The Adventures of Chai: The Handcuffs

Prompt: Incubate

audrey in sunglasses

“Let’s not tell mom about the handcuffs, ok?” said Chai.

Flax responded with a deeply blank stare, an odd countenance for such a young child. Perhaps, Chai thought, he was “processing” and had no energy left for facial expression. Flax was more about doing than thinking, but maybe there was a speck of growing up incubating in that tiny, terrifying boy bundle.

But would he tell mom about the handcuffs?

Her mother had been furious about the leash. No matter how much Chai explained that it had saved her brother from being hit by a car, her mother was adamant that it was unholy to put a young human being on a leash, just because he was active.

“—and unpredictable and strong and it was a harness not a leash,” Chai said.

“No,” said her mother. “Get a good grip on his hand, like a normal person.”

His sticky, gooey, gobby little hand, which slid out of hers whenever he saw something distracting, the same way a dog darted for a squirrel. Sometimes he yanked his hand away just so he could run two blocks ahead of her. She had books to carry, homework and all kinds of shit; how was she supposed to run after an almost four-year old future gold medal sprinter?

No leash, and Flax would surely end up flattened by a bus.

So Chai toured the Dollar Store, which had jumbles of unrelated merchandise on every shelf and in every corner, for ideas. By the time she reached the toy handcuffs, she had a fabric sunflower, a bottle of blue nail polish, a starfish-emblazoned mug, and a mammoth bag of caramel corn in her basket.

The handcuffs were plastic and not strong enough to contain the likes of Flax, as she found out when she flexed them and they came apart. She buried the broken pair under a stack of water pistols. Should stores even sell toy handcuffs and guns?

An hour later Chai was hovering outside the Sexxe Shoppe, wearing a scarf and a pair of her mother’s sunglasses, hoping to pass for eighteen.

The handcuffs were on a display shelf, covered in a hard plastic shell mounted on cardboard, but they looked like they were made of metal, and strong. The key had a heart-shaped handle, lest the set be mistaken for something other than intimate pleasure.

The following afternoon, she picked up Flax as usual at the daycare, and as soon as they were out the door she snapped on the polished silver handcuffs, making the two of them temporarily inseparable. Conveniently, the cuff size was completely adjustable, and the little terror was unable to slip out of them.

He was not happy, but he was never happy to be held back, even by Chai’s innocent hand.

The handcuffs were not as convenient as the leash, because she only had one hand free, but somehow she managed to get them both home safely and without incident.

The key. She’d put it in her jacket pocket. Hadn’t she?

“Just a minute, Flax!” He stopped the pulling and yanking for the duration of the blink of an eye, then leaned, suspended and squirming, away from her. With difficulty she patted down her jacket pockets, then rummaged through her bag and then scrunched up the lining of her jacket in case the key had fell through, but there was no joyfully wanton, heart-shaped silver key to be found.

She pulled Flax back to her and checked his pockets and clothing carefully.


Her mother would be back briefly after work, then would dash out for her evening accounting course (hoping to get a federal job, and all that) but how could Chai manage to conceal the handcuffs from her until she could find the key?

Neither she nor Flax could get their jackets off, so Chai scribbled a note and left it on the counter: Gone to Jude’s, took Flax, see you tonite.

She somehow got Flax a snack and into the bathroom for an awkward pee, then she dragged the poor lad to the park around the corner, where they waited on a bench behind a tree until her mother’s car glided slowly by in the direction of the house, then, a few minutes later, slowly glided past again.

Chai (and Flax) retraced their steps all the way back to the daycare, then diligently searched the sidewalk and porch at the house, then every inch of the house. She found the earring she’d lost back when she had her ears pierced, and a dollar bill that was no longer in circulation, and a birthday card from last year that had fallen behind the sideboard, but she did not find a key.

It was about half past eight when Chai heard her mother slam the front door and throw her keys onto the hallway table.

“If you want to watch the end of this, don’t say a word,” she whispered sharply to Flax. They sat side by side on the couch in front of the TV, the lights dimmed, with a big bowl of caramel popcorn between them. Cars 2 was the feature film on Netflix, and held Flax’s full attention even though he’d seen it at least twice before.

Her mother paused in the doorway. “Hi chickens. What’s Flax doing up so late? Flax—“

“We’ll just watch the end of Cars, mom. It’s not a school night. I’ll get him to bed.” Chai knew her mother was dead tired. Her night classes were Thursday and Friday, along with full time teaching at Frontenac Elementary School, and she tended to sleep through most of the weekend.

Flax stuffed a handful of caramel corn into his little maw with his free hand. Their mother came up behind them, kissed the top of his head, and bid them good night.

Ok, it was a troublesome night. They slept in Chai’s bed because it was bigger, and while Flax slept soundly, he also thrashed around, farted, and hogged the covers.

And they had to get up well before their mother, whose alarm would go at ten a.m.

Chai was frantic. She thought of dragging her brother to the Sexxe Shoppe and begging for a second key, but she was pretty sure he wouldn’t be allowed onto the premises, and anyway some of the devices on display might confuse or even traumatize the little boy. She knew she’d been confused, and was a bit shaky on the traumatization. A little research would be in order when all this was sorted out, if it ever was.

Might the hardware store have a device wherewith they cut through metal as a service to their customers? How often would teenage girls come in needing liberation from handcuffs?

In desperation she called the Sexxe Shoppe on the phone, and spoke to a cheerful someone named Mandy, who sounded Chai’s age.

“Um,” said Chai.

“Honey, I’ve heard it all,” said Mandy. “What can I do ya for?”

“I lost the key to the Luxe Handkuffs. I can’t find it anywhere and I—“

“Honey, did you not press that little latch near the chain?”

“The what?”

“A safety feature, in case one or the other— well, never mind. Just find that little lever… do you see it, honey?”

“Who’re you talking to?” her mother asked as she wandered into the kitchen, clad in a purple kimono.

Flax, newly freed, bounded out of the kitchen and into the back yard, where he started digging a hole and filling it with rocks, fallen leaves, and litter.

“No one,” said Chai. “I made some tea.”

Casually, Chai pulled her jacket around her and joined Flax in the garden.

“Flax,” she said, “let’s not tell mom about the handcuffs, ok?”


The Cave-Dweller [Repost]

Prompt: Provoke

Tropical-Vacation 2

Miss Fisher was giggling. A guard, passing her cell, paused and sighed. They often giggled. They did all kinds of strange things when in solitary. Some people said it was inhumane. The guard, personally, had seen enough to make him agree with that assessment. Some of the inmates never seemed to recover from even short stays in solitary confinement. Others simply did not survive it. They had to be shipped out.

And someone like Miss Fisher? The guard shook his head. She was elderly, frail, quiet. He had been in her class for half a semester, grade four. He remembered her as strict, but kind and encouraging. She’s the one who diagnosed his dyslexia, and saved him from a lot of problems down the road. A good teacher, was Miss Fisher.

Sure, she murdered some people. Inmates weren’t at McKinnon for their health. But –as the joke went– she wouldn’t be around long enough to serve her life sentence, so why not cut her some slack?

He wasn’t sure exactly why she had been tossed in the cave, something to do with an incident in the cafeteria; no doubt something violent. People never took into consideration that violent people were often provoked. He’d seen it happen many times, it was not unusual at all.

He himself had been provoked many times. That’s what happened, they told him, when you marry a pretty girl. He was no better than half the females in this institution. Just luckier, that’s all. You know, like his friends held him back from a fight, or authorities smoothed things over. It was a small community. There but for the grace of God, and all that.

He would put a banana on Miss Fisher’s tray tonight. Strictly forbidden, but it’s not as if anyone was watching…

Miss Fisher stretched out on her bunk. It was narrow and the mattress was thin and hard, worse than the one in 177D, and the blanket scratched and wasn’t warm enough.

Still, it was fantastic to be alone. She was good at shutting out the noises around her, so after the first night, the crying and shouting that disturbed all the other cave-dwellers were not an issue for Miss Fisher. She could gather her thoughts, run some personal home movies in her head, enjoy her solitude, revel in being away from the crush of people who were always around, and be refreshed and ready when she returned to reg in a week. She giggled. They thought this was punishment. It was a fucking vacation.

  • Original Prompt: Solitude , April 28, 2016

Because I’m Wrong

Prompt: Noise

cartoon noisy upstairs

cartoon leaf blower

cartoon loud wrong

Have a peaceful week!



Old People [Repost]

Prompt: Uncompromising

Birds, rose ringed parakeet psittacula krameri, Nadiad, Gujarat, India

“My parents were in the military,” Hilda said. “You know, middle east and all that. My dad got shorter.”

“Shorter?” said Zach.

They were sitting on the back porch of Bernard’s house, looking out over a tidy lawn which appeared to be the playground for a number of cats, and a lounge and back-scratching area for the dog named Maxine, who rolled around on her back and kicked her legs in the air, all with her tongue lolling out.

Lilies were in bloom along the back fence, and there were some unruly ninebark growing near the house, and pots of petunias, and a tub with a few straggly herbs. A table, possibly a picnic table, had graced the lawn at some stage, as there were symmetrical squares of dead grass. There was a sawed off stub of what had been a tree. One of the cats lolled near the stump, perhaps nursing resentments about the shade that was lost.

“Shorter, yes,” said Hilda. She sipped on one of Bernard’s home made beers, a bitter ale that was smooth and soothing. “He was a paratrooper for fifteen years. You try hard-landing a thousand times and see what it does for your posture.”

“Seriously?” said Zach. He now wanted to meet Hilda’s father. He thought he had reached old person gold with Bernard. Perhaps old people had interesting lives and interesting things to talk about. This was beyond Zach’s experience.

His own grandparents had raised him, and they were cantankerous and strict, and looked upon Zach as a criminal-in training, possibly because both his parents were heroin addicts.

His grandmother was still alive. She liked when he visited, but she had very little of interest to say. On the other hand, he knew virtually nothing of what their lives were or had been. Only that they dragged him to church until he was a teenager and undraggable, were strict about his schooling and his friends, were tightwads when it came time to open the wallet for school clothes or trendy games and toys, and refused him guitar lessons when he asked. Never mind. He taught himself.

Bernard’s screen door hinges needed oiling— maybe, thought Zach, all screen doors did. Were there any that did not creak and complain? Bernard handed Zach a mandolin case. “There you go,” he said.

The mandolin was not only repaired, but cleaned and polished. It gleamed and smelled of almond oil. Zach felt something welling up behind his eyes. Hilda noticed. It was impossible to explain, but had to do with his father, whose mandolin was the only thing he hadn’t sold (he might have, but he gave it to his parents to hold for Zach), Zach’s relief to have it back in his possession, the kindness of Bernard, and the loving skill of the craftsman who put it back together.

“Thanks, Bernard,” said Zach. He had the forty dollars loose in his pocket, and took out the bills and handed them to Bernard.

“Great,” said Bernard, “this will feed his parakeets for the next while.”

“Yeah, good,” said Zach, still overwhelmed.

Hilda put her hand on his wrist. It felt cool. She was feeling his pulse too, Zach knew. It was something Hilda did.

  • Original Prompt: Eyes, August 19, 2016


Prompt: Fact

Hello Wednesday,

Wednesday? Where are you? Oh, I almost missed you.

The fact is, I have been busy with a sick dog. I won’t go into detail, because sick dogs always involve unpleasant descriptions of normal and abnormal bodily functions and sick lumpy stuff. But my darling 14-year old puppy is not well at all.

We’ve been neglecting the past few vet visits because they stress out his dog mind and body so much, and we just want him to be comfortable and content in his dotage. That’s been cowardly of us, I know. Cowardly and desperately loving. Loving cowardice.

So he lay at my feet now as I tap tap on my laptop, as he always does, but he is sad and lost and miserable, and would feel even worse if he knew he had a vet visit coming up. Which he does.

So the prompt is fact, and I had no trouble selecting a few of my favourite cartoons relating to the prompt, which I offer to you now:

cartoon jury fact

cartoon facts dont matter

cartoon fact checking

Love and peace!

~~FPfluffy pool pencil sketch


Nine Toes [Repost]

Prompt: Restart

ice fishing Clooneys 2

“Good afternoon, Mr Parsons,” said the voice on the other end of the telephone. It wasn’t really afternoon; that was, to Charlie Parsons, a time between one pm and six pm. After that it was evening, and then night.

Charlie didn’t recognize the voice, and the timer for the frozen ham and pineapple pizza in the oven was about to sound an alarm, but he’d been raised to be moderately polite, so he accepted the “good afternoon” and then said he had no time to chat as his dinner was ready and he was hungry.

“Oh!” said the woman’s voice. “Then I’ll be brief. You did not renew your subscription to Ice Fishers’ Digest, and I’m simply calling to rectify the situation by putting the new subscription on your credit card.”

“Thanks, but I’m not renewing. Good-bye, now!” said Charlie Parsons, and almost had the phone back in its little cradle when the woman screamed.

“Hello?” he said, bringing the instrument up to his ear again.

The oven timer dinged.

“I’m sorry, Mr Parsons,” said the woman, out of breath. “I didn’t mean to startle you. But you see, the upcoming issue of Ice Fishers’ Digest has an article about celebrity ice fishing. Did you know that Amal Clooney sits for hours on end in an ice-fishing cabin, for fun?”

“Seriously? Good-bye.”

“Wait!” That scream again.

“If you don’t renew, I lose my job. I’m already living out of my car, with my seven year old daughter Amelia, who has ADD and no medication. I’m saving up to buy a tent. Please Mr Parsons! And, did you know that the kind of line you use affects the weight of the fish you catch? Little known tip, but amazing.”

“I’m sorry about your daughter, but—”

“I know where you live. I know where you work. Don’t make me come after you,” said the voice, now almost a whisper. “Plus, international ice fishing laws vary. Did you know you could inadvertently end up behind bars when visiting Finland?”

“I don’t ice-fish. I never got the damn magazine. I’m not interested. I only have nine toes and don’t want to ice-fish.”

“There is a coupon in the February issue of Ice Fishers’ Digest for two dollars off all HeatMe! sport socks. Anyway, many psychologists say fishing provides great mental health benefits, and I don’t need to tell you about the role of Omega fats in a healthy diet.”

“No, I—“

“Have you ever been impotent, Mr Parsons? Stress and a poor diet could be the culprits. You need to ice-fish. You need it.”

“Thanks but—“

“My daughter is really almost twenty, and very very attractive. How would you like to meet her for dinner tomorrow night? My treat?”

“No, I mean the ADD thing…”

“Your impotency is more of a problem than my daughter’s ADD,” said the woman.

Charlie Parsons had been looking out the window to a lime tree, whose brilliant yellow leaves were just starting to bud. He didn’t notice the smoke, and when the alarm set off he was startled and dropped the phone on the floor.

“Mr Parsons!” the voice screamed. “Mr Parsons!”

Charlie turned off the oven, opened all the windows and doors, and held a pillow to the smoke alarm until the shrill buzzing stopped. He left the phone on the tile floor, grabbed his leather jacket, and made his way to Piece o’ Pizza, as he felt his mental and physical health depended on a fresh ham and pineapple pizza, perhaps accompanied by a leafy green salad.

  • Original Prompt: Renewal, December 29, 2016


Prompt: Dim

Hello Wednesday,

My sixth grade English teacher, Miss Barlow, once told me I was a dim bulb. I was shocked, although not entirely certain what it meant.

I grew up so sheltered that almost every insult hurled at me as a child is embedded in my brain. Because there just aren’t that many to remember.

I sometimes pushed my mother to the end of her patience, and she said a few unkind things, which are branded on my internal skin as permanently as a cattle brand. They hurt. And yes, as I say, I grew up in a loving home, with mostly non-psychotic relatives or teachers or friends, so I did and still do feel whole, healthy, and secure.

Imagine a neglected or abused child. Imagine them long enough to go right now, maybe to a site like Charity Navigator to pick out an international children’s advocacy group to donate to, or maybe consider chipping in to Big Brothers or Big Sisters, or other local groups.

I’ve heard that one, one kind word, or moment of kind attention to an otherwise invisibly neglected child can change their life for the better, and I believe it.

Well now this post took an unexpected turn. Let’s get back to the daily prompt, dim, which is related to the first of today’s favourite cartoons, but in no way related to the others…

cartoon dim lighting

cartoon toe tapper

cartoon clown pres

For the record, Miss Barlow didn’t even know what a gremlin was, insisting it was only a brand of car and not a creature when I wrote about one for an assignment. So who’s the dim bulb?

Bye-bye February!