Showing posts with label 15 For 15. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 15 For 15. Show all posts

Monday, January 17, 2011

Off-the-Cuff Contest Entry #3

This is the exact photo prompt for yesterday's 15 For 15 Contest.  My strategy when drawing inspiration from these prompts is to avoid the obvious, and find the clever story hidden deep in the picture.  This time, for example, I didn't want to do a western-style story, a cowboys and Indians scenario, or a period piece from the 1800s.  Here is what I did come up with.  As always, forgive the punctuation and verb tense mishaps.  I wrote this in exactly 15 minutes (maybe going over by 30 seconds or so...)

Don't be too quick to judge, Lydia's inner voice chastised. She peered through the restaurant's front windows, but humidity fogged it from the inside. She took a deep breath and pulled open the door.

It wasn't so much a restaurant as it was a bar. This thought, too, dripped with conflicted disdain, and Lydia scolded herself again. This was what she'd expected, after all. She was meeting a man for the first time who she'd connected with on an online dating site. Of course the restaurant turned out to be a bar. And the hot guy in Stuart's profile picture would probably turn out to be George Costanza.

Her eyes scanned the scene that seemed to dance with the strobing lights. A hand shot up, waved. And there he was, standing and smiling, beckoning to her. Oh God, Stuart was even more gorgeous than the photo.

Talk of their work, her at the library and him in Delivery and Receiving, was brief. The dance floor called to them. They laughed the evening away. Her life as a librarian was turning upside down in a matter of hours. With each martini she decided with firmer resolve to stop living life in hushed tones. It was time for her to live out loud. Stuart, Lydia was pleased to learn, could really move his body. And there was a sense of humor to his style of dance, like he didn't take himself too seriously. She liked that. It was refreshing.

Hours later and after constant shushing of her prudent inner voice, they ended up at Stuart's apartment. He went to the kitchette to open a bottle of wine, leaving Lydia at the other end of the studio's main room. An armoire stood in the corner, its door ajar. Lydia shot a look at Stuart's back, muscles rippling as he worked the cork screw. She giggled, emboldened by the liquor, and swung open the armoire door. Her jaw dropped.

Costumes hung from one end of the armoire to the other. Sequins and leather, uniforms of every sort, handcuffs, whips, hats. She reached a shaky hand in and pulled a hanger out. Cowboy regalia including a gun holster, sheriff's badge, boots with spurs and chaps dangled before her shock-stricken face. Stuart's shuffled step sounded behind her. She spun around.

"What the hell is all this?"

"My work clothes," Stuart answered with a gleem in his eye.

"I thought you were in "Delivery and Receiving."

"Yeah, I deliver singing telegrams, sometimes. I also strip for parties. Bachelorette, birthday, retirement... Hey, you chose my favorite. This is an awesome act. Wanna see it?"

Lydia stared at his open, honest face. Pure joy shone in his eyes. There was no embarrassment, no shyness. No hushed tones. Her eyes dove down, scanned his body and then lingered on the items on the hanger in her hand.

Remember, her inner voice cooed, don't be too quick to judge...


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Off-the-Cuff Contest Entry #1

This isn't the exact photo prompt from yesterday's 15 For 15 Contest (read contest explanation here), but it's close enough.  In the original, the trees have no leaves, taken in wintertime.  The following is my entry, written (per the contest rules) in only 15 minutes.  The goal is not to have a polished, typo-free piece.  There are plenty of places I would have liked to tighten up, but didn't have the time.  So, here it is, raw, by-the-seat-of-my-pants writing. :D

Marcus dragged on the cigarette pinched between his index finger and thumb. Numbing cold seeped through his britches from the park bench, despite its position in full sun, but he didn't mind. He'd rather sit here all day than return to work. When you rinse four star restaurant slop off fine China all day, you face your 'have-not' reality every minute of every hour. It wore him down. His fifteen minute break was more valuable to him than the restaurant's finest bottle of wine.

He blew a plume of smoke downwind and his eyes fell on the man making his way up the path. Marcus narrowed his eyes. The man's utilitarian clothing appeared too big for his frame and hung on his body like a sack. His bald head was dropped back and he stared straight up at the sky as he walked. As he neared Marcus's bench, the toe of his black rubber shoe hit a rock and he stumbled.

"Eh. Watch where you're going, dumb ass," Marcus said.

The man leveled his gaze. He was younger than Marcus had first thought. His drawn skin and stubbled chin suggested mid-forties, but now Marcus decided he couldn't be older than thirty.

"Yeah. Thanks," the man said. "It's just the sky is so blue. And those trees, well, they're things of beauty."

Marcus looked up. The trees looked dead to him. Leafless. Cold. "Whatever, man," he said, looking across the park to the restaurant. By his watch, he had five more minutes before he had to get back.

"Mind if I sit down?"

Marcus saw the man still stood there. He motioned his indifference.

"I just got out of the slammer," the man said, sitting.

An eyebrow shot up. He had Marcus's attention. "You were in prison?"

"Yeah, ten years, man."

"What'd you do?"

"I was convicted of attempted murder. But it was bullshit. Someone tried to whack my wife. They pinned it on me."

Marcus raised his chin. "No kidding. That sucks, man."

The man chuckled, but there was no humor in the sound. "Shit. Ten years is a long time to not see trees. I can't stop looking at them."

"You served your whole sentence?"

"Nope. Turns out my wife's boyfriend did it. Thank God for all that fancy DNA testing they can do now. Found out a week ago, and today I'm free. Just like that."

"Your wife's boyfriend...?" Marcus asked while checking his watch. He had to get back. "That's some story. Glad you're out. I gotta get back to work." He offered his hand as he stood to leave.

The man shook it. Marcus took a few steps then turned to look over his shoulder.

"What's the first thing you're going to do, now that you're a free man?" Marcus asked.

The man smiled a churlish grin, cold as the trees. "First thing I'm gonna do is kill my wife."