The Library – Take 2 (Garage Fiction #37)

As I came around the stacks on the first floor, I couldn’t miss the blonde ponytail pulled tight behind her head. 

Bathed in the morning sun radiating through the library window, her face had an angelic glow.

So did her ample chest

Now I’m not saying that’s the first place my eyes went.  But with the sun and all, it just kind of came together in one instantaneous look.

A look that shoves a gorgeous picture into the back of your brain where you have to decide quickly where you’re going to file it.

Angelic face file? Ample chest file?  My heart raced as the image confusion kicked in.

Either way, my trip to the library was already infinitely more interesting.

As I approached, I did my best to stay focused on her face.  She seemed like a sweet girl. The dateable kind.  Hot but not one to flaunt it.  Not like Jodie back in high school.

She was crazy smart, but the way she threw her body around she wasn’t someone you took home to meet the family.

But this one, beautiful and unpretentious.  From what I’d seen in class, she was nice to just about everybody. 

As I closed the gap to her table I decided to skip the chest and keep an eye on her face.  That or her copy of Catcher in the Rye.

It was on our reading list and I was already dreading it.  Angling toward the opposite corner of the six-person table, I asked, “Hows the book?”

She looked up with an approving smile and I sat.

“Pretty good I guess.  I’m not that far along, but I should have it done in the next day or so.”

“What? Who reads that fast.”

“What can I say, I like books.”

“Oh.  I was never much for reading.  Too much T.V. as a kid I guess.”

“Probably just haven’t found the right books.”

“Maybe. Doesn’t really matter what I like since we have a massive reading list.”

Quipping warmly, “It’s only six books.”

‘That’s more than I’ve read my whole life.”

“Really?” She looked at me as if I’d lost something.  With a gentle mix of sympathy and verve she dove right in. “You must really hate books.”

I paused and did the math in my head. She likes books. I like blonde hair.  She likes books, I like breasts. I fumbled for the image in the back of my brain as I didn’t want to stare.

I thought if I had any hope for a second conversation or third, I’d better be honest from the start.

“Yeah I do. I hate ‘em.

As I said it she didn’t break eye contact. It was as if she was searching for something. My discomfort grew as she leaned back.

“I don’t believe you.”  The conviction in her voice stung.  “You hate something but it’s not books. I’m sure of it.”

What do you know? I thought. Part of me wanted to get up and leave.  Goody two shoes bookworm thinks she has it all figured out, I thought.  But as she put the book down and continued to look at me, I felt I had to stay.   

And it wasn’t just the blond hair and breasts.

I felt like she knew something about me, even though we’d just met.  And That’s when it hit like a flood.  I just started talking without thinking about it

“In first grade, I could read 7th grade books and I quickly became the novelty act for my parent’s parties. ‘Look how smart he is’ they’d say.  I didn’t mind it at first, but after a while I felt like a carnival sideshow.”

“Maybe they were just proud of you.”

“Maybe at first.  But after I told my mom I didn’t want to do it.  She said ok until the martini’s kicked in at the next party and things would get ugly.”

“I get it.”

“Oh?”

Without hesitation she jumped in with both feet.  “My dad died when I was seven, and my mom went off the deep end.  They were high-school sweethearts and once he was gone she just kind of snapped.  More wine than martinis but I get it.  My brother and I did our best to stayed off her radar.  He was older and could drive.  Me, I was stuck at home with mom and books became my friends.  A way to leave that house anytime I wanted.”

“Sorry to hear about your father.”

“It was a long time ago and I hate to say it, but I really don’t remember him all that much.”

Sad. Her dad dies and her mom goes off the deep end.  Sadder still, my mom was off the deep end and I wish my dad was dead.  Either way, neither one of us got to know our dads.

Catching her eyes, I sat motionless.  We’d only been talking for a few minutes and I’d already said things I’d never told anyone.  It was as if she knew my thoughts needed to get out.  They needed oxygen.  Just enough oxygen to combust and burn off the resentment.

Again she looked through me, “What are you thinking?”

“I’m not quite sure. I’ve only been sitting here for a few minutes and all I want to do is keep talking.”

She crossed her arms on the table and leaned in with a gentle smile.

“Works for me.”

“I just find it odd how your dad dies and then your mom goes off the deep end.  And here my mom was already off the deep end, and it wouldn’t matter to me if my dad was dead.”

Her blue eyes and warm face told me to keep going.

I pulled my copy of Catcher in the Rye out of my bag and put it on the table next to hers.

Looking down at it I started.

“On the last day of school, right before summer break, he put me on restrictions for getting a “B” in English.  He was a man of perfection and anything less than straight “A” wasn’t tolerated

And as part of the punishment, he took me to the library and told me I wouldn’t be off restrictions until I picked two books and completed a full book report on each one

He only gave me about fifteen minutes to find two books, and after looking a while I just grab two that had the best covers.  Something about kudzu taking over a town, and I can’t remember the other one.  All I know is when I got home they were both horrible. Long story short.   He refused to let me exchange them. And I refused to do the book reports.

So I spent nearly the whole summer in my room.  No T.V. nothing.  He wasn’t giving in and neither was I.  Eventually my mom intervened. He settled for a one page summary of each book, which I took from the dust cover, and I got off restrictions three weeks before the next school year started.”

She winced.  “That’s nearly two months on restrictions.”

“Yup. And that was just one of my run ins with Mr. Perfection. A small taste of why I wouldn’t care if he was dead.”

Sitting up with a hint of triumph she said, “I knew it.”

“Knew what.”

“I told you you didn’t hate books.”

ot plenty of time. Let’s have the long one.”


This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Jinn…
“ ‘Murica! “

2014-11-05 22.05.43


These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project codenamed “Garage Fiction”.  Since January 2015, three writers (Jinn Zhong, Dogwood Daniels and Me) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Sundays and dissect on Tuesdays via podcast.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: TBA
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Scar 4

The Library (Garage Fiction #36)

For as long as I can remember I hated reading.

Maybe it was because T.V. was easier.  You didn’t have to think.

You could sit and watch happy people be happy, and maybe you’d be happy for a little while. That’s what most little kids want.  To be happy.

Happier than sitting down to eat a whole tomato just because he told you to.  Still don’t like those things.

Happier than getting hit on your elbows with a fork for not putting them on the dinner table.

Those unhappy things that little kids try to forget as fast as they can.

That’s why T.V. was better than books.

When you need a quick escape hatch, who has time for a book.

That’s why I hated to read. It was too slow.  Well at least, that’s why I thought I hated reading.

I didn’t find out the real reason until I met her.  In of all places, the library.

She was sitting at the window facing me as I came around the stacks on the first floor.

Her blonde ponytail was pulled tight behind her head, as the sun shone through the window from the courtyard near the student union.

The soft orange rays gave a glow to her angelic face. Not to mention the fact that I had a crystal clear picture of her firm chest.  I’m not saying that’s the first thing I went for with my eyes.  But with the sun and all, it was hard to miss.

It all just kind of came together in one instantaneous look.

A look that shoves a gorgeous picture into the back of your brain where you have to decide quickly where you’re going to file it.

Angelic face file? Ample chest file?  My heart raced as the confusion kicked in.  I wanted to stay focused on her face because she seemed like a real sweet girl.

Beautiful, unpretentious, and nice to just about everybody in our English class. 

I’d spotted her a few times but we’d never really met

As I approached the table I decided I would skip the chest and keep an eye on her face.  That and her copy of Catcher in the Rye.

It was on our reading list and I was already dreading it.

I moved toward the corner of the six-person table and asked, “Hows the book?” She looked up with an approving smile as I sat. “Pretty good I guess.  I’m not that far along, but I should have it done in the next day or so.”

“What? Who reads that fast.”

What can I say, I like books.”

“Oh. Was never much for reading.  Too much T.V. as a kid I guess.”

“Probably just haven’t found the right books.”

“Maybe so. Doesn’t really matter what I like since we have a massive reading list from class.”

Laughing. “It’s only six books.”

‘That’s more than I’ve read in my whole life.”

“Really?” She looked at me as if I’d lost something.  With a gentle mix of sympathy and verve she dove right in.

“You must really hate books.”

I paused and did the math in my head. She likes books. I like blonde hair.  She likes books, I like breasts. I tried to file the image back in my brain.

If this conversation had a glimmer of hope for heading in the right direction I had to be honest.

“Yeah I do. I hate ‘em”

“I don’t believe you.”  The conviction in her voice stung.  “You hate something but it’s not books. I’m sure of it.”

What do you know? I thought. Part of me wanted to get up and leave, but as she put the book down and leaned in toward me, I felt I had to stay.   

And it wasn’t just about her blond hair and breasts.

She knew something about me, yet we’d never met.  And That’s when it hit me like a flood.

All the reasons I hated reading came from one seminal summer after sixth grade. Just like eating the tomato or getting hit with a fork, I’d learned that books were nothing more than punishment.

Right as school let out for summer break, he’d put me restrictions. Must’ve been grades, I can’t remember.  I’d been put on restrictions so many times the why didn’t matter anymore

But this time I wasn’t just tortured by being in my room while everyone else in the neighborhood was outside playing, there was additional punishment this time.

As part of the punishment I was taken to the library where I picked out two books.  Being a T.V. kid I I picked them out because the covers looked cool—visuals over content I guess.

And thats where things fell apart.  When I got home, I opened the books and by the end of the first chapters I was in hell. Both of them were boring and stupid. But that didn’t matter.  I couldn’t take them back.  And the only way to get off restrictions was to finish the books and write the reports.

As I read and wrote, my hatred began—but just as she’d said. It wasn’t a hatred for books, it was a hatred of him.

I pulled out my copy of Catcher in the Rye and set it on the table in front of us.  And when I looked up at her, I could tell she knew she was right.

“So do you want the short version or the long version.”

“I’ve got plenty of time. Let’s have the long one.”


This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by me…
“Girl With A Book” – Photographed by me with the note: “Happened to see this on a car in front of me and thought alright cool!”

skitch


These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project codenamed “Garage Fiction”.  Since January 2015, three writers (Jinn Zhong, Dogwood Daniels and Me) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Sundays and dissect on Tuesdays via podcast.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: Desperate Pact
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: The Sage

 

Fallen (Garage Fiction #35)

Halo never had  a problem with heights. It came with the job.

Whitaker not so much.  He preferred the ground.  Even in training, Halo couldn’t get Whit to climb stairs, a ladder, or even look out a second story window.

So when Halo got the call to meet him on top of the tallest building in Cape Town he knew it wasn’t good.

At thirty two stories up, he made his way across the roof, sat down on the ledge, and dangled his feet off the side  of the building.

Whitaker turned toward him. His face was plastered with an odd contortion of puzzlement and despair as the orange glare from the inferno below gave him an unholy glow.

“I did this.”

“Did what.”

Pointing to the raging fire below.“This.  The fire. The people. I did this.”

“What are you talking about? News report said it was a New Years Eve party that got out of hand, fireworks or something.”

Transfixed, Whitaker pointed again at the fire. “Look at them all.”

Halo looked south toward the shanty town.  Wind whipped flames licked the foothills of Table Mountain as thousands of people scurried around the blaze like a swarm of black ants on a collapsed anthill. The city streets started to bulge as more and more of the newly homeless struggled to find clean air.

“What do you mean you did this?”

Whitaker skipped the question and started to ramble. “I keep following the rules.  Doing my job, but they don’t listen. None of them. It’s the same thing that happened last week with my other case. And the case before that.  This has been going on for months.  Like fools they keep pushing and this is what happens.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I followed the manual to a tee buddy.  But no one listens anymore. It’s like I’m not even there. My last case. Mom, two kids, I told her he was bad news. But she was just glad for the companionship and support after her husband died.  She wouldn’t listen when I told her not to date. Told her all he wanted was to gain power over another gullible soul. He was a powder keg. I’d seen his file.  But she just like the others, she didn’t listen.”

“What happened?”

“A few weeks go buy, a little two much wine, they go at it, and he beat her unconscious. Child protective services came in, took the two kids into custody and she’s still on life support.”

“You can’t save ‘em Whit. That’s not your job. She can choose to listen to the small, still voice or not.”

Slamming the leather bound manual on the ledge between them, Whitaker’s voice cracked with frustration.

“I know my damn job. I’ve read this thing a thousand times. I’ve even memorized what I’m to do.  But it’s clear we’re on the losing side Halo.  No one is listening anymore.  They’re all doing their own thing.  Won’t take heed of anything we say.”

Halo’s concern grew.

“Whit, that’s free will.  Some people, no matter how hard you try, are going to dismiss you.  And when they do you move on. You just go to the next case.”

“Yeah I keep moving on and look at where it’s gotten me.  One failed case after another.”

Whitaker kept his eyes on the raging fire. “I told them not to go to the party. A shanty town is no place for fireworks.  But they wouldn’t listen.”

“It’s New Year’s eve. Humans do stupid things. Like I said, unless they dismiss you, you just keep at it. Did this one dismiss you too.”

“No, I left.”

Transfixed on the flames, Whit never saw the shock on Halo’s face.”

“You left?”

“Yup. We’re losing the war Halo, and I’m tired of being on the losing side.”

“You know what happens in the end, my friend.  Sounds like you need to put in for some rest. Recharge the batteries, refocus. The fight is harder than ever.  And it’s easier to give in and give up now.  But it’s going to turn.  And it won’t be long.”

“You’ve been saying that for a millennia Halo. And I’m tired of losing. I’m tired of waiting. I want to win for once.”

“Whit. Look at me. You need to stay focused.  This is no time…”

Putting a hand on Whitaker’s shoulder, Halo leaned forward and was greeted by Whit’s blank expression.

“Whit?” Halo shook his shoulder. “Whit! Look at me.”  Halo pulled a little harder but Whit never took his eyes off the flames. “Whit. You don’t wan’t to do this.”

Halo pulled harder. But Whit’s body went limp.  It slumped downward, only to stop snap back, rigidly after he was out of Halo’s reach.  Turning with a smile, Whit threw his body forward as Halo lunged at his arm.

Within seconds, Whit hit had passed all thirty two stories and hit the ground with a thud.

Looking down in shock, Halo watched as Whit pushed his body from the ground and ran toward the flames.

As halo pushed himself back from the edge of the building, his hand landed on the brown leather manual, picking it up he stared at the gold embossed letters: ANGEL OPERATIONS Property of Whitaker Longchamp.


This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Dogwood …
Cape Town Fire, Photographed by Chris Cloete

Capet Town Fire by Chris Cloete

Cape Town Fire by Chris Cloete


These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project codenamed “Garage Fiction”.  Since January 2015, three writers (Jinn Zhong, Dogwood Daniels and Me) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Sundays and dissect on Tuesdays via podcast.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: Currently Under Exclusive Submission
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Count to Five, Part 1

Ninja #2 (Garage Fiction #34)

Like any animal, Pigs need water. Which is why I was always up at 5 a.m every morning.

That and I didn’t want to start the day with a whipping. I’d been getting too many of those lately. No need to tempt fate again.

Lucky for me this morning came off without a hitch.

Since the first winter snow, it had been the same routine. Before anyone else was up, I had to go to the barn and break the ice on the pigs’ trough. Then grab some fresh eggs from the chicken coop so mom could make breakfast.

We didn’t have cows. Just pigs and chickens.

I was glad we didn’t have cows. We’d visited a friend’s dairy farm a bunch of times when we lived back in Florida. And boy it stunk.

Plus their whole family had to get up at 4a.m. every morning. Summer, winter, didn’t matter. Cows needed to be milked. And they had a ton of them.

So once we moved to the little farm up in the Appalachians, I was glad we didn’t have cows.

Pigs and chickens were enough.

Once I’d gotten my warm clothes on, and made it out of the house I didn’t mind 5a.m. so much. Between the moonlight glistening on the mountain snow and the sound of the creek coming from behind the barn and down through the front yard, I’d gotten to where I could find my way to the barn door without ever turning on my flashlight.

I’d pretend I was a ninja. An assassin on a mission.

And if I made a sound that made the pigs squeal before I got to the rusty latch on the barn gate, I was dead and the mission was over.

I’d send myself back to the porch, wait until the pigs settled down and start all over again.

I finally got to where I could a go weeks without spooking the pigs. Those were peaceful moments of being in total control of my destiny.

Everything rested in my teenage hands. By my own skill I controlled whether I lived or died.

And after a few months, I’d become a master ninja. I’d learned how to escape.

You see, we’d only been in the mountains since this past summer, just a month or so before school started.

Mom said we were up here because of the work. But that was until winter came. Coming from Florida, you could work construction in the winter. But up here, with heavy snows. The work got scarce.

So all three of us were home together a lot more often.

And I didn’t like so much. It was more peaceful when he wasn’t around.

“Boy? You finish your chores and get the eggs?

“Yessir.”

“Did you salt the bridge? I’m sure it froze over last night.

“Yessir.”

Of course I salted the bridge. Anything to get him to leave. Of course, I wouldn’t care if his truck slid off the bridge into the creek bed below. It’d probably tear mom up pretty good.

Don’t know why. How could you care about anyone who calls your kid boy.

That’s one of the reasons why I never called him dad. That and ‘cause he wasn’t my dad. Just my mom’s husband.

I didn’t get to see my real dad that much. A week or so in the summer and sometimes a Christmas here or there.

But even without my real dad, I’d seen and heard of other kid’s dads.

I’d seen that a dad was supposed to teach you and encourage you. They were supposed to build you up not tear you down. Of course dad’s had do some disciplining too.

All kids need discipline. It keeps us from running riot I guess. Mom said Aunt June, never disciplined Henry. He’s four years older than me and he’s already been in jail twice I think. Drugs or something.

So I guess some discipline is good.

Probably keep you from lying, stealing, and cheating. Things like that.

But not the discipline I get. I get it for just breathing, or being in the wrong spot at the wrong time, talking out of turn, or leaving a candy wrapper in a favorite chair.

Not things you need disciplining for. Maybe some teaching, but not a whipping. At least I think so.

Only problem is mom’s husband doesn’t think so. He isn’t into the teaching and growing you up kind of discipline. His is more the punishment kind, plain and simple.

He uses it to control the house and keep me in my place. Sure it shapes up my behavior in the short run, but only out of fear. Not out of respect or anything.

My real dad, even though I didn’t see him much, he never hit me. Maybe once, but if he did I can’t remember it. He just had this way about him.

If you messed up, he’d give you this look. A look of utter disappointment. And because he was such a nice man, too nice maybe, you would beg for a whipping. That’s what me and my stepbrothers would do when I was there. Well, that’s what they told me anyway.

I know I couldn’t stand to see disappointment on his face. Especially since I didn’t see it all that often.

But here at mom’s house, a disappointed face would be fine. A whole lot better than a belt or buckle, depending on what he grabbed first.

Point is, he just wasn’t so nice. Especially now that winter was harder than expected, and money was getting tight.

At least that’s what I heard mom telling to grandma on the phone last week.

She said there was no “big project” up here like they said before we left. And that we’d only moved to get away from all their friends back in Florida.

There were a lot of them. Their were always people over at the house. They’d all stay up late drinking, smoking, and talking fast.

And in the morning, I’d always look of the little rolled up dollar bills. I could usually make off with three sometimes four dollars.

Most of the people were pretty nice, never did anything to me, which was good. A few were scary. But I’d mind my own business. And go to my room. At least in Florida I had a room.

Up here in the old farmhouse I didn’t have one. I slept on mattress at the foot of the stairs. That was where the pot belly stove was. They put me there because it was the warmest room in the house.

And when winter hit, that was a good thing.

They slept upstairs. Heat rises you know.

I hated that stove. Not because I had to sleep next to it, but because of the firewood. Every night, it was the same thing.

He’d yell from upstairs, “Boy… you get that firewood stacked for the night?”

“Yessir.”

I’d always say I had. Even if I hadn’t.

I’d say yessir then run to the stove and check to make sure. Every once in a while I’d forgotten. Then I’d have to run outside and grab a cord of wood and try to make it back before he came down after his bath.

Usually I’d make it back. But when I didn’t. I’d get a double dose.

And tonight was one of those nights. I got one whipping for lying and saying I’d done it, and a second one for not doing it in the first place.

The punishment was quick, but it hurt like hell. Especially the buckle. It wasn’t so bad when it hit your flesh, its the thunk on bone that usually put me on my knees.

But tonight, I didn’t give him the satisfaction. This time I stood tall. Even as the buckle hit me for the third time.

Thats because I’d already made up my mind. Tomorrow the ninja’s mission would go beyond the rusty latch on the barn gate.

Tomorrow, there would be no salt on the frozen bridge.

 


This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Jinn …
A “Lorde 2Pac Beck Mashup” Videosong by Pomplamoose


These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project codenamed “Garage Fiction”.  Since January 2015, three writers (Jinn Zhong, Dogwood Daniels and Me) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Sundays and dissect on Tuesdays via podcast.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: Coming Soon
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Dark Outside

Ninja (Garage Fiction #33)

Like any animal, Pigs need water. Which is why I was up at 5 a.m in the first place.

That and I didn’t want to start the morning with a whipping. I’d been getting too many of those already. No need to tempt fate again.

Since the first winter snow, it was like this every morning. Before anyone else was up, I had to go to the barn and break the ice on the pigs’ trough.  Then grab some eggs from the chicken coop so mom could make breakfast.

We didn’t have cows. Just pigs and chickens.

I was glad we didn’t have cows.

We’d visited a friend’s dairy farm a bunch of times when we lived back in Florida. And boy it stunk.  Plus their whole family had to get up at 4a.m. every morning.  Summer, winter, didn’t matter.  Cows needed to be milked.  And they had a ton of them.

So when we moved to the little farm up in the Appalachians, I was glad we didn’t have cows.

Pigs and chickens were enough.

Once I’d gotten my warm clothes on, and made it out of the house I didn’t mind 5a.m. so much.  Between the moonlight glistening on the high mountain snow and the sound of the creek coming from behind the barn and down through the front yard, I’d gotten to where I could find may way to the barn door without ever turning on my flashlight.

I’d pretend I was a ninja. And if I made a sound that made the pigs squeal before I got to the rusty latch on the barn gate, I was dead and the mission was over.

I’d send myself back to the porch, wait until the pigs settled down and start all over again.

I finally got to where I could go weeks without spooking the pigs. Those were peaceful moments of being in total control of my destiny.

Everything rested in my eleven year old hands.  By my own skill I controlled whether I lived or died.

And after a few months, I’d become a master ninja.

You see, we’d only been in the mountains since the summer, just a month or so before school started.

Mom said we were up here because there was work.  But that was until winter came. Coming from Florida, you could work construction in the winter.  But up here, with heavy snows. The work got scarce. So all three of us were home together more.

And I didn’t like so much.  It was more peaceful when he wasn’t around.

“Boy? You finish your chores and get the eggs?

“Yessir.”

He wasn’t my dad. He was my mom’s husband.  I didn’t see my real dad that much, but from what I’d seen and heard of other kid’s dads, is that a dad was supposed to teach you and encourage you.  They were supposed to build you up not tear you down.

Of course dad’s had do some disciplining.  All kids need discipline, it helps them learn to respect authority and mind the boundaries.  The good ones.  The ones that will one day keep you of trouble.

Like no lying, stealing, and cheating.  Things like that.  Not breathing, being in the wrong spot at the wrong time, being a bother, or leaving a candy wrapper in a favorite chair.

No, those should be teaching events. Not disciplining events.  At least I thought so.

The only problem is my mom’s husband didn’t think so.  He wasn’t into the teaching and growing you up kind of discipline.  His discipline was punishment, pure and simple.

He used it to dominate the environment and keep me in your place.  Sure it might shape my behavior in the short run, but only out of fear.  Not out of respect or anything.

My real dad. Even though I didn’t see him much, he never hit me.  Maybe once, but if he did I don’t even remember it.  He had this way about him. If you messed up, he’d give you this look.  A look of utter disappointment.  And because he was such a nice man, too nice maybe, you would beg for a whipping.

Anything but seeing the disappointment in his face.

Not so at my mom’s house.

He just wasn’t so nice. Especially now that winter was harder than expected, and money was getting tight.

At least that’s what I overheard mom telling to grandma on the phone last week.

She also said there was no “big project” up here.  And that we’d only moved up here to the mountains to  get away from all their friends back in Florida.

There were a lot of them.  Their were always people over at the house.  They’d all stay up late drinking, smoking, and talking. ‘

And in the morning, I’d always look of the little rolled up dollar bills they’d leave behind. I could usually find three sometimes four dollars worth.

Most of the people were pretty nice, never did anything to me, which was good. A few were pretty scary. But I’d mind my own business. And go to my room.  At least back in florida I had a room.

Up here in the old farmhouse I didn’t have one.  I slept on mattress at the foot of the stairs. That was where the pot belly stove was.  They put me there because it was the warmest room in the house.  And when winter hit, that was a good thing.

They slept upstairs. Heat rises you know.

I hated that stove.  Not because I had to sleep next to it, but because of the firewood. Every night, it was the same thing.

He’d yell from upstairs, “Boy… you get that firewood stacked for the night?”

“Yes sir.”

I’d always say I had.  Even if I hadn’t.

I’d say yes then run to the stove and check to make sure.  Every once in a while I’d forgotten. Then I’d have to run outside and grab a cord of wood and try to make it back before he came down after his bath.

Usually I’d make it back.  But when I didn’t. I’d get a double dose.  One whipping for lying and saying I’d done it, and a second one for not doing it in the first place.

Punishment was quick.

There was no need to go behind the woodshed, or the barn, or anywhere else there was no one around for miles so he’d march me right out on the porch.

But this night was different.  Instead of a trembling frame and teary pleas there was a calm resolve.

My senses quickened.

I could feel the crisp winter air burn my nose and lungs until they both became a harmonious breath. My  ears were filled with the sound of water lapping over countless rocks in the creek.

My boots hit the snowy porch without a sound.  Every step became a silent dance. First toe then heel as I made my way to the end of the porch and confidently grabbed the railing.

It was as if my body had been prepared for this very moment.  As my drawers hit the porch and the cold wind blew across my backside, everything became clear.

I was a master ninja, and tonight was not my night to die.


This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Me …
“River Flows in You” – Composed and Performed by Yiruma


These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project codenamed “Garage Fiction”.  Since January 2015, three writers (Jinn Zhong, Dogwood Daniels and Me) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Sundays and dissect on Tuesdays via podcast.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: The Cat Came Back
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Human