The man, Fred, I think he said was his name, sat opposite me in a white dress shirt that was too tight and stained. My guess was, he missed his mouth during breakfast, frequently.
An ugly belt hugged his hips keeping his stomach in check, like a dam keeping water at bay. I speculated what might happen if his belt broke loose.
“Pretty much, according to my sister, but you know how sisters can be. She swore if Mom served peas, I wanted and got carrots. But she’s an incurable liar. Miss Goody-Two-Shoes is what she calls me.”
“Did you like peas?”
“Sure, the small itty bitty kind, the frozen package says petite. And they had to be cooked right, bright green and not mushy, I hated mushy. Mom wasn’t a good cook.”
“So, you were spoiled?”
“No, I’d have eaten the fucking peas. It wasn’t about the God damn peas. It’s about power. Isn’t it? You have the power to screw me, Mr. Hot-Shot.”
“Calm down, it’s small talk.”
“Yea, small talk? I’ve been here for hours, you asking the same questions. Mr. Hot-Shot, wearing that not to expensive watch.”
The DA twisted his arm and looked at his Mavado.
“I know how to play your game. You provoke me, I get angry. Like with mom. I’ll push the peas around until they get mushy than smash the plate in the sink, and listen to the garbage disposal make a noise like an electric saw cutting up a dead body.”
“Why did you do it?”
“Mush the peas?”
“No, kill your mother.”
. . . Seriously Just Saying
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Today is Sunday, but not any Sunday, it’s Mother’s Day, a day that brings joy to many, although maybe not.
My daughter has planned a special treat for me a picnic. I love a picnic but I’m not looking forward to the occasion. My son died four years ago and for some unknown reason this year is especially difficult.
Friends have frequently asked how do you survive the death of a child and I would quote Ted Kennedy and say, “We go on for the living.”
So I will put on a big smile and sing, On a picnic we will go for it’s summertime you know, and we love to spend out Sundays in the park. Did you bring the hot dogs, hot dogs, hot dogs? Did you bring, etc.
. . . Seriously Just Saying
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K.J. Hanson describes Jeff, a character in his short story Cheapskate, as a shlub. The noun remained in my head until I wrote something.
“He’s a shlub,” said the guy at the next table.
Although unfamiliar with the expression, I couldn’t have agreed more. The restaurant was crowded, and the jerk, dressed in a worn t-shirt and a grunge baseball cap to cover a scraggly head of hair, stood out in a crowd of business people. Some chatted effortlessly, others sat people watching, like the guy alongside of me. Whose dress was trending; jeans, white t-shirt and a herringbone blazer. His companion did all the talking while the guy pretended to listen, preoccupied with the ensuing drama.
The server delivered the check to the shlub, who immediately became agitated, flinging his arms up in the air and indicating some problem with the food.
His woman friend turn red in the face as the server removed their lunch plate like it was a hot plate. She was attractive in an intellectual way and rummaged through her handbag.
I imagined they’d met on line or some dating app. You know the type, skilled at embellishment and all about himself. It was probably their first date, but clearly their last as the woman got up to leave visibly shaken.
The guy at the next table stood when she did.
“Let me get that for you,” he said.
As they left the restaurant together, the shlub yelled, “What the fuck! You can’t do that.”
He wore a scowl. A permanent look of discontent. He glared at no one particular, and rarely smiled, but if he did, the smile never reached his eyes, like a basset hound whose jowls scrapped the floor, there was no emotion.
We met years ago, although never introduced. In retrospect, the event might have been better labeled a stare down. It was a bitter and windy day. I had ducked inside a city coffee shop to escape the pelting rain and found myself sitting next to him.
“Yikes! It’s wet outside.” I said sitting and shaking my umbrella free of rain.
The stools were the old fashion metal type with no backs that were low to the ground. My wet coat added to the squeaking noises produced by my twirling in place and attempting to prevent more damage. The man looked down, studied the drips puddling on the floor then locked eyes with me.
“Sorry,” I said feeling helpless. I smiled and ordered coffee and a bagel. He said nothing.
“It’s good to get out of the rain.” I mumbled.
His forearms rested on the counter and he stared straight ahead ignoring me, although our faces were visible in the mirror adorning the back wall. After draining his coffee cup, he signaled for a refill and frowned when the hot java tip toed near the top. He was handsome.
“I’d ask you out if you weren’t such a jerk.” I said.
“I dare you.” He responded scowling.
Seriously Just Saying
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The best way to describe mine is to say I’m perturbed.
Annoyed, upset, worried, stressed, discontent, all of these.
I starting writing in retirement, as a past time and was encouraged to write a blog (claudiajustsaying.com). Then I decided to go big and attempt a novel. After many many rewrites, and critiques; it is finished!
I think the story is ready for a beta readers or I could pay to have it edited. However my attempts have gone no where and everywhere I’m reminded of other writers mistakes.
Learning how to navigate WordPress, Facebook, or Absolute Write leaves little energy for creativity.
“This is ridiculous. I’ve been waiting more than twenty minutes. My appointment was for nine fifteen. What time was your appointment?”
“Well, I’m not sure; I think nine thirty, why?”
“Unacceptable! My time is of value, too. Why aren’t complaining?”
“I was told the doctor was running late when I signed in.”
“It’s better if everyone is out of sorts. I can complain for you, make something up, like your dog is in the car, sick and needs to be taken to the Vet.”
“Reading here is as enjoyable as anywhere.”
“Boy, you people are annoying, must you be so perky and pleasant?”
“You’re upset. Why don’t you thumb through a magazine? There’s a travel article about Hawaii in this one. Have you been there?”
“You think looking at pretty pictures of places I can’t afford to travel to will help me… what? Be happy I have to wait for a man I pay to tell me I’m sick. And looking at colorful advertisements won’t help either. I’m Acerbic. My parents and grandparents, on both sides, were Acerbic and proud of it.”
“Acerbic? Is that … American or … a religion?”
“Acerbic is a way of life. You got a problem with that? Our dispositions are generally crabby. We find fault in others quickly and enjoy being sarcastic.”
“Golly gee, everyone feels crabby from time to time.”
“Golly gee? Golly gee, we’ve been sitting here over a half hour. Can’t you pretend you’re a little annoyed? That wing back chair looks awful uncomfortable. These doctors are all the same; think they’re better than the rest.”
“His nurse said the doctor had an emergency, it sounded serious. Are you really Acerbic?”
“Our whole neighborhood is Acerbic. We don’t like friendly. People yell, ‘Don’t park in front of my house, jerk’ and threaten, ‘If your dog pees on my grass, I will call the police!’ Although things are changing. Someone, I can’t find out who, moved my garbage pail out of the street on a windy day.”
“You don’t mind if I read my book?’
“Of course I mind. I get it. Why not say shut-up? Add please if you have to. It’s easy; watch my lips, ‘Will you please shut-up!’ ”
“No, tell me about your life.”
“Actually I had a great childhood. We owned a small cabin not far from Rte. 95 below the Georgia border. Dad named it Acerbia. It was a retreat where we could be sour and discontent on weekends and during vacations. You know, say nasty things about neighbors and relatives.”
“Was that fun?”
“Are you kidding, of course, the best. By the way, they call me Unfortunately. I’m Unfortunately Fortunato. What’s your name? Not that I care.”
“Unfortunately is a first name? And Fortunato your family…?”
“Mom wanted an Acerbic name, nothing cheerful or common like Hope, Joy or Grace.”
“That had to be a difficult name for a child. Did she think it was a mistake?”
“No, Difficult and Mistake are my brothers. Mother named them good, too, because Difficult is in prison and Mistake, chronically unemployed.”
“Was that a surprise?”
“They still haven’t called anyone. All they do is talk on the phone. Someone else has to complain. You can do it. I like your pink eyebrows.”
“My eyebrows are pink?”
“Yea, they match your lipstick, compliments that bluish tint in your hair, and look cool on a woman your age.”
“My hair isn’t blue! I’m not that old.”
“Isn’t that book you’re reading in large print?”
“It’s easier I don’t have to remember my glasses.”
“Most seniors get a little forgetful. It’s normal, not a problem unless you can’t remember what glasses are. You know glasses magnify things, right?”
“I know what glasses are for and I didn’t forget them. I do not need them to read a large print book.”
“Did you hear that? The receptionist called Ms. Fortunato. That’s me, Unfortunately. Doc’s ready for me. Have a rotten, day”
“You too, and my eyebrows aren’t pink!
The challenge was to write a story , less than 1200 words, using dialogue only.
seriously . . . just saying, Claudia
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Autumn In New York Autumn In New York I missed the first day of Autumn or Fall or the Northern Equinox, whatever you call it these days. In Florida we don’t experience the typical indicators that cooler weather is coming. The temperature did drop, but not significantly; it feels cooler because it’s less humid. What […]
Suspicious? Yes, she is suspicious and had been for a while. There is that little twinkle in his eye when he smiles, and he smiles more checking a mirror constantly for food stuck in his teeth. The other day he said, “I’m thinking of whiting them.”
She hears the outside door slam as he bounds up the steps to announce, “I’m home.”
“I heard you coming.” She replies and pulls the sheer window cover aside. A most attractive woman is standing in the rain. The young female, wearing a spaghetti strap dress its fabric absorbing the sudden downpour, is twirling a large black umbrella. She has a Mona Lisa smile and dancer calf’s.
“Come have a look, this woman has to be freezing and how can she walk in those heels?”
“Only to make you happy. I have better things to do.” He says hanging his jacket on a coat hook near the door.
Together they peer out the water-speckled pane of glass his hands on her shoulders. “That’s Mrs. Dash.”
“Mrs. Dash, as in the salt replacement. You know her?”
“Yea, Mrs. Dash as in replace the salt. I don’t know if she owns the company, but she is your new neighbor.”
Vegetal implies something to do with vegetables, and or plants; as in big red tomato, or an oversized yam. Writers will interrupt the word, as either a verb or noun, although a dictionary defines vegetal as an adjective.
So why am I feeling mad at the mention of this word? I like vegetables and love plants.
A big red tomato, Donald Trump won!.
What the vegetal. I’m stunned and did not vote for him. However, I will root for him and hope the seeds planted grow into a hybrid unimagined by pundits, a plant with leaves of every color that capture the warmth and sun surrounding the universe and yield a bountiful harvest.
What happened? I had writers block, and touted this previously enjoyable pastime, tedious.
Well, Saturday evening between bites of bratwurst and sauerkraut, a friend commented that she missed my blog posts and enjoyed my writing.
Sunday morning I awoke to write something. I am ready to get back on my horse and go for a wild and crazy ride. You know what I am saying. I love to play with words, cut and paste incomplete sentences to make complete sentences and obsess over where to place the comma or maybe it should be a semicolon.
My breakthrough . . . . listen to what I tell myself about a favorite activity, writing.
There is nothing more enjoyable than fixing a dangling participial.