Encounter in the Alley

A fine mist dances across the dark street gutters. A cat calls. An angry woman answers it. Besides these, nothing.

Just the way Julias likes it.

He checks his watch, knowing full well what time it is by the nighttime noises; playing at patience in an impatient mood. Where is that boy?!

Just then, in the absence of cat and woman mewls, his keen ears make out the soft pattern of Wal-Mart sneakers on misty sidewalks. He pulls against the cool stucco of the nearby house, pulls out of view of any wandering streetlamp circles.

The sneakers draw closer, stop, scuffle, squeak, scuffle again. Julias hears a hissing, whispered, “Julias?

Won’t the kid ever use the code names? He steps out; Sneaker Boy nearly yelps out of his skin. Julias gives the youth a look. “Use the names, Squirt.”

A nod, barely perceptible in the drifting fog. “Right.”

Julias sighs, slouches. “Did you get them, or not?”

Squirt grows animated, and pulls a rustling, bulging grocery sack from his jacket. The contents nearly spill all over the dirty, cracked, moodily-lit gutter.

“Shhhhh! Careful!” Julias admonishes, almost losing his normal, chill demeanor. Man, I really need my hit.

“Sorry, Juli- I mean, Sorry, Emperor-Maul-of-the-Alleys.”

Julias stares at the runt for a full five seconds, and then sticks out a hand for the bag.

Gulping, Squirt appeases the empty palm. He watches Julias (AKA Emperor Maul of the Alleys) close his fist on the handle and withdraw his arm. Squirt gulps again. “So… erm, about payment….?”

Julias fixes the boy in another silent stare. The cat and woman from a few alleys over converse again in the silent, swirling air. Slowly, Julias sticks the other hand into a deep pocket. It returns, bearing $40.16. Squirt lifts his own hand to receive it; counts the full amount in the dim lighting.

“Hhh- how’d you know the current exchange rate?” Squirt asks, his voice full of awe.

Julias looks up from rifling through the grocery sack; pauses. “I always do,” he says, in a mysterious way. “Now, get outta here before I use yesterday’s rates.”

Just remembering not to yelp again in fright, the boy jumps and takes off down the dark sidewalk, down the fog-lit alley of night. His retreating sneakers echo a more rapid pace than the percussive song they played at their entry.

Smirking beneath the guise of darkness and mists, Julias pulls out his prizes: 1 packet of Fox’s Glacier Mints and 24 cans of Diet Coke. It’d been a steep price to also pay for the kid’s gasoline, but a man doesn’t haggle when he needs his fix. Thinking on this, he sets the cans and package at his feet and carefully withdraws an empty bottle from yet another pocket.

For the first time that night, he hears only the occasional passing car or burst of wind. The dame and her pet must have gone to bed. Uncapping the bottle and opening the package of mints, he fills one with a few of the other. Next, he removes a can of soda from its plastic ring and tilts the tab till it opens in a satisfying *ptissssh*. He pours the Diet Coke into the bottled mints, caps the top, and allows himself a few seconds’ pause.

With an expression of pure bliss, he suddenly shakes the contents like a madman. He uncaps the bottle and dances, grinning fully, in the sticky shower sparkling down amongst the mists and streetlights.

Laughing, quietly, he dumps the remaining solution down the gutter and turns again to his purchases. One down, 23 to go…

Receipt

 

In response to Fractured Faith Blog’s Flash Fiction Challenge.

The Eye of the Beholder

Good day, fellow art-lovers. On this fine morning, as you are all well aware, we gather to consider the latest artistic offerings one might find in his local market. Our pieces this day are all found in a curious shop named KSL Classifieds.

Without further ado, then, ladies and gentlemen, let us begin.

Our first sample is titled “Orange.”

Orange

Yes, yes it is. ‘Twould seem the artist felt no other explanation was necessary, and the seller as well. For $45, this… erm, orange, may be yours for the picking. (So sorry; it was too tempting.)

 

If obvious statements are your cachet, then our second item (for a mere $10) will leave you feeling …fabulous.

Fabulous

No, madame, I will not pronounce it as written. Anyone who cannot spell, nor include a photograph instead of a screen shot deserves to be shot. What’s that, sir? No, no. I was simply mumbling about the weather. Terribly hot day, this.

 

Of course, we are not simply purveyors of paltry paintings at this establishment. Those who wish to open their pocketbooks slightly wider may appreciate an original …print of an artwork, crafted by a man known as The Painter of Light.

Kinkade

I can’t help but feel the vendor did little to forward that reputation, by want of a clear lens for photographing. Ah, well, perhaps you may all picture its beauty, and thereby feel compelled to pay the $250 price tag.

 

Although I have studied and promoted creative works for many years, I’ll admit that some popular items still elude my personal preferences. Therefore, if any here express interest in Colombian paintings for their bathroom (as suggested by the seller), I’ll do my best to back them up.

Bottom

I’d say to move quickly on this $135 oil painting, but I imagine she’s not going anywhere in a hurry.

 

Our organizers thought this wall “art” might do well to follow the woman at her toilette; I can’t imagine why.

Moon

 

But really, what better place to rid oneself of an entire paycheck than on secondhand art? Take this print, for example, at $300:

Urn

“(B)eautifully framed urn artwork in pristine condition” advertises the owner. I agree. Tai Pan Trading did an excellent job purchasing framed and glassed-in Chinese merchandise, selling them to willing buyers, then closing down once said buyers could pick up their own through Amazon dealers.

 

Esteemed collectors such as you fine people know the value of a good piece. You know, for example, that a Renoit or Rembrandt is worth its sticker -provided one may prove its authenticity.

Therefore, you also know that a piece by an up-and-coming artist no one has heard of (and a name the vendor himself will not list) is most certainly worth $7,000.

Expensive

Since it is also un-titled, we will refer it is as Bird Merchant with an Extra Hand in the Shadow of Random Nudity. Don’t be shy, now; step up and part with the minor sum post-haste.

 

All you fine patrons who have held out for true genius, this final artwork will not disappoint:

Twilight

Twenty-five dollars, ladies and gentlemen. Twenty-five United States currency is all that separates you from artistic perfection.

 

As our session draws to a close, I wish to thank you all for your kind patronage and generous manner. Please feel free to join us in future, whenever we may have material enough to promote once again.

What NOT to Say When a Woman Gets Her Special Monthly Visitor

“Don’t worry. In a few years you’ll have dried up and it won’t be a problem anymore.”

“You have one every month. Shouldn’t you be used to the pain by now?”

“It’s better than the alternative, right?”

“Well, that explains things.”

 

On the flip side, the following comments are perfectly acceptable:

“Hi, honey. I happened to be at the store during lunchtime and they had your favorite chocolate on sale. Here’s a case of it.”

“I’m so happy to see you! I was just thinking, ‘I haven’t made dinner in a while.’ How about you go take a nice, hot shower for a few hours and I’ll take care of dinner and cleanup.”

“Hi, sweetie. I have great news for you: I just read about this surgery they can do to remove a woman’s uterus and place it inside her husband -but only during that time of the month. I signed us up for today; let’s go!”

A Spoonful of Limericks

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A lovely new faucet and sink
Decided to drip through a chink.
“Look, ma: a pool!”
Cried the poor mother’s fool.
The plumber charged $699.

 

adult-box-camping-5922
“Who did this?” Dad calls to the room.
The light’s on; he’s tripped on the broom.
His belts and neckties
Are knotted, mid-thigh.
Son says, “It’s The Fortress of Doom!”

 

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There once was a mother of four
Who never could sweep up her floor.
The clothes and the toys
Were stuck beneath boys.
Daddy wonders who taught them to swore.

Purple Prose

Aesthetically adorablely beautifully brilliantly characteristically curiously dirtily damningly energetically eagerly flauntingly flowery genuinely genially hopefully hauntingly ignominiously ickily jauntily junkily kleptomanically knowledgeably laughingly lovingly Lula

meets

Mysteriously masterfully naively nefariously ostentatiously odiously paternally politely quietly quickly respectfully randomly selectively seductively thoroughly tremblingly undyingly undressingly viriley violently wretchedly wealthily xenophobically xeriscapedly yearningly yuckily zealously zanily Zach.

Makes one wonder what their offspring will be like.

Sunday Short

The crocodile had a problem.

No, it wasn’t that she felt socially shunned. The latest court ruling had ensured that all major amphibious predators could finally slink about the public streets without reprimand. Irwin vs. The Reptilia had seen to that.

She sighed, and looked at her beautiful, green, scaly feet.

Now that she was an accepted member of society, she wanted to dress like it. But where was she possibly going to get a matching purse, without looking like a complete cannibal?

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unsplash-logoJackson Jost

Coming of Age

My oldest son recently turned 12. I spent a few months days in denial, particularly since that means he will be a junior high student next year.

After the shock wore off, the full weight of responsibility hit me suddenly: I am mother to THE MOMENT.

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It’s A Day No Pigs Would Die, Catcher in the RyeFinding Neverland time of life. My son will be crossing the bridge of life into manhood, and I’m wholly unprepared. I’m not sure what to do first.

Child Protective Services might get called if we try a Native American Vision Quest, or Sateré Mawé bullet ant gloves.

I suppose I’d better just arrange for a good, old-fashioned death maze that leads to a formerly-trustworthy man possessed by a somewhat-immortal killer wizard.

Chamber of Secrets

After all, I want my son to be prepared for whatever challenges he might face in life.