunderclap as it reverberated off the distant hills. He wondered if Lost Hope was now saved, or damned to yet another hell.  No matter what, he wasn’t going to stay around to figure it out.  These were not his sheep anymore.  It was time to find a new shepherd.  He hobbled on, his staff Justice in his hand to help him on his way.

Fighting Illusions

I looked into the unblinking eyes of my enemy.  My arm swung my weapon into position, seemingly of its own volition.  I retreated further into my mind to let my body continue its program.

I had never wanted to fight.  Well, that’s not really true.  There was a time when I was young and foolish when I romanticized the concept of proving my superiority physically.  Okay, I was young and foolish and on my arse after Mary Kay knocked me there for trying to steal a kiss, but that was not why I was here now fighting for freedom.

Freedom is an illusion that needs belief to exist.  That was my belief since I was twenty and arrested for defying my government’s call to arms for defending a country on the other side of the world, all in the name of preserving peace.  I couldn’t figure out then how war preserves peace.  My freedom was not believed by the people who imprisoned me, and therefore my illusion was shattered.

Illusion is one of the oldest forms of magic.  The ability to focus the audience’s attention on what was not important allows the illusionist to do things that seem impossible.  That’s why I joined up as soon as was released from prison.  Keep them looking the other way, allowing me to create an illusion where I had given up my freedom, but secretly I allowed them to run my body so I could keep the freedom of my mind.

Now here I was, my gun in hand, pointed at my enemy.  I kept waiting for the training to kick in, to make me more of a machine that was primed to kill.  Then I watched my enemy sink to the ground, a red stain blooming from his chest.  I then dropped my gun and decorated it with this morning’s eggs.   My illusion shattered, the thought I had while sinking to my knees was, ‘Is it possible to be unprogrammed?’

Family Problems part 6

The elevator doors opened and there was no one inside.  Maybe my luck was going up as well.  I pressed the four button and the doors closed as elevator began its uplifting hum.  Someone a while back had completely destroyed what had passed for a speaker so the elevator’s motor was the only thing you had to listen to while you crawled up the floors.  I probably could have walked faster up the stairs, but in this heat they would have found my desiccated husk on the third floor.

I got off the elevator and headed to apartment four twenty one.  I was just about to knock when the door opened and Archibald stuck out his head.  “Come on in and have a beer.”  Archibald was a nose that happened to have a head attached.  He is the nicest guy on this planet, but watch out if he’s about to sneeze.  He pulled back his nose and waved me in.  “Hurry up.  Gladys should be done in just a second.”

I entered their tidy apartment and headed for the fridge.  “Who’s she doing now?”  I grab two bottles and head back into the living room.

Archibald closed the door, but didn’t lock it.  He took one of the beers and grinned.  “The Joneses.  She thinks she can convert them to Christianity.”

I almost choked on the beer I had just swigged.  “But you guys are Jewish.”

Archibald shrugged.  “What can I say, she doesn’t like them.  Something about playing their polka music too loud so she can’t sleep.”

I shook my head.  “But they live on the second floor, right?”

Archibald nodded.  “Apartment two forty three to be exact.”  I began to say something but he cut me off.  “I told you, she doesn’t like them.  Besides, if we’re wrong then she’s saving them, which might help us then.  It could be worse.”

“And that would be?” I asked.

“I don’t want to know.  I just know it could be.”  He downed his beer in one swig and handed me the empty.  “Put that away so she doesn’t know I had it.”

“Not a problem.  Mind if I grab something to eat out of the fridge?”   I watched as he goes back to looking out the peephole in the door.  No porch, so Archibald watches his neighborhood throw the small glass fisheye in the door.  It’s his thing, and it makes him happy, so who am I to rain on his parade.

“Do you think she’ll let you leave without stuffing you full of something?” he asked.

I smiled because I knew that would be the answer.  I downed my beer as well and put it in the bag of empties.  I then rummaged through the fridge looking for treasure.

I heard the door open.  A woman’s voice, almost as low as Archibald’s filled the air.  “Larry, deary, I have some brisket in the back on the first shelf, and my homemade horseradish mayo’s in the bottle next to it.  Help yourself.”

I took out the aforementioned food and grabbed a loaf of homemade pumpernickel from the cupboard.  Gladys swept into the kitchen, surveyed her domain, and smiled at what she saw.  She was a demure woman, and even though she was in her late sixties, at least that’s what she claimed, she was still the same weight as the day she married Archibald.  It was something she was very proud of.  “I am having such a wonderful day.”

Archibald followed her, but didn’t look as happy.  “How did you know Larry was here?  I was going to surprise you.”

Gladys rubbed her husband’s tummy like asking for luck from Buddha.  “I could smell the beer on your breath.  The only way you would do that was if someone had come over.  Larry was a logical choice since he would want to check up on his money.”

“I didn’t stop here to see about the money.”  I smothered a good amount of the horseradish mayo on the pumpernickel before loading on the brisket.  I guess I didn’t miss lunch after all.  “I was just in the neighborhood and I thought I would stop in and see how you were doing.”

Gladys takes out the two beer bottles I had stashed in the recycling and brings them to the sink.  “Larry deary, you need to rinse out the bottles before putting them away.  I don’t want my house to smell like a brewery.”  She turned her attention back to Archibald.  “Why don’t you get what I put aside the other day.”

Archibald was not a happy camper about that.  “But that was going to be for the car.”

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head.  Just go get it.”  Archibald left the room and Gladys put the bottles back.  I bit into my sandwich watching her in action.  I almost felt sorry for Archibald, or anyone else including Lance Armstrong to keep up with this woman once she got started.  She was a force of nature unto herself.  “When I borrowed that money from you for Chauncey’s problem I forgot I had stashed this away to get the car fixed.”

Chauncey’s little problem was that he liked the ladies a bit too much, especially women named Sergeant Lucille Cunningham who was testing out her street walker costume way before Halloween.  I saw the sergeant, and Chauncey had good tastes, but really poor instincts.  Especially since he had just scored with his junkie for enough weed to party hard for a while.  Gladys needed help getting a bondsman to put up the bond to get her boy out of jail while waiting his trial.  For some reason Chauncey’s wife didn’t want to help.  Go figure.  Chauncey was probably in a food coma in the other room.  Gladys wanted to spend as much time as she could with her son before he was put away.  She also was protecting her investment, but to her that was the same thing.

“That’s not a problem.  You were under a lot of stress.  It could have happened to anyone.”  What am I saying?  I took out five thousand dollars from my cousin.  It looks like it happened to anyone, but that anyone was me.

“Still, it’s only right for you to get the money.”  Right on cue Archibald came back in the kitchen with a small paper sack.  Gladys opened it up and took out a small stack of cash.  I mean the stack was substantial enough, but when the predominate bill denomination was a dollar I became an atheist real quickly about the whole thing.

“Gladys, what is that, like four hundred?” I asked.  As soon as I said it I knew I had done it now.   I wished I had eaten those words instead of the sandwich.

Gladys sighed and began to cry, left eye first.  Archibald looked at me like I took a baseball bat to his wife.  Archibald pointed at the money.  “That was our fund to fix our car.  Shop said it would be about five hundred.  We have over four sixty here.”

“I’m not going to take your car money.”  I put down the remains of the sandwich and start thinking about how to get out of the door as fast as possible.

Gladys tried to pull herself together.  “I thought you would understand.  If it wasn’t for…”  She left everything unsaid out there, and I couldn’t agree with her more.  I reached out and took the money.

“Don’t worry.  Everything will be okay.”  No less truer words were ever spoken, but right now a few lies between friends were about the best any of us could hope for.

A voice from the wilderness called out.  “Mom, can you bring me a soda?”

This rallied Gladys to action.  She put away the horseradish mayo and brisket and grabbed a can of Coke.  All weakness was gone and Saint Gladys was back.  “A mother’s work is never done.  Goodbye Larry.”   And with that she exited stage left.

I handed Archibald the money and he put it away in his pocket.  “Hide that better than you did that beer.”

Archibald smiled.  “She knew you were going to give it back.  No need to play the game.”

I choked down the rest of my sandwich.  “After all these years you still think that?”

He reached in and grabbed me another bottle of beer, and one for himself.  Archibald wouldn’t want a man to drink alone.  “Of course not.  I’ll make sure to screw up.  It makes us a happy couple.  And don’t worry about that money.  Chauncey ain’t going to go nowhere before trial, and he sure ain’t going anywhere afterwards except to sweat it out for a while.  His lawyer thinks he can get him out on a suspended sentence even with the drug charge.”

I tried to keep my tone light.  “When is he due in court?”

Archibald waved me out of the kitchen and towards the door.  “Two weeks from today.  Will that work out with you?”

With me, yes, with Cousin Antonio, no.  That means my doctor might be making some money on Thursday.  “Not a problem.  I was just curious.”

Archibald opened the door to allow me a graceful way out.  “I understand all about curiosity.”  I looked at the sweat circle around the peephole.  Ain’t that the truth.

I paused before crossing the threshold.  “Where did you get your car looked at?”

“Smithy’s.  Over on South Street.  Left the car with him and told him to wait on repairing it until I get him the money.”    Archibald took a long swig of his beer.

I saluted him with mine.  “Good place.  Thanks for the beers.”

Archibald smiled one last time at me.  “The least I can do.  Don’t worry about Gladys.  She still loves you.  It’s just when it comes to money and family.”

It was my turn to take a long drink.  “You’re preaching to the choir there.”  With that Archibald closed the door and the chain slithered in place.  I was left alone with my thoughts and my beer.  At least the beer was good company.  Oh well, onward and upward.  I headed back to the elevator.