Peeps for Leep

Prompt: Leap

jeep cg mud b&w 112908

My name is Leep. At school I was called, inevitably, Leep the Creep. It affected me, I can’t pretend it didn’t.

So it was as Leep the Creep that I put on my ski jacket and went out to mug someone for beer money. I drank Budweiser, which I know is terrible beer, but it was cheap and most of the guys at the club drank it. Leep the Sheep. I admit I sometimes do things to be a part of the gang. I’m weak that way. And yeah, I am saving some money for a vacation. That’s why they sometimes call me Cheapo Leepo.

I couldn’t touch my vacation fund, which sat in a Seville orange marmalade jar on my bedside table. It was up to one hundred and seventy-seven dollars. I could have dipped into it for beer money, but I made a vow to save for the camp. This was one vow I meant to keep. Leep keeps. Leep’s deep.

It wasn’t just the paintball, though I longed to play. At the vacation camp they also had wilderness mud rides, down steep slopes, in a Jeep. Leep in a Jeep going Steep. I heard too they had girls at the camp who liked people like me, shy ones who were also pretty interesting. Peeps for Leep.

So I had to get beer money, without spoiling my plans for camp. My future family depended on it. As in, if I didn’t go I wouldn’t meet the girl, the mother of my future children. See, that was really two vows I meant to keep. The one to my future bride too. I’m shy, and pretty interesting, and loyal. Just what the girls at the vacation camp are looking for. Or so I heard.

My gun was on the bedside table beside the marmalade jar with the one hundred and seventy-seven dollars. It was a deterrent, should anyone have the idea of breaking in and stealing it. I would use the gun to prevent them from stealing. Or maybe I wouldn’t use it, but they wouldn’t know that. Peeps needed to think that you couldn’t walk all over Leep, because he has a gun which might be loaded.

So what makes me pretty interesting? A good question. Well, I mug people, just for small amounts of money, or whatever they have on them. Even ten bucks is ok. My most successful mugging earned me almost two hundred dollars. I kind of wasted it. I bought a digital watch and forty bags of pork rinds. They were kind of a guilty pleasure, at the time. Don’t like them much, now. They were on sale so I stocked up. Cheapo Leepo strikes again.

I also write children’s books. One might be published. Anyway they are for children ages three to five. My publisher said I needed to establish a niche. Not really my publisher, but a publisher who gave me some advice, and if they publish the next one, he will be my publisher. The newest one is called The Joy of Toy. Or The Joys of Toys. I put some illustrations with it, but noted that they didn’t have to use my pictures. I’m not a professional artist. This last book was a departure, since it was so generic. Usually my books are more personal, like about people. One was about a boy who wanted a bicycle, that kind of thing.

But that is interesting, right? An author of books?

My job isn’t that interesting, so I wouldn’t mention that right away. Doesn’t pay that well either, which is why I was always looking for ways to earn a bit more cash. But work had a good employees’ club, nothing fancy, but where I hung out with the gang. Some of the guys are married. Their wives come pick them up at six o’clock. One of the guys, Vincent, met his wife at the vacation camp.

It was a black ski jacket that I put on as Leep the Creep, and I put the hood up to perform a mugging. My face would be in shadow. No one has ever identified me, at least I’ve never been caught. I have one of those everyday faces. Nondescript.

People were always taking short cuts, even late at night, so it was easy to find someone walking alone, off the main streets. It was surprising how careless people were, really.

So I walked around for awhile, just getting some fresh air, when I saw this guy walking alone, down a side street full of shops that were closed. He was no bigger than me, and kind of skinny.

I said, “Give me your money. I have a gun.” My usual script.

This guy looked up into my face. I backed away into the shadow, but he saw me, and I saw him. It was Vincent.

He reached into his leather jacket and pulled something out. I was afraid it might be a weapon so put my hand on the gun in my pocket, just in case. It wasn’t a gun or a knife. It was a jar, my jar.

“This all you got?” Vincent asked me.

I shot him in the face. I didn’t want to, but he could have identified me in a court of law.


Almost Paradise

Prompt: Five Items
A classic question, revisited: what are the five items you must have on a deserted island?

baby goat kid

My desert island is somewhere near Tahiti. Have you been to Tahiti? It is paradise, just saying. Unlike Australia, for example, there are no deadly reptiles or insects. Fish and shellfish are abundant. Tahitian people are among the most generous and gentle I have ever met.

But there will be no other people on this island. So the first item on my list will be a little family of goats. Or sheep. They can provide companionship while also supplying milk and cheese. Have you seen baby goats (kids) and baby sheep (lambs)? Who needs people? Plus, I won’t eat them, unless things become truly desperate, which would probably feel like cannibalism. Can you imagine Tom Hanks eviscerating Wilson to make a pair of gloves? A baby goat is way cuter and warmer than a basketball.

How do Tahitians make flour? I would need to look into this. I believe they grind root vegetables, then mix them with other native-grown ingredients, like coconut. It would be nice to have bread, to go with the cheese and milk, and even better if I didn’t have to use up one of my five allowable items, which I am not doing.

Lemon trees. If I’m eating fish daily, while preventing scurvy, lemons seem ideal. Plus they make good dressing for greens and smell wonderful. But did you know they can also be used to soothe a sore throat, provide potassium in your diet and help reduce the likelihood of high blood pressure and kidney stones? You can also use lemon juice as an insect repellent, an antihistamine, pain-reliever, face cleanser, disinfectant, and mildew eliminator.

I thought of planting some olive trees, since I am a fan of olive oil (and olives) but I think I will rely on coconuts and coconut oil. After all, this particular paradise is not Tuscany.

Next, how do I practically read and write, with no renewable resources? Sadly, I think I will have to limit my reading to, say, a box of books, the titles of which could be the subject of another prompt. As for writing, I would need notebooks, and lots of them, and lots of pencils and erasers. Maybe a box of those too.

While I’m hauling plants from the wreckage, I’ll introduce some hardy grape varieties to my island. It will take a long time to produce a glass of wine, but I’m sure it will be worth the wait, and effort. That makes five items. Santé!


  1. Goat family
  2. Lemon trees
  3. Box of books
  4. Box of notebooks
  5. Grape plants


Prompt: Longing for Gravity
You are on a mission to Mars. Because of the length of of the journey, you will never be able to return to Earth. What about our blue planet will you miss the most?


Well, it is confirmed. We overshot Mars. Someone miscalculated. Opposition was off and now we have a new destination. Oops.

First medical officer Rosa was crying about it. I felt little sympathy for her, because her tears demonstrated that all her chatter about Jonathan Livingston Seagull and her place in the universe and her oneness with the being that some call God, etc. was bullshit.

Since he was the first navigator, John had no time to ponder and went to work right away with course changes and trajectories. He didn’t like to ponder much, at the best of times.

First engineer Will was close to tears, because he probably knew better than anyone if this old bucket could make it to Beta Omega. Will had legendary eyelashes. As second engineer I had a good idea whether or not the craft could withstand the extra distance, too. Slim chance, I believed, but slim was better than none. I saw the cup half full, in other words, while Will saw it half empty.

As first communications officer, I had the charming task of telling the other four, whom I hadn’t seen in six weeks. Two of them, Chris and Haven, were scheduled to be rotated back to us, while Sara and Ed were going to welcome Rosa and Will. We did this rotation, ostensibly, to prevent the contempt of familiarity.

I went through the tunnel and rang the doorbell. We observed little courtesies like that on this journey. Chris opened the hatch, then reflexively checked his watch. “Hi,” I said. “Rotation is not until another three days.”

“Too bad,” said Chris. “I’m about to murder Ed.”

“I’m about to murder Rosa,” I told him.

Chris got everyone together in the dining room, and I explained the change in plans, relying on technical terms and euphemisms to mask the nuclear-strength emotional bombshell. I was met with a stunned silence. Ed spoke first.

“Beta Omega?” he said. “That’s B-O, not very auspicious.”

“Shut up, Ed,” said Chris. “What is the estimated time frame on this?”

“Two years til landing,” I said.

“Fuck,” said Sara.

“No return,” Haven, mistress of the obvious, said.

Ed, supply and distribution officer, told us fuel, food, water, and oxygen would get us there. We already knew that. We thought about it constantly and checked on it compulsively, no matter what the destination.

Sara, first science officer, looking up from her laptop, told us that Beta Omega was a friendly, and the only one. It would be possible. Just. Good old Sara. Glass half full.

Haven said, “I would like to convene a meeting at 1900 hours to discuss how to handle this.” Haven liked porn. I knew this because I knew what everyone watched, and what everyone read, and what everyone wrote.

“What’s for dinner?” I asked.

“Spaghetti,” said Chris. “My Nona’s recipe.”

We all thought a moment about Nona, and how Chris would never set eyes on her again, nor his father or sisters. Nor Alice, his niece, or Chief, his chocolate lab.

We thought a moment about our families. I thought about the woodpecker, the stupid one that woke me early on weekends by hammering on the metal chimney spout.

Some of us thought about sex. I glanced at Chris. My choice for daddy of the millennia, for the first born on the first world, the inauspiciously named B-O. He had a soft spot for Sara. I might have to do something about that.

The Long Days

Prompt: Pace Oddity
If you could slow down an action that usually zooms by, or speed up an event that normally drags on, which would you choose, and why?


I get up as late as possible, telling myself I will shower after work instead of before work. Makes logical sense.

I complete my assigned tasks. I’m a professional. The day drags, and I become weary of smiling and listening to the same banter, the same jokes, the same complaints and petty politics.

Once back home, a large drink is in order. I don’t feel creative enough to cook, but defrost something instead. We eat in front of TV, with a bottle of wine.

More wine, more TV, then finally, bed, where I dream I am the master of a herd of wild horses.

On the weekend, I sleep later. It’s physically very hard to drag myself out from under the cool white sheets and plump duvet. I meet friends for late lunch. There are jokes and banter, complaints and petty politics. But the pizza is filling. The glass of wine I drink with lunch makes me drowsy, and I nap, dreaming I am a time traveller.

I wake in time to make dinner. We had planned to go see a movie, but I feel a bit tired, so we have steak and salad at home. I’m not very hungry, but have a few more glasses of wine.

Finally it is time for bed. Finally. The day passes so very slowly, it is almost painful. I feel pricks of hurt, and aches in places there should be no aches. But at last, I can turn out the light, and return to my dreams.


For me, this is partly what depression feels like. The day passes agonizingly slowly because there is no joy in it. There is no connection, only numbness. Yet you have to meet and speak to people as if everything is perfectly fine; you have to perform everyday tasks as if they matter. There is only one real and meaningful thought: This will soon be over.

Some depression is triggered by an outside event. Sometimes, it is nothing but an inexplicable shift in your feelings of self and of others. People who are depressed can’t help it.

If you have such feelings, please speak to your doctor. There is relief for depression, whether it is counselling, medication, or a combination of the two.

If you recognize depression in a friend or family member, realize that pep talks don’t work. They need actual, professional help, and you can encourage them to seek help by pointing out there is no shame in depression, and that there is effective help available.

If the shadows grow too long, and the day passes so slowly that you are desperate to hurry the night, please call an emergency hot line. You can feel better.


  • Photo: Getty Images.

Love and Oxygen

Prompt: Pat on the Back
Tell someone you’re proud of just how proud you are.


Why is it when you leave a room, the air goes with you?
Why do I gasp for air until you return?
How do I survive an airless room?
Do I even survive the airless room?
Am I dead?
Or am I in love?
Because isn’t loving someone who sucks the life out me, foolish?
How do I find my air again?
How will I breathe when you are gone?
Why would you even leave a room, knowing you leave me gasping?
How is this love?
Can we now move to a place where oxygen masks drop down automatically when air leaves the room?
Don’t you think that’s fair?
Are there other ways to prove I love you?
Ones that don’t involve me dying of asphyxiation?


Fresh Baked

Prompt: Toot Your Horn
Most of us are excellent at being self-deprecating, and are not so good at the opposite. Tell us your favorite thing about yourself.

mirrors with animals

I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I do have a rather unusual talent.

You know how some folks can sense, or even see auras around other people? They can determine moods and personalities by interpreting this mystical energy field that surrounds all life, apparently.

Well, I can do them one better, and then one better again. I see “scenes”. Scenes are images, like a loop of a video tape. Let me give you an example.

I went to see my old fourth-grade teacher, Miss Fisher, in prison recently. We’d kept in touch because at one time, we were both heavily involved the quilting club. I favoured the classic, old-fashioned Amish-style quilts, while Miss Fisher liked the modern collage approach, and put together some pretty alarming patterns, as well as lovely scenes of the seaside, and so on.

Anyway, there she sat, on the other side of the plexiglass. I swear she hadn’t aged a day since I was nine years old. Instead of the usual storm-clouds-with-bunny-rabbits scene that normally surrounded Miss Fisher, there were storm clouds, rain, and fields of wheat. She stared at me dolefully.

I immediately produced a china plate with two slabs of fresh-baked, whole grain bread, slathered with butter. I passed it to Miss Fisher and she took it gratefully, wasting no time and biting fiercely, for her, into the crusty end, sighing blissfully. Miss Fisher grew up on the prairies. Her father was a wheat farmer, and she was nostalgic for her mother’s baking. She told us lots of stories of life on the farm, in our fourth-grade classroom. One of her most elaborate quilts featured sharp spears of wheat, set into a kind of kaleidoscope pattern, which won second place at the Craft Fair, though it gave me a headache.

“Thank you, dear, how thoughtful,” said Miss Fisher when she’d finished chewing and swallowing. Good manners were important to Miss Fisher. She would never talk with her mouth full, though there was a dab of butter saucily stuck to the corner of her mouth. I didn’t point it out.  She continued, “I only get white bread in here, for some reason, and not very fresh at that.”

I watched the bunnies hop back into the scene, and the fields of wheat turn into a green meadow. The storm clouds remained, though.

The beauty is, there was an armed guard not three feet to the left of Miss Fisher, and he did not notice the bread: he neither saw it, nor smelled the glorious scent of it. Only Miss Fisher and I were privileged to do so.

It can be a burden, these visions and scenes, especially at Sunday night dinner. My family are somewhat odd and distracted, I admit, so their scenes often take place in Rotterdam or Caracas, or in Celia’s case, in an ice-fishing hut. Last Sunday, Uncle Fred joined the family dinner, as well as Aunt Aggie and her new boyfriend. Well, that was an evening of savage scenes. It was exhausting. Uncle Fred’s scene was always a house of mirrors; it was dizzying to watch. That night, Aunt Aggie was flanked by naked old men, and her new beau was surrounded by nuns wearing sunglasses. It was disconcerting, to say the least.


Prompt: Drawing a Blank
When was the last time your walked away from a discussion, only to think of The Perfect Comeback hours later? Recreate the scene for us, and use your winning line.


Guy, in an attempt to insult me/shut me down after I impatiently refused to let him interrupt me for the third time: “You act like a man.”

Me: “Jealous?”


The Houseboat Part 1

Prompt: The Road Less Traveled
Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.


If only they hadn’t gone on that ridiculous houseboat vacation. Colin had been so excited, so enthused, even though he knew nothing about boating or boats or rivers or mechanics or the dynamics of spending days and days and days in the company of one person who may or may not drive you crazy.

The cramped sleeping quarters, alleged plumbing (toilet and shower), and alleged kitchen were below decks, with living space, bridge and lounging deck above. To move between decks you had to use an outside ladder at the bow of the boat It was a squat, dwarfish vessel.

The houseboat was made of wood, because wood was cheaper to rent, and this was before Colin got tenure. He preferred the look of the wooden houseboats anyway. He actually longed for the straight angles, the creaking boards, and yes, the peeling paint of a traditional wooden houseboat. Insurance was more expensive, but Colin ignored that. They were going on a romantic Colin- wish-fulfillment dream, not an actual holiday with two people participating.

Because of staff upheavals at the university, Catherine had barely seen this man for the past year, this awkwardly tall, often tactless, but bright and funny man who was oafishly in love with his wife. So she convinced herself that they needed this time together, wherever it was, even a houseboat in France. Maybe not.

The houseboat might have provided the romantic getaway Colin feverishly imagined, if it hadn’t rained so much. Colin had pictured himself on the outside bridge, feet up, steering intuitively down pristine river banks, perhaps spotting deer or other game. But it had rained, almost without stopping. The interior of the houseboat was not built for someone of Colin’s stature. In the brochure this was even mentioned: “NOT recommended for those of above average height.” So indoors, Colin stooped along, optimistic at first and laughing at the novelty of living in a dollhouse, then a slow furrow developed between his eyebrows as the rain continued. Day after day.

The river rose, flooded banks. A sodden mist shrouded the shoreline. Their hot water inexplicably stopped flowing, so it was difficult to keep themselves and their clothing clean. Impossible really. There was no clothes dryer, and the underwear and t-shirts tossed onto sagging lines strung across the upper deck quarters stayed soggy in the humid air. It was warm, and the houseboat took on the dense, damp smell of mold and rot.

So there was not much fresh air or communing with nature, no healthy glow from the sun. There was the sharing of cramped quarters, with the rain pounding endlessly on the roof of the houseboat, the skies grey, the mist spreading.

They made fewer attempts at baby-making than they had intended. It was sticky and uncomfortable and not conducive to passion, despite their efforts. There was no hot shower before or afterwards, or even a brisk cold one, since the water stayed at a permanent tepid temperature.

Catherine awoke on a drizzly Saturday morning, pretty certain they were lost. There was no concrete evidence, nothing that would hold up in a court of law, but the river banks seemed nearer, the passage narrower, the pace slower. Colin had risen early to get a good start on the day, hoping no doubt to sail out of this dismal rain and into the sun again. They had originally planned on avoiding “civilization” —the picturesque towns that dotted the shoreline of the main cruise routes, but now they would hungrily welcome the diversion of a cool, dry cafe; even a decadent night spent in a cool, dry hotel room.

Perhaps Colin had consulted the map and was now competently directing them to a perfect community in the sunshine. Catherine’s bones told her otherwise.

It was late morning when the Miss Misty ran aground, with a painful roar and the sound of steel bending, although Catherine was sure there was nothing of steel in the craft at all, save the front of the tiny stove. Had that bent?

She was thrown off her feet, and while on all fours shouted, “Colin! Are you there? Are you all right?” She could hear him thumping around on the deck above her. Never graceful at the best of times, there was however an unusual speed to his movements. She got to her feet, climbed up the ladder and flung open the door. “Um, abandon ship,” he said with a shy smile.


To be continued.