The Rose & Grain (Garage Fiction #15)

The Rose & Grain was always festive around eight thirty in the evening.  That’s when the thirty-something players around D.C. would file in after leaving their government perches on Capitol Hill or lobbying firm on Avenue K. 

Making sure not to leave the office before eight p.m. showed commitment to their work while still leaving room to let lose before heading home and starting the grind all over again at 6am.

Such is the life of the ambitious.

But Miles was more than ambitious. His thirst for wealth and power consumed him.  And it’s what drove the other young elite players to seek out  The Rose & Grain.

The only problem was getting in.  It was invitation only.  A single text to a burner cell phone number that changed every week.  If they answered your text with the code you were in.  If not, they were either at max capacity or you were not deemed valuable enough.  Not valuable enough for The Rose & Grain regulars nor for the finest whiskey selection inside the Beltway.

Once in, at some point you’d be expected to share some samples of pre-prohibition spirits like a 1917 bottle from Kentucky or a 1922 bottle from Baltimore. And at $88 an ounce these wallet-shocking libations told the regulars you were worth their time and attention.

Of course Miles never had to text.  His permanent code let him in anytime of day.  The burner phone was just his way of having the staff weed out the rif-faff and wannabes.

More than a regular, Miles was part owner of The Rose & Grain as well as the adjacent one-star restaurant, Grainery 39.  Just a couple of the holdings in his twenty-four million dollar blind trust.  A tidy sum built during his seven year stint at Goldman Sachs’s Special Situation’s Group right after Law School. Just another step Miles had mapped on the power ladder.

One that now included the White House. Especially since he helped the President raise over fourteen million for his last campaign.

Miles entered Grainery 39 off the 18th Street entrance and weaved his way past the long mahogany bar filled with new blood.  Ambitious young ower brokers trying to find their way around Washington, only to have missed the mark.  The real action was taking place just 150 feet away through a series of  behind-the-scenes passages and flights of stairs down to the Rose & Grain.

The serenity of this cozy den greeted miles with the smell of leather, wood, and fine whiskey. Not to mention a small whiff of Senator Chisolm’s Cohiba as he melted into his leather chair as a six foot blonde with a foreign accent massaged his neck and shoulders.

Miles mused that the costs of the suits and skirts in this room alone could have fed an African village for a decade.  But these people weren’t here for magnanimity or charity, it was all about the halls of wealth and power.  Near capacity, it would be a good night.

Spotting Mick behind the bar he ordered a Vieux Carre.  The blend of whisky, cognac, and bitters never looked good on the recipe card, but the smooth heat and gentle zest felt like heaven as it the icy concoction passed his mouth and warmed his throat.

“Thank you Mick. Perfect once again.”

“Avec plaisir mon ami.”

The young Irishman always dreamed of living in France, and he was always ready to let you know as he practiced his French with a near perfect accent.

Smiling at Mick, Miles lifted the Glencairn glass.  He always preferred it to a normal highball.

He walked toward his favorite highback chair only to see a long pair of black stockings peaking around the side.

Given it was a woman, he decide to take the adjacent chair without saying a word. Pretending to look at his drink then take his seat, he could see her charcoal hair laying longingly over her firm shoulders pointing to her ample breasts behind a tasteful blouse. He turned to her with long smile and slightly raised brow and .

“Hello Miles.”

Puzzled he asked, “Do I know you?”

“You should.” Her coal black eyes pierced through Miles as he peered into his soul.  The whole room stopped in time as she spoke without moving her lips.

“Lucius sends his greetings from Molech.”

Unsettled without giving in, Miles maintained his poise, “Have we met?”

The woman spoke as the room came to life, “We have not, but I was told I could find you here.”

“How did you get in?”

“Your code of course.”

Miles bristled but but still have nothing away, “If that’s true, you either are particularly good at getting to what you want, or we know some of the same people.”

She leaned closer to Miles chest first.  He couldn’t resist his eyes moving down, even if only for a fraction of second.

“Like what see.”

“That depends.”

“Ahh.” Smiling and sly. “I see your not one to lie down easily.”  She looked toward the table and grabbed an olive from the hor d’oeuvres gracing the table by his chair.  Putting the green flesh toward her open mouth, she bit down slightly on the edge as her teetch maneuvered around the pit.

“The answer is both. We do know the same people.  And yes, I am particularly good at getting what I want.”

Miles returned her sly smile with a long grin. She went on.

“As I said, “Lucius asked me to send you greetings from him and Molech.”

“I am afraid I know neither a Lucius or a Molech.”

“Yes but you do know Balaam and he has spoken of them many times.”

At her words, Miles sat back like a dandy stirring his Vieux Carrea and crossing his legs slowly with one knee behind the other.

“Hasn’t he?” Eyebrow raised she probed with a mix of disdain and sensual verve.

In no mood for games Miles confirmed, “he’s mentioned them on occasion but I’ve never met either of them.”

“Now that we agree we know the same people.  I’ll be brief.  Molech wants you to release Balaam.  He no longer has confidence in his ability to carry out his duties.  And frankly, Molech believes you can be even more useful in partnership with Lucius.  Let’s just say that he feels your new position as Chief of Staff makes you even more valuable. But you have one weakness that is keeping you from gaining more of the power you crave.”

“What’s that?” Miles scoured her from head to toe looking for any sign of weakness.  If she had one, she was’t letting on.

“Balaam.  Plain and simple. Molech questions his faithfulness.  Let’s just say he’s allowed one to many opportunities to fall through his hands.  And it has become tiring for his Lordship.”

“Then why doesn’t he take care of Balaam himself.”

“That would be too crass.  In effect, Molech wants your permission.  He feels you have great promise, and taking a long-time friend from you with any prior discussion would  complicate things. Molech wants to make sure you know you are valued, and he wouldn’t want to start off the next level of your assignment on the wrong foot.”

Miles looked down at his drink thinking of Balaam.  They had been together since Miles was a child.  He was there when the family was killed.  He had not only protected him, but had been a trusted mentor through school, his time on Wall Street, and even now at the White House.

Looking back at the women, her countenance had changed. Nearly sympathetic she spoke, “You should take some time Miles.  This isn’t an easy decision.”

She reached for his hand.  And when she touched him he instantly saw her from the edge of his bed.  Looking up anxiously he saw her angelic white skin framed by her charcoal and black lace panties that matched to perfection. Putting her black pump on the center of his chest, in one movement she shoved him back down on the bed and leapt on top of him.

Instantly the two of them were back in the bar.  He stared down at his drink, as the condensation dripped from his glass onto the tip of her black heels.  Pulling him up from the high back leather chair, her voice caressed his ears.

“No need to decide now Miles, I am sure will think much more clearly in the morning.  It’s time for us to go.

Standing up he pulled her toward the door with an entranced smile. “Yes perhaps I would have more clarity in the morning.”


This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Nicholas Brack…

The Rolling Stone’s “Sympathy for the Devil”


“Sympathy For The Devil”

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul and faith
And I was ’round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain
I rode a tank
Held a general’s rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
I shouted out,
“Who killed the Kennedys?”
When after all
It was you and me
Let me please introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached Bombay
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what’s confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
Cause I’m in need of some restraint
So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I’ll lay your soul to waste, um yeah
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, um yeah
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, um mean it, get down
Woo, who
Oh yeah, get on down
Oh yeah
Oh yeah!
Tell me baby, what’s my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, what’s my name
I tell you one time, you’re to blame

These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project called “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 Fridays and dissect on Mondays via podcast.

Author’s Note: Depending on how Jinn and Dogwood are feeling, their writings, posts, or podcasts may warrant an R rating for mature content (99% of this comes from Dogwood).

Godspeed… and I hope you enjoy our project.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: Sympathy For The Devil
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Salt II

Baptism (Garage Fiction #14)

The water was black and cool. The spring sun had yet to fully warm the lake. But even with the chill Salia was undeterred.  Her foot broke the surface of the water sending a slight shock up her spine. She smiled widely as she saw William ahead, waste deep and waiting for her.

This was nothing like the lake back Iran, blistering under a desert sun.   A rite of passage she was told.  Born into it.  But she was young.  The only thing she remembered was the cheers as she came up for air.  She’d checked the box.  But the questions lingered for nearly 20 years.  Was it free will or just obedience to her parents. Was it real? Did it take?  Was she really clean from the inside out?

Today, there would be no doubt.

William held out his had as she waded toward him.  His angelic face and soft-spoken manner gave the image of a dutiful pastor, but belied the warrior blood that coursed through his veins.  After Chaplaincy training, William had blown through the Army’s Special Forces Qualification Course graduating first in his class. Salia had admired how soldiers respected him for his Green Beret. But he’d told her it was just a tool.  A tool God would use to put him in the perfect places to wage war.

“For we do not battle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” He had said this was his “life verse”.  A word that was more than scripture, it was a calling.

She had heard the scripture before, maybe childhood, maybe a passing sermon.  But when William spoke, something came alive inside her.  Like scales falling off her eyes she had perfect vision.  She saw herself marrying William, sharing life, and waging war in the heavenly places.  Whatever that meant.

That was ten months ago, And with only a few weeks before the wedding.   She wanted make sure it took this time. Being fully buried in the likeness of his death and raised in the likeness of his resurrection.  The old woman would fall away and all would become new.   This time it was her choice.  Her own free will.

The water rose above her knees giving the tender olive skin on her thighs an icy lick.  Laughing and smiling wide, she hopped from one foot to the other other as the crisp water enveloped the her white skirt.  Stumbling forward William reached out and grabbed her hand to brink her close.

She could hear him speaking, “because of your profession of faith, I know baptize you in the name …” but it sounded miles away.

Looking up, Salia could see the Holy Spirit descended on her in bodily form like a dove. And a voice coming from heaven: “You are my daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

It was different this time.  Joy flooded through her body as William pulled her up from the water.

Breathless she tried to speak, “Dddid you sssee that?”

William’s eyes were smiling.  He didn’t even need to speak.  She knew he had seen it.  The anointing had fallen.  Sealed by the Holy Spirit William and Salia’s conscription was complete.  War would be waged together, until death do they part.

Salia’s eyes began to move rapidly behind her closed eyelids.  Cracking them open slowly she allowed the lamplight to gain some real estate as woke up.  Night had fallen and the house was unsettlingly still.  Salia looked around the room in under the dim light of her reading lamp.  Leaning her head back in the recliner she looked at the ceiling.  Without a sound, a tear began to form, filling the outside corner of her right eye.  The surface tension couldn’t take the flow and it sent a silent tear from her eye to her ear.

It had been seven years since William passed away in his sleep right beside her.   Salia had made peace with it.  God’s will.  His work on this earth was done.  She just wished he was here.  The battle was raging and growing bigger every day.

The nights were always the hardest.  In the stillness Salia would quiet herself and pray.  Alone she pressed in.  And the deeper she dove, the greater the revelation.  She could see the battles in the heavenly places moving between America, Europe and the Middle East like pieces on a chess board.  But she needed specifics.  She knew the heavenly host needed specific prayers.

“But when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

She pressed on.  “I need you Holy Spirit, please come.”

This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Dogwood Daniels…

The album cover of Monolord’s Vænir, a haunting piece of artwork painted by Julio Reyes.


These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project called “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 Fridays and dissect on Mondays via podcast.

Author’s Note: Depending on how Jinn and Dogwood are feeling, their writings, posts, or podcasts may warrant an R rating for mature content (99% of this comes from Dogwood).

Godspeed… and I hope you enjoy our project.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: The Hunter’s Funeral Procession
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Dreams

Molech (Garage Fiction #13)

Balaam was already late. And he knew there’d be hell to pay.  His only hope was that Molech would be to busy to take notice.  Either that or have some pity that he’d fought Raphael and Micah for nearly three days across the Atlantic, just to make the meeting.

Rubbing the triskelion scar burned into his chest, he took a moment to collect himself before entering the council chamber

What looked like three interlocking spirals was actually the mark of the beast, whose number is 666.tumblr_lkeolbiflb1qiz2vro1_1280

If only I hadn’t been allured by the blinding light of his charms and lies, he thought. I would be winning this war from the other side.

Even though his destiny was set, he’d tortured himself every day, second guessing his decision to join the others at the fall. All of this could have been different.  One act of pride and eternity lost.

It was too late now.  He gathered his thoughts, and took a deep breath as he entered the old textile factory on the outskirts of Mosul.

While the outside of the building bore the scars of war, etched on nearly every inch of its forty-foot high walls, the inside was immaculate.  Balaam could see Namir al-Baghadadi and his staff preparing furiously for the arrival of the new Caliph.

The ruthless leader of Islamic State had dropped his given name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for the divine Caliph Ibrahim. And it didn’t matter if the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims agreed or not.

Once Caliph of an established Caliphate had been declared, all Muslims would have to respond to him. And with nearly 30,000 people already killed or wounded at the hands of his militants, Caliph Ibrahim would make sure they did.

When his spokesman announced the new Caliph, he made the his stance eminently clear stating “The legality of all emirates, groups, states and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the caliph’s authority and the arrival of its troops to their areas. Listen to your caliph and obey him.”

And while forces in the west, were still debating whether Islamic State was a threat, or even a true Caliphate, Middle East Muslims were shaking in mortal fear as the Caliph took more and more real estate through out the region.

Confiscating all the oil fields of Syria, as well as oil fields in central Iraq, the new Islamic State started generating more than $90 million dollars a month, over $1 billion annually.  And this war chest is only going to get bigger when they stage their first attack on Saudi Arabia, doubling or tripling oil prices even if they don’t succeed in taking Saudi land.

But as threatening as Caliph Ibrahim and his army might be right now, it paled in comparison to what Molech had in store for the region.  Ushering in a Caliph was just the practice run.  The next leader would have a global impact and reach that eclipsed all world leaders combined.

Balaam could already feel the heat. It was dry as a bone.  Much too hot for Namir al-Baghadadi and his men, or even the Caliph.  But they’d never know the different.  The meeting would happen just over their heads and they wouldn’t have a clue.

Making his way to the center of the factory, he could see the fire raging on every wall.  The others had already gathered around the table as Molech looked up, piercing Balaam’s ears with an mind splitting roar.

“You’re Late!”

Balaam could feel his power, compressing him from every side.  Just as prayer and faith, empower Angels and the host of heave, the same holds true for the fallen.  A demon gets stronger as more people believe in him.  And Molech was as strong as he’d ever been.

While most people believe they were worshiping the Caliph, it was Molech who was growing in power.  He was now the King of the Lavant.  And his rule stretched from the Taurus Mountains of Turkey in the north, the Arabian desert in the east.    

“Why do you always test me Balaam?”

“I was detained by Rafae…”

“Silence.”  Molech’s voice boomed through the fiery hall.  All the other powers and principalities seated around the table dropped their heads, doing anything to stay off the radar.

“Yo are late again.  I can feel our weakness.  Your mind and heart are elsewhere.”

“I am with you till the end Sire. It is my destiny to serve you and this council.” Balaam forced the fervor into his voice.  If Molech new the depth of his doubt, he would be banished instantly and the eternal torment would start.  At lest by playing his part, he could avoid the weeping and gnashing of teeth for another decade, or century, or as long as they had free reign.

“Forgive me your highness.  I am tired.  The prayers of the saints in the West have been strong. Too strong.  And the enemy has been fortified.  More and more people are having the eyes of their hearts opened, seeing this war for what it is. And as they do, they are falling on their knees in fervent prayer. Please know my lord, I do not mean to test you. In fact, I need your help, to reign in the saints in the States. It has reached a critical phase.”

Molech eyed Balaam from the other end of room. Making his way around the table he approached Balaam, looking for any hint of a lie.

Balaam didn’t flinch.  He pulled his shoulders back and raised his head ever-so-slightly, just enough to confirm his strength and loyalty, but not enough to offend his lord.

“Something has bewitched you my son.  I can tell.  I am not sure what it is, but know this I will find out.  If it’s something out of our control so be it.  But if I find out you’ve betrayed this operation, you will rue the day you joined this legion. I will leave it up to you.”

Molech swiftly turned to head back to his seat at the head of the table.  All eyes were riveted on Balaam.  Dropping his head, he could see beneath the council chamber as the Caliph arrived. The stage was set.  As Balaam joined the others at the council table he knew there would be no turning back.

This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by me, Jinn Zhong…

The Triskelion symbol, as found in various cultures and history.

These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project called “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 Fridays and dissect on Mondays via podcast.

Author’s Note: Depending on how Jinn and Dogwood are feeling, their writings, posts, or podcasts may warrant an R rating for mature content (99% of this comes from Dogwood).

Godspeed… and I hope you enjoy our project.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: Collider
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Bereaved

Infidels (Garage Fiction #12)

“I don’t care what you say bitch!” Madhia Screamed.

Barreling into her room her mother lunged with the fury of a rabid animal, “What did you call me?”

Madhia cowered on the floor in the space between her desk and the bed with her arms over her face.  She’d been pushing the limits for more and more over the last few weeks and this time she was sure she’d pushed to far.  She could see the fists raining down on her, but they never came. Her mother proved weak once again.

Like most teenagers caught between childhood and adulthood, Madhia tested the boundaries to see where the family stopped and she started. She wasn’t trying to piss her parents off, it was just a byproduct of trying to find her identity.

One day she’d lash out, stretching the bounds of reason, and the next she’d be a docile sleep-a-holic, loathing the thought of getting out bed before noon.  But that was because she had no vision.  No vision until now.  Everything was clear to her now.

From her crouched position, Madhia tried to calm the tempest as best she could.

From behind the shelter of her forearms she yelled, “I’m sorry Mom …  I’m sorry … I didn’t mean it.”  They were empty words masked by fake emotions.  She just needed a few more minutes to get through this morning and then the journey would start.  Destiny.

Hearing the emotional cry, Madhia’s mother pulled her fist back before it swung down.

Pointing her finger down at her, “You’d better be sorry.  You have no right to speak to me that way.  Your father and I have given you everything.  And there you go, spitting on us once again. You should be ashamed.

Ashamed. Madhia thought.  You both should be ashamed.  Ashamed for not honoring Allah and allowing these  infidels to corrupt you with their worldly ways.

Madhia stood up as her mother backed up.  She watched her head drop as she turned and walked out of her room.  All bark no bite, she thought. In about ten minutes her mother would start a dramatic display of hurt and disappointment.  And as long as Madhia kept her cool and played along everything would be back to normal by dinner time.

It  hadn’t always been like this.  Just a few short years ago, they were in Iraq and the family was fully connected.  They were constantly engaged.  They had to be.  It was the only way to survive as the country crumbled around them.  But here, London was a farce.  All her mother talked about was what so-and-so did at the tennis club, while her father had become a workaholic physician to support their new Western lifestyle.

Back in Iraq.  Everyone had virtually everything in common.  Family, neighbors, friends, everyone was willing to help everyone else.  Yes it was survival, but what they all shared together as a family and community was real.  A real connection.  Not this new life of bullshit.

Her teachers were bullshit.  Her schoolmates were bullshit. And her parents had followed suit.

Real life had nothing to do about with latest cell phone or Burberry scarf or Louis Vuitton hand bag.  This was emptiness.  But she didn’t expect anything more from infidels. From shallow people who’d never witnessed the body of a lifeless child pulled from the rubble of a coalition air strike.   None of them had to work shift-on / shift-off to care for wounded innocents caught on the wrong end of a mortar shell.

It was survival, but it was real.  Not some artificial reality show invented in the mind of a infidel to entertain the masses while they sold new cars, perfume, pots and pans, or the latest fashion.

Madhi’s new home was no home at all.  It was a breeding ground for infidels.  And her mother and father had already betrayed Allah by bringing her here.

Grabbing the brown canvas duffel from the bottom of her closet, Madhia opened her bedroom window and gently tossed it out onto the grass.

She unzipped the school bag on her bed. It was already filled with some extra hajibs, toiletries, her journal, and a Macbook.  But today, there would be no school.

She opened the front cover of the Quran on her desk and ran her hand across the flap of the envelope.  Looking inside, she pulled out the boarding pass for Istanbul.  In bright red she saw the Turkish Airlines logo, the only airline that anyone over the age of twelve to ly lone.  It was her first reward for being loyal to the cause.

After more than four months of talking online with Amir, he had taken care of everything.  All she had to do was pledge allegiance to the new Islamic Caliphate and she would be on her way to supporting the cleansing of her homeland and supporting the mujihadeen.

Madhia had only seen pictures of Amir.  But his handsome face, and poetic words melted her heart.  The romance of being a bride on a holy mission was almost more than she could take.  Even thought the Quran prohibited women from waging jihad, her support of these holy warriors would bring eternal blessing just the same.

For once she would be respected for who she was. No longer bound by the elementary control of her Westernized parents.

Madhia weaved her way toward the side door.  The smell of muffins and fresh jam wafted through the kitchen, giving her a moments pause.  “I’m sorry mom.  I hope one day we will understand each other more.”

“I think we will, it just takes time my dear.”  With a slight hint of dismay, Madhia’s mother turned and gave her a hug, never knowing it would be the last.

This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by me …

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. – Proverbs 29:18

These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project called “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 Fridays and dissect on Mondays via podcast.

Author’s Note: Depending on how Jinn and Dogwood are feeling, their writings, posts, or podcasts may warrant an R rating for mature content (99% of this comes from Dogwood).

Godspeed… and I hope you enjoy our project.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: Black Seed
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: See?