Inspiration Part 4 (Garage Fiction #27)

This is Part 4 of a series.  Click here for Part 1


White chairs stood at attention as they faced the arbor and waited patiently to welcome the guests.

A simple elegant wedding adorned with lilies, birds of paradise, and other tropical flowers befitting the lush surroundings of the Hemingway estate.

Morgan was taking in the surroundings but none of it mattered to him.  He couldn’t take his eyes off her.  Every time she spoke or made a move he took mental notes of everything he liked about her.  How her eyes squinted when she smiled. The slight upward turn of her nose from a Scandinavian heritage. And her rich full lips that were a bittersweet reminder of the first girl that broke his heart back in high school.

But more than anything was how Otis wouldn’t leave her side.  He had already made her part of the family.

Morgan watched as Otis sat on his haunches breathing calmly in the summer heat. Sigrid’s hand rested on his collar, giving a hint of authenticity to the ruse.

Sigrid had positioned him so when guests shot them odd looks for bringing a dot to a wedding, Sigrid would smile a warming smile then mouth the words “s-e-r-v-i-c-e d-o-g”.  Disarmed by her beauty or bluntness or both, guests gave a wary but affirming nod as they found their chairs.

“I can’t recall ever crashing a wedding before.”

Looking at Morgan with a bright smile “it’s a first for me too.”

Catching her soft green eyes, Morgan lingered for a moment. The warmth of her smile drew him in again.  Even thought they’d only just met it was like she could see through him.  No hiding. No trying to be something he was’t. All he had to do was just be.  Be right here right now.  It was a relaxed, peaceful feeling he’d lost long ago as he sought to please his parents, his friends, his colleagues, without ever taking time for himself.  So for now, he was going to soak it in for as long as he could.

Looking over Morgan’s left shoulder toward the center aisle, Sigrid’s face light up as her eyes grew wide.  Turning around Morgan saw a stunning bride and what was presumably her father.  Guests stood as the cello began to play.

Sigrid and Morgan looked at each other with a playful grin as they carried on as dutiful wedding guests for couple they’d never met.

As the ceremony continued, the two stole playful looks.  Without saying a word the conversation went like this.

I can’t believe were doing this.

Crazy isn’t it.

Yeah, but exhilarating.


Otis watched the whole exchange.  And Morgan could see the level of delight rise over his four legged friend.  He knew time was short.  At any moment, Otis could make this as bad as chasing the cats around the estate.  But as he took another look at Sigrid as she watched the bride walk down the aisle, he thought how the whole chasing cats thing  hadn’t turned out so bad.

As the wedding guests sat and the nuptials began, Morgan could see Otis was getting restless. He tried staring him down, but Otis just looked at Sigrid and got a confirming pat on the head.

Looking back at Morgan, Otis let him know it was time.  Morgan knew him too well and he could sense exactly what Otis was saying. We go now or this is going to get ugly.

Leaning into Sigrid’s ear, “I think were going to need to go in a minute.”

Sigrid turned to Morgan with a puzzled look until she turned and looked at Otis.

And now that he had both of their attention, he let out a massive “Bark!” An I’ve been cooped up in the house, stand near the door and make my master move kinda bark.

The entire wedding came to a halt as all eyes were on the disrupters in the back left corner. Red faced, the pair feigned innocent shrugs as Morgan expressed his regret with a semi-audible claim to keep the ruse in play “so sorry … service dog.”

Family members and guests looked at each other shaking heads with a clear looks of “whew, there not with me.” Once the nuptials started again, the trio made their break. Backing away from the chairs toward the rear of the clearing Morgan grabbed Sigrid’s hand and tucked through the lush tropical foliage and quickly gained ground.

Once out of earshot, Sigrid and Morgan let out a burst of laughter as they jogged toward the open gate while Otis ran circles around the pair.

But before they could congratulate themselves on keeping the embarrassment to a minimum, Otis spotted the old tabby laying on top of the waist high brick wall near the gate.  On instinct and adrenalin, Otis took off as Morgan and Sigrid gave chase.

This time the tabby was ready.  After the last scare, it was clear that the old cat was a bit more vigilant. With his head on a swivel the old cat saw Otis coming.  Springing up it ran along the top of the wall as Otis bolted out the gate and tore down the sidewall.  As the cat neared the corner, it took a dive on the opposite side of the wall leaving Otis flat footed and full bark.

Morgan made it to Otis first hollering with his alpha dog voice, “Otis! Stop!”  Looking at Morgan Otis let out a few more barks until Sigrid showed up.

The trio stood their panting. Otis looked for signs of the cat. Megan and Sigrid looked around for scowls. Once in the clear.  Morgan and Sigrid looked at each other and laughed.

“What now?” Sigrid asked.  Hinting at more adventure.

“Why don’t we figure that out over lunch.”

“Ok. Sounds good. Where to?”

“Captain Tony’s.  It’s just a few blocks up the road.  About a half-a-block from Sloppy Joe’s.  The owners claim its the original Sloppy Joe’s where Hemingway drank and wrote.

“Ahh I see.  So if the Hemingway house doesn’t give you any inspiration, you head for the bar.”

“Man’s gotta do, what a man’s…”

“Save it. You have plenty of inspiration.  You just don’t trust yourself yet.”

There she goes again.  Morgan thought.  Right for the jugular.

“Oh is that so?”

“Yup.” Sigrid shot a furtive smile.  “But you will.  I can tell.”

“How’s that?”

“Because you haven’t left.  You took to today’s adventure without missing a beat. Inspiration is right around the corner.”

“Yeah at the bar.”

“No. I mean it’s…”

“I know what you meant. I was kidding.  I’m already inspired.”

Sigrid looked down at Otis trying to hide an acceptant smile and the light pink tinge that started to flow across her porcelain cheeks.

He knew he’d struck a cord. It was clear his inspiration had come.  His mind was flooded with new ideas.  No more writing about robots or world war three.  Hollow stories he tried to force into a voice he hadn’t discovered yet.  A voice he hadn’t found until now. All he wanted now was to be present and savor every moment. The words were already starting to come.

“There you go. I can see it in your face.”

“Your starting to trust yourself.”

Morgan smiled a confident smile as he led the trio to Captain Tony’s.  One more step in the journey of a thousand miles.

This is Part 4 of a series.  Click here for Part 5

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

An article on Newser regarding “a story out of Germany is sure to spur lots of lines about our future overlords: A robot killed a worker inside a Volkswagen plant, reports the Financial Times.”



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: Le Loyon
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: A Poem for Penelope, Part 3

Poetry or Inspiration, Part 3 (Garage Fiction #26)

This is Part 3 of a series.  Click here for Part 1


Morgan couldn’t bear the thought of a girl this beautiful dying so young. It didn’t seem fair. Especially now that he and Otis had just met her.

Sitting next to Sigrid on the iron bench outside the Hemingway Estate, he watched her lean in againt to pet Otis with both hands. A few strands of her long blonde hair fell off her shoulder and cascaded over Otis’ head.

Please God let them be wrong. Morgan’s didn’t want to believe she was going to die.

Petting Otis intently Sigrid asked, “So what brought you to Key West?”

“I live just a few hours north, in Miami. And when I get stuck sometimes I like to come down here to see if Hemingway tells me anything. Perhaps something more than write one true sentence.”

“So you’re a writer?”

“I’m trying to be.”

“You’re either a writer or you aren’t. Which is it?”

Stung by her bluntness, Morgan stuttered, “Well I…”

“It’s quite simple actually.” Sigrid started with out turning away from Otis. “We are what we believe we are. So if you are trying to be a writer, then you aren’t one. But if you believe you’re already writer, then you are one. You’re just a writer who’s stuck, but you’re still a writer. So which one is it. Are you a writer or not?”

Morgan knew she was right. After leaving the ad agency to become a writer, he was still stuck in the becoming. He thought about writer, talked about writing and even researched writing. But still got stuck when it came to the writing. Part fear and part feelings of not being good enough. Whatever it was he stayed stuck because he didn’t believe he was a writer yet. Fact is, he was always a writer. As a copywriter of a national ad agency, he’d been writing copy for adversing for years. And he was paid handsomely for it. So not only was he writer, he was a professional writer. He just didn’t believe it yet. But as he looked at Sigrid, the girl he’d just met, he wanted to believe things were different. He wanted to believe he was a writer. And as he thought about her piercing words he decided it was time to step into it.

Morgan pushed the words out, willing them to be true. “I-am-a-writer.”

Turning from Otis, Sigrid gave Morgan wide smile, “Well done. That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

Morgan’s face turned a pale shade of pink. He’d never had a girl call him out in a way that actually built him up. Made him believe more in himself than he did on his own. His experience had always been with only two types of girls. Girls like Genevieve who focused solely on what they wanted, and damn the rest. Or girls that had no idea what they wanted and lacked an opinion on anything. Both types had usually ended with a broken relation.

And that’s precisely why Morgan didn’t want to leave the iron bench for a minute. Something about Sigrid made him want to hear more about her. Everything.

“Not afraid to speak your mind are you.”

Turning from Otis she looked him in the eye, “Life is short. No time to waste.”’

It pained him to think she only had a year to live. Why her? Why now?

“Ok. Now you know something about me. Tell me something about you.”

“Other than the dying part?” She smiled.

“Yes. Other than the dying part.”

“After the diagnosis, I took a three month trip around the world with my mom and dad.”

“That’s sounds awesome. I mean the travel part.”

“It was a great trip. Most of it was spent in Europe and Africa. I had thought of going to South America for a while. But after three months abroad it was good to get back to the States. Plus I told my mom and dad I didn’t want them sitting around looking at the clock with me.”

“Are you looking at the clock?”

Not really. I just wanted them to keep living life. Sitting around and making every conversation about how short time is wasn’t going to help any of us.

“Great. So what else do you want to talk about.” Morgan wanted her to keep talking. She could talk about anything. Just keep talking.

“So when did you know you wanted to become a writer.”

Morgan thought back at all the times he’d thought about writing. “I’m not sure. I think I’ve always had something inside that I’ve wanted to get out, I just haven’t figured out what it is yet.”

“What was the first thing you remember writing. Something that was your’s and your’s alone.”

Morgan sat silently for a moment. As Otis moved a little closer to Sigrid looking for some much needed attention.

As she complied with Otis’ demands. Morgan remembered as far back as he could.

“I think it would be when I was six. I wrote a poem.”


“And what?”

“What was the poem?”

Morgan knew the poem by heart. But he hesitated in reciting it. It was a childish rhyme from a six year old boy.

“Look if you think its silly reciting a poem from when you were a little boy and you need some time to work up the courage, take all you need. I’m in no hurry.”

Her words made him laugh while simultaneously tearing through his heart like a dull knife. Here he was thinking he’d look like a fool for reciting a childhood poem while the beautiful women he just met and could’t stand the thought of letter her out of his sight would be dead within a year.

“The Birds. By Morgan Henry…

The birds up high, the birds down low,
The Birds above the birds below,
Up high, down low
Above, below
Where do birds go?”

“Quite contemplative for a six year old.”

Once again Morgan felt lifted up by her assuring smile and soft tone. He wasn’t sure if it was her beauty, her disposition, or the fact that life was ebbing away from her with every passing minute.

“Thank you kindly.” Morgan bowed his head slightly as if the bench were stage. “Ok. It’s your turn.”

“My turn for what?”

“…To be vulnerable. I’ve only known you for ten minutes and I’ve already told you things I’ve never told anyone before. Except my mom when I was six.”

“Ok.” Pausing for a moment, Sigrid let lose. “My father was one of the first 100 employees at Microsoft. And even after all these years, with more money than we know what to do with, he won’t stop working. I think that’s why I left Seattle and came to the other side of the country. Even with the trip around the world, I think I’m a little mad that I still really don’t know my dad.”

Morgan was amazed at how deep the conversation was going in such a short period of time. He wanted to suspend time and sit with Sigrid forever. Right here. Right now. He wanted to know everything about her. He didn’t care that it all might be short lived. He just didn’t want the moment to end.

As he sat and looked at her attend to Otis, making him the happiest dog on the planet, the silence was broken by the man in the suit.

“Are you members of the wedding party?”

Morgan looked passed the man, through the tropical brush and palm trees, where he could see the wedding guests filing into their seats near the arbor outside of the near the Hemingway house.

“No. We’re…” Morgan stopped short as Sigrid chimed in.

“We’re not in the wedding party. Just guests of the groom.”

Morgan’s head snapped sideways as he couldn’t believe what he’d just heard.

“Well you should be getting ready. The ceremony will begin in less than 10 minutes.”

Sigrid grabbed Otis’ collar as she stood up. Smiling at Morgan she said, “You only live once.”


This is Part 3 of a series.  Click here for Part 4

This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Dogwood .  A poem by Edgar Allen Poe …

A Dream Within a Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?


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 Sundays and dissect on Tuesdays via podcast.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: My Dead Girlfriend
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: A Poem for Penelope, Part 2

The Badger (Garage Fiction #25)

Shut down for months, the only thing that kept the dust from piling high at The Facilities was the janitor’s weekly rounds.

It was his job to keep the place spotless until The Management returned.

At least that’s what Rocco had come to understand after watching the janitor each year during the shut down. And now that he was once again taking extra time in every room on both floors, he knew today was the day.

The day The Management would flood the building with a new order for the coming year, especially if they had a new leader.

That’s precisely why Rocco called the meeting.

He and the other three were all Old Timers. That meant when The Management showed up, one of two things was going to happen.

The four of them would either be sent back to Holding or they would be shipped off to Obsolescence.  Tensions were high as Rocco had them circle up to discuss what to do.

“Look guys, the only way we are going to tip the scales back in our favor is if we take a stand today. Once that door opens, and if The Management sees us as nothing special, we are toast. So I want to know you’re all in.”

“I-I-don’t know Rocco. I-I don’t think this is a good idea. Maybe we should just stay in our place and see what happens.”

“Are you kidding Julius? You want to wait around and see what happens? Let me tell you what’s going to happen. The Management always packs this place with Newbies before all the Half-Pints arrive. Half-Pints like things shiny and new, so The Management weeds out the Old Timers like us to make room for Newbies.”

Frank chimed in, “You make it sound like some New World Order Rocco. But I think you’re just paranoid. When I got here last year, the Half-Pints loved me. I’m a bunny for crying out loud. What Half-Pint doesn’t like bunnies.”

“You don’t get it Frank. It’s not about who you are, its about how old your are. Everything these days is all about new, new, new. If you’re a bunny, you need a one gigabyte chip that can have you rattling of Half-Pint names like your their best friend, then sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in English or Spanish, depending on which room you land in. Point is you need to be adaptable. Being a bunny isn’t enough anymore. You gotta be able to do stuff, stuff that Half-Pint’s like. Or you have to be unique. Take Janice for instance.

“What about what about me?!”Janice shot Rocco a terse look.

Rocco smiled at her and kept talking to Frank.

“She’s a Badger Frank. And badgers are cool. Their different. And even though she’s a little older than all of us, Half-Pint’s dig her because they don’t get to see a badger everyday. Plain and simple. That’s what I am trying to tell you guys. In order for all of us to stand out and make sure we don’t get sent off to Obsolescence, we need to take a stand today. We need to show we’re all different. And we’re worth keeping.”

“Shhh. Quiet!” Julius put his paws on Rocco and Frank’s shoulders as his eyes darted around each of them. Being a rabbit gave him an advantage as  his eyes were on the sides of his head.  That we  he could see things coming from nearly every direction. “I think I heard them.”

“The Management?” Frank’s eyes started darting around as well.

“Shhh!” Rocco did an about face and was now staring at the double doors across the room.

The click of the latch echoed across the abandoned room. And as the door opened, all four animals hit the deck. Their goal was to make it look natural. Just four toy’s left over from last year’s Half-Pints.

Scratching his short white beard, the janitor talked to himself aloud. “I coulda’ swarn these things was picked up!”

Half way to Rocco and the other three, the slam of another set of double doors down the hall stopped him in his tracks.

“Walter? You in here?”

“Yes Ma’am. I am.” Walter turned back toward the hall as Rocco heard the click-clack of The Management’s shoes on the floor.

Giving Frank, Julius, and Janice a hard stare, Rocco made one last plea for them to take a stand with him. “Guys, That’s The Management. I can tell by the click on the floor.”

“I-Is … i-it … her?” Julius could barely get the words out as he shook from head to toe.

“I don’t think so. Her voice isn’t the same as last year. But don’t worry about that, we don’t have time. Get up, stand in a little circle like a Half-Pint was playing with us.

“But the Janitor already saw us, if we move, he’ll suspect something.”

“Frank, not now. You have to trust me. This is our last chance.”

The four of them scurried into position as The Management and Walter came into the room.  Rocco could see The Management’s leader was new. His heart sank. He was certain the old leader would have given them a pass. But with a new leader, it’s always a new vision. Now their chances between a trip to Holding or Obsolescence was about fifty-fifty at best.

“Walter, I have a vision for this room. So let’s skip the planned painting and move on to…”

She stopped mid-sentence when she saw the animals in a circle on the far end of the floor.

Frank the Fox had his back to them, while Julius and Janice could see them out of the corner of their eyes. Rocco however had a clear view.  He could see her staring dead at them as the janitor rubbed his eyes with an incredulous look.

“These shouldn’t be in here.”

“I just noticed them before you came. Was gonna put them in the pre-K room.”

The Leader walked directly toward Rocco and the others. Judgement day had arrived.

“Isn’t that cute. It looks like they’re having a little meeting.”

“Kids are funny like that. Always like to imitate the grown ups.”

Rocco could tell Walter’s comment lacked confidence.

The Leader held up Janice so Walter could see her, “That’s pretty neat. I always liked badgers. Tough little critters.” I think I’ll put this little committee on the conference room table just like a found them. It might help lighten things up with the staff as we get the new school year started.

“Would you mind putting these on my desk, I’ll take care of them when I get back later today.”

Rocco could see the relief on everyone’s face as Janice gave him a wink.


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

With the following thoughts: “I took a picture of my daughter’s Playmobil forest animals conspiring. Might spark something whimsical, or not?”

(Photograph by Jinn)

(Photograph by Jinn)

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: Fox & Rabbit
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: A Poem for Penelope, Part 1


Inspiration, Part 2 (Garage Fiction #24)

This is Part 2 of a Series. Click here for Part 1 


Morgan Henry stepped out of the car backwards. He figured if he blocked the door with his body, he could restrain Otis from making a break for it.

Given the slobber up and down the passenger window after Otis saw the cat at the entrance to the Hemingway Estate, he knew there was going to be a fight.

“Sit! Sit!”

Using his best alpha dog voice. Morgan tried to keep Otis pinned to the passenger seat.  With one quick motion he backed out the car door and slammed it shut as Otis jammed a lugubrious face into the window, painting it from corner to corner as he barked and yelped for freedom.

Cursing the fact he forgot Otis’ leash, Morgan circled back to the trunk in the hope of finding a spare. Rummaging through a box of used books, some spare bike parts, and a  handful of sandy towels from their last trip to the beach.  The trunk came up empty.

Without a leash, the entire trip was on the verge of disaster. At last count there were around forty cats on the Hemingway estate.  Some were even direct decedents of the six-toed felines that graced the grounds while Hemingway was alive.

Pet store. Morgan thought of the only logical solution.  But when he reached for his phone and grabbed nothing more than the lining of his short’s pocket, the dread to set in.


Closing the trunk he walked toward the driver’s door to find Otis perched in the seat, tongue out in full pant,paws posted on the door ready for action.

Morgan fired off his alpha dog voice, “Get Back.”  The last thing Otis needed to see was weakness.  It would only fuel his ambition the moment he saw daylight.

“Get Down! Back off!”

Morgan got Otis to retreat.  Now he was straddling the console where Morgan left the phone. Reaching a hand inside the door he was able to push Otis into the passenger seat.

“Listen buddy.  You gotta work with me or we’re going home.”

Otis watched and waited. Using his body to block as much of the open door as possible, Morgan leaned in to grab the phone.  With his feet planted outside the car, the bend at his waist made perfect table top.  And that’s when Otis saw it. Daylight!

In one thrust Otis was airborne threading himself perfectly between the roof of the car and  Morgan’s back.  In the fraction of a second his legs gained purchase on the table top, and he was gone, darting around the back side of the car barreling down the sidewalk with the chest high brick wall.

By the time Morgan got out of the car, Otis was halfway to the cat at the entrance of the estate.  With forty pounds of fur closing in at mach two, the old tabby jumped a good four feet in the air before disappearing onto the grounds behind the wall .

The chase was on.

Morgan hadn’t even reached a full sprint by the time Otis hit the entrance.  With a mix of anger and embarrassment Morgan darted onto the grounds nearly ten seconds down.  And as he made his was past a through of visitors making their way to the main house his worst fears were realized.

No Otis.

Desperate. He looked for a face in the crowd that told him they knew he was the idiot who let a dog run loose in a fenced in property with forty cats.


With furrowed brow and a scolding look an otherwise nice looking couple pointed toward the side of the house. Morgan barreled around the corner of the house where staff were setting up for a wedding at the arbor.

Morgan sped past the rows of white chairs and took a turn down a gravelly trail that went through dense vegetation and palm trees only to stop dead in his tracks when he saw Otis sitting calmly next to a wrought iron bench as a cute girl with blonde hair and a flowy, floral print halter dress rubbed his head


Sitting, tail wagging, Otis turned his head as Morgan approached. Then turned back to the girl.

“I’m sorry miss, he got away from me in the parking lot and…”

“It’s no problem.”

Without the alpha dog tone in his voice, Morgan pleaded for Otis to leave her alone.

“Come here buddy, lets go.”  But Otis didn’t budge.

Embarrassed Morgan kept his gaze on Otis than the girl.  He didn’t want yet another scornful face turning the fiasco into a walk of shame.

But as he snuck a look at her face, he could see she was smiling at Otis as she continued to pet his head. Clearly Otis was more interested in the girl than sweaty, breathless Morgan.

“How did you get him to stop?”

“I didn’t.  When he came around the corner he seemed shocked by so many cats laying around and when the cats made a run for it, I don’t think he could figure out which ones to grab first.  So he just ran in circles.  And after they left, he just came over here and sat down.”

Morgan didn’t know what to think.  Forty cat’s would seem like a dream for a chase-loving dog.  But in the face of too much of a good thing, he must have shut down.

Looking from Otis back to the girl, Morgan felt an urge to keep the discussion going. “I think they call that flooding.”


“It’s a type of therapy when you expose the subject an excessive amount of something in order to change their behavior.”

You sound like an idiot, Morgan thought. “My Mom was a therapist.”


Morgan thought it odd that she picked up on the passed tense.  But her disarming smile made him feel like it didn’t matter.  Not only was she beautiful, her extraordinary mix of confidence and calm made him want to sit down and talk.  And it didn’t matter what about.

“She passed away.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Now you look like a needy idiot, Change the subject.

“I’m Morgan and it looks like you’ve already met Otis.”

She turned to Otis, petting his neck then cradling her hands around his jowls and rubbed his ears with her fingers.  “Well hello Otis.  Nice to formally make your acquaintance. I’m Sigrid.”

Otis entered a state of suspended animation.

“I think you’ve made a new friend Otis.  May I sit down?”


Morgan sat silently as she continued to pet Otis.

Breaking the silence he asked, “Are you from the area?  From the Keys, I mean?”

“No, I’m from Seattle.”

“Wow. That’s a haul. I don’t think you can get further away from Seattle and still be in the United States.

“That’s why I picked it.”

“For vacation?”

“Not really.  I just needed to get out of Seattle and this seemed like as good a place as any to start a year’s journey?”

“A year’s journey?”

“Yup.  That’s about how long I have.”

“For a sabbatical or something?”

“No.  That’s how long I have to live.”

Morgan caught himself before his facial expression or demeanor changed.

“You sure about that?”

“That’s what They said.”

“Well maybe you need to find another They.”

Segrid looked at Morgan and smiled a calm, confident smile. He caught her gaze and returned the the same, noting the nearly imperceptible crack in her secure veneer.  He continued.

“Anything can happen over a year’s time.”

Turning to look at Otis, who still hadn’t moved from his spot at her feet, she said, “You may be right.”

This is Part 2 of a Series. Click Here for Part 3

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

Ubble (or UK Longevity Explorer): A website that predicts the risk of dying within five years men and women living in the UK.

Scientific research carried out by Andrea Ganna (Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University) and Erik Ingelsson (Uppsala University)

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: Diffraction
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Session #1

Inspiration (Garage Fiction #23)

This is Part 1 of a series.  Click here for Part 2


It was eight a.m. and Morgan had already wasted two hours staring at the same uninspiring sentence.

Closing his laptop he looked down at the floor.

“Otis, we need a road trip.”

Springing onto all fours, Otis raised his ears  and cocked his head to the side in an effort to confirm the proposition.

He was a big fan of road trips, car rides, long walks or any other activity that would help him fulfill his destiny of giving a proper chase.

Truth is, it was always about the chase.  Otis was never interested in actually catching a cat.

A truth he learned the hard way when that nasty calico nearly gauged out his left eye. It took four stitches and ten days in cone confinement to make the world right again.

The vet told Morgan he could lower Otis’ aggression toward cats if he neutered him. It wasn’t a cure-all, but it might make life a little easier the next time Otis came in contact with a feline.

But Morgan couldn’t do it.  There was something inhumane about removing maleness in the name of convenience.   

Of course Genevieve was all for it.  And she nearly had Morgan convinced to follow through.

But when he backed out at the last minute, Genevieve packed up and left, taking her calico with her.

Morgan knew the dog wasn’t the real reason she left.

She’d been patient when he first left the advertising agency to make a go of it as full-time writer.  But after six months of watching Morgan’s “process” unfold, she’d warned him he was off track.

Even though he’d saved a years salary before making the leap, they agreed that he needed to have something published long before the year was up.

It could be anything. A short story, an article, something to show progress toward a goal.  If not, the year would come and go and the money would be gone.

And Genevieve made it eminently clear she wasn’t interested in supporting a starving artist on a fools errand.

But even under the threat of losing her, Morgan couldn’t seem to get a story finished. His “process” had him pining away as he searched for an elusive muse that could help him cross the creative finish line.

The sort of inspiration that would melt his doubts and fears and thereby magically erase his the time wasting habits he’d come to love and hate all at the same time.

Habits that helped him cope with the dread of finding something meaningful to write about.  Or worse yet, wondering  if anything he wrote would be worth reading.

Unconsciously arguing with himself over what to write, when to write, or even how to approach writing, Morgan found himself following the same rituals week after week as he sat down with his good intentions.

He’d reorganize his desk to make sure there was nothing to distract him.  He’d hand wash the dishes or knock out some other household chore to make sure he didn’t have nagging thoughts of a to-do list that could keep him from his craft.

Then just to make certain he wouldn’t have to break his concentration, he would walk Otis one last time.  This way he knew he had about three uninterrupted hours where he could write.

Precious writing time that he would invariably use to look for inspiration on writing from websites filled with famous quotes from great books like Stephen King’s On Writing, Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, and Ray Bradbury’s Zen and the Art of Writing among others.

And if this didn’t kick start the writing flow, Morgan would carve out some time to switch up his writing software to better manage creative ideas.

Over the past six months, he’d gained some decent proficiency with Scrivener, Storyist, Ulysses III, and other programs in an effort to distance himself from less-artistic programs like Word.  His thinking was if one program didn’t meet the need at a given time, he could always switch it up and re-focus his effort.

And in though times when this creative “process” broke down as the the blank page stared at him with a vile hatred of every creative bone in his body, Morgan would strike back with a pen, legal pad, and a road trip.

Today was one of those times.

Without hesitating, Morgan threw his legal pad and a pen into his back pack, along with a towel and some swim trunks. Otis ran a tight circle at the door, bouncing off the bottom third on each rotation.  Road trips were his thing and the hunt was on.

Grabbing his sunglasses and some food for Otis the two jumped in the car and headed to Key West.  In a little over three hours the pair would be sitting outside The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum soaking up the inspiration.

For Morgan it would come from Hemingway’s ghost but for Otis it would come from the forty cats.

“Crap Otis. I forgot your leash!”

(This is Part 1 of a series.  Click here for Part 2)

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

The Hemingway Home on 907 Whitehead Street located in Old Town Key West, Florida where Dogwood paid a visit to this past week.

His words: The home of Hemingway at the edge of the nation. Looks like a villa.

His picture:

Photo Credit: Dogwood Daniels



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:  Old Finds Bight
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Scar, P3