Conquer [Repost]

Prompt: Senses

yin yang fish

Beth wondered how much to tell him, as she snuggled close, her arm draped over his waist and her middle finger idly stroking his breast bone while he slept.

It wasn’t love. It wasn’t just lust, either, exactly. It was an almost Zen contentment, a match, a yin and yang, a yearning perfectly met. Theirs was a playful relationship, without intimacy, but with good food and fun and flirting and far too long in bed. Beth was reeling from the intoxication of it, she walked just a bit above ground, she was just a bit too forgiving, a bit too ready with a smile that couldn’t be contained.

There was no reason she should feel ashamed of anything in her past. Ok, her military husband left her for a man while she was pregnant. Ouch that did hurt, but didn’t really reflect on her, since in the end she was well rid of the bastard.

A single mom then, basking in the attentions of a rich man, who some might say bought her “services”. She didn’t look at it that way. Roman was lovely, attentive, in love, and Beth was young and desperate and tired of the struggle. Who could condemn her for that?

And Deborah. Beth had never really approved of Deborah’s husband, Vincent, but Deb was like her father— there was no stopping her when she wanted something. They shared a healthy ego, confidence, and the sense that the world owed them a happy life. He hadn’t met Deb yet, hadn’t heard the story of Vincent’s murder. How would it sound to him?

Vincent was out walking late at night (why?). He was robbed. It happens. But how often does the robber shoot their victim in the face? It was more than a robbery; Beth could feel it. No one had ever explored any other motive for the crime. But Beth could add. She knew Vince. Something happened that night.

And Beth didn’t know how to explain it to Geoffrey, or even if she should try. She longed to talk about it with someone. Geoffrey, deep in a dream adventure, was breathing heavily next to her, smelling strongly of his cologne, Makizmo.

Yes, and that scent had to go. It had been Vincent’s cologne too. Very musky and sweet. The smell of it upset Deborah, and even Deb’s strange friend Leep noticed it.

Beth had a little gift for Geoffrey on the night stand. A new cologne. Musky, grassy, citrusy, fresh, and not Makizmo. It was called Conquer.

A new cologne. Beth knew how foolish it was to set landmarks in relationships, but she set one anyway.

Conquer meant both defeat and victory.

Beth moved even closer, and Geoffrey, in his peace and comfort, started to quietly snore.


  • Original Prompt: Conquer, March 19, 2017 
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Of Course

Prompt: Memory


Hello Wednesday,

Here’s a random memory:

When I was backpacking in Europe, my travel companion and I borrowed/ leased a really terrible car (a lemon of a VW Beetle) for the latter part of our journey. While in Greece, we had to surrender the thing to a garage for some necessary repairs, and this set us back financially. We arranged to have some money sent to Zurich, and to reach the city economically we took on two paying passengers, Richard and Brian.

The car was mechanically sound by now, but a wreck nonetheless. The driver’s side door had been struck by a motorcyclist and could no longer be opened. The driver’s seat had come off its rails so needed a person in the rear seat to brace their knees against it for stability so the driver wouldn’t be flung backward. The passenger side door wouldn’t securely close, so once we were all seated inside it was tied shut by a length of twine. The gas gauge and reserve tank did not function and we were constantly running out of gas in the middle of nowhere (once in the country on the opening day of hunting season– scary). The heater was constantly blasting, and the windshield wipers didn’t work at all.

Brian lasted as far as Rome, where he bolted in horror never to be seen again. Richard persisted. He was a sentimental, horny fellow from Rhode Island, USA, who once, at our request, drew a map of Canada that looked like a pizza. He was a bit of a health nut, and kept a biscuit tin of vitamins and supplements, plus aspirin and other OTC remedies that he had simply emptied out of their bottles into the tin. It was a colourful if daunting melange of meds of different sizes and shapes, but Richard could confidently identify each one.

This was fine until we reached the Swiss border. We were selected, perhaps because of our rather scruffy appearance, to have our luggage searched. They also took apart the poor beleaguered VW Beetle. And of course they found Richard’s stash of unlabelled pills.

The put the car back together (without fixing anything, alas) and cheerfully told my friend and I we could carry on, but Richard and his biscuit tin were suspect and he would be detained at least overnight. Richard was aghast and panicked. “Wait for me,” he pleaded as he was marched away, perhaps fearing he would rot away in a foreign jail cell without anyone ever knowing. “Of course!” we called out to him.

We spent a comfortable night at the border town on the Swiss side and in the morning packed up the car, excited to be so close to our destination. We weren’t sure where Richard was, and in any case, much to my eternal shame, we didn’t really care. I suppose we were naively optimistic about his fate as well as hungry (close to literally) for the cash that awaited us in Zurich. So we got in the car and drove around the town, looking for the directional sign to get us on the road to Zurich.

Purely by accident we came across Richard meandering down a sidewalk with his backpack. He waved ecstatically and climbed in with great relief. “I knew you wouldn’t desert me,” he said in gratitude.

“Of course not!” we said.

May I now present a few of my favourite cartoons relating to the prompt, memory, the first of which I don’t totally understand?

cartoon memory refresh

cartoon bad memory

cartoon watering can


Happy memories!

~~FP

Someone [Repost]

Prompt: Forest

jaguar_e_type_from_1961-rdd88dfd1b4934185aacee1d2d2d695f2_v9wxo_8byvr_700

Plato and I were driving across country. We had nothing else to do, really. Surprisingly, in a world devoid of life everything pretty much worked still. Electric generators still generated electricity, the Internet was still there— I don’t know how, but it was— and gas pumps still pumped gas. Since my dog Plato and I could do what we pleased, I was behind the wheel of a 1961 E-Type Jaguar convertible, red in colour, speeding down the highway in the direction of a mall I remembered visiting with my now-gone family back when we visited the Grand Canyon.

I remembered the town because we were stuck there for about four and a half hours, as we waited in the heat of mid-day for some kind of car part to be couriered. A fuel pump, maybe. In any case we were side-tracked and explored the town as a pack: My mother and father, my two sisters, and me.

There was a water slide near a huge indoor mall. It was one of the biggest malls in the state. It stood on the edge of a forest— a dense, wild, rather dark expanse of land that I remembered because it was such a contrast to all the concrete and glass, the street lamps and oil stains, the harsh sunlight and noise of the town.

My sister Katy had wanted to go hiking in the woods— she was always trying to be contrary— but we all ended up swooshing down the water slide, which was fun because the water was cold, and then going to the mall for hot dogs and Orange Julius, in our damp clothes and wet hair, smelling of chlorine.

That day, in that small town, remains one of my most treasured memories. We all of us were together, truly together, for one of the last times. In the next year my oldest sister Cher would be going away to college, and Katy, bless her, would get pregnant and married and moved out at the age of sixteen. You just never knew what was going to happen.

As Plato and I well knew, since we’d witnessed the end of the world. We tried to look on the bright side: We were going almost 100 miles an hour in a vintage Jag, and Plato loved the rush of air and I put goggles over his eyes and his ears flapped around his head and his tongue was glued by the wind to his jowls. Happy days. Maybe this would be a memory, too.

We camped in the woods behind the mall, in a tent we got from a huge sporting goods outlet in the mall. I made a bonfire, which I learned to do in Boy Scouts, and Plato and I roasted hot dogs and drank gallons of Orange Julius. I told Plato about my sisters, and he listened with his head tilted, as he always did, and just as we were about to crawl into the tent, Plato leapt up and started to bark.

He made a whimpering noise too, and growled some, and then barked again. He didn’t move, as he was well-trained, but he looked at me, barked, whined, and then howled, staring out into the darkness of the forest that surrounded us.

Yes, a shadow moved. It wasn’t the wind, as there was none. It was someone.

Someone!

 


Buried Treasure

Prompt: Success


Dear Wednesday,

A funny thing happened on my way to a deep depression.

I got away from my life for a few days simply by being a tourist in a big city for a change— walking, shopping, sight-seeing, eating, drinking, playing, getting up early, falling into bed exhausted, and forgetting I am meant to be completely miserable.

Instead of dragging myself around in a state of constant fatigue, I had energy and enthusiasm. These were like strange, quirky friends who had dropped off the radar but whose sudden reappearance made me realize how much I’d missed— and needed— them.

I found comfort in the things I do, my reactions to them, the people around me and how my words and actions could affect them for the better; I realized I am not wholly terrible and hopeless but just may have something inside me that is worthwhile and that I can share. And, importantly, that there are emotional crutches and destructive self-medications that need to be eliminated from my life.

So I’m a little busy at the moment, getting rid of the “piles” in my life, both physical and metaphorical— those heaps of things that I’ve neglected for so long.

It helps that spring is here, with all the scents of hope and renewal that it brings.

Recently I came across an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon (they are all old now, since creator Bill Watterson retired the strip in 1995) and thought it might be fun to share some of Calvin’s life philosophy, a capsulated guide to success…

cartoon calvin ta da

cartoon calvin fort

cartoon calvin treasure

Peace and love,

~~FP

Jamaican Moon

Prompt: Copy

Classified-top-secret

Clyde was in London and Sharon had the flu. Jay felt isolated and vulnerable, especially since Kenny was hovering around the corridors. He would like nothing more than to see Kenny at the bottom of the Potomac, an appetizer for the fishies. But he “knew things” and had “insurance”. Jay had never been so careless, before or since. That didn’t matter now.

In front of him, a file containing a letter from a concerned parent.

Naturally there were more insidious threats to national security to attend to. Like King, that Kennedy kid, those relentless, misguided protesters, and, very importantly, keeping his own methods and sources unbreakable and unscrutinized.

But he knew that everything was connected. Everything. Politics, religion, family, art. Once things started rotting from the inside out, the tumor spread as slow and deadly as a lava flow. The world was on the brink of disaster, and he was not about to let the country spin out of control on his watch.

And now an issue almost two years old, was resurfacing.

We all know there is obscene materials available for those who seek it, the letter read, but when they start sneaking in this material in the guise of the latest ‘teen age rock & roll hit record these morons have gone to far.

Indeed. Still, this letter had been forwarded from Bobby’s office. Jay never knew if he was being provoked, or mocked, or what. He read on:

This land of ours is headed for an extreme state of moral degradation what with this record, the biggest hit movies and the sex and violence exploited on T.V.

How can we stamp out this menace? ? ? ? ?

The concern was focused on one song, which his lab had already investigated at some length, and had found nothing prosecutable.

But, said another parent, in another letter which was sent directly to Jay, whether the lyrics are obscene doesn’t matter. Because the words are indecipherable, teenagers hear the obscene lyric whether it is there or not.

At that moment, Kenny burst into his office. Jay felt his body tense with anger and frustration. “I’m busy,” he said, “Get out.”

“I have a message for you from Dotty!” Kenny said breathlessly.

“Why would she contact you?”

“Because you are busy.”

“Get out.” Blackmail or no blackmail, he couldn’t abide the sight of Kenneth.

“Yes sir, I mean, no sir,” said Kenny. “I see you are reading those silly letters.” He relaxed into a chair opposite Jay’s desk, without asking permission.

“The morals of this country are hardly silly,” said Jay, closing the file folder.

“Why don’t you just contact the Copyright Office? Don’t they have to register the lyrics? I can check for you if you like, it’s only down the road.” Kenny held out his hand.

A week later, Jay opened the file containing the letters and added a new sheet of paper, freshly typed by Sharon, back from her leave of absence.

LOUIE, LOUIE, OH NO, I SAID WE GOTTA GO
YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH I SAID
LOUIE, LOUIE, OH BABY, I SAID WE GOTTA GO

A FINE LITTLE GIRL, SHE WAITS FOR ME
ME CATCH A SHIP ACROSS THE SEA
ME SAIL THAT SHIP ALL ALONE
ME NEVER THINK HOW I’LL MAKE IT HOME

LOUIE, LOUIE, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, I SAID WE GOTTA GO
OH NO, I SAID
LOUIE, LOUIE, OH BABY, I SAID WE GOTTA GO

THREE NIGHTS AND DAYS I SAIL THE SEA
I THINK OF GIRL CONSTANTLY
ON THAT SHIP, I DREAM SHE THERE
I SMELL THE ROSE IN HER HAIR

LOUIE, LOUIE, OH NO, I SAID WE GOTTA GO
YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH I SAID
LOUIE, LOUIE, OH BABY, I SAID WE GOTTA GO

OKAY, LET’S GIVE IT TO ‘EM, RIGHT NOW!

ME SEE
ME SEE JAMAICAN MOON ABOVE
IT WON’T BE LONG ME SEE ME LOVE
ME TAKE HER IN MY ARMS AND THEN
I TELL HER I’LL NEVER LEAVE AGAIN

LOUIE, LOUIE, OH NO, I SAID WE GOTTA GO
YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH I SAID
LOUIE, LOUIE, OH BABY, I SAID WE GOTTA GO

I SAID WE GOTTA GO NOW

LET’S GET ON OUTTA HERE

LET’S GO!

 


 

  • Original Prompt: MusicMay 2, 2016.

Less Tuba

Prompt: Stranger

cartoon strangers day

Stranger is a strange word. A stranger is someone unknown, and it’s root is “strange”, which kind of sets up the scenario that we should be suspicious and even on high alert when in the company of someone strange, a stranger.

A stranger is just a friend you’ve never met. Some cheerful people believe this.

A stranger is an alien and fearsome. Other people cheerfully believe this.

A good way to lose a friend is to treat them like a stranger. I believe this, less cheerfully.

The war for the hearts and minds of people all over the world might just boil down to how we perceive strangers, from new next door neighbours to international treaties.

I will definitely ponder that as I eat an orange.

For now, relating not to strangers but to merely, mildly strange, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons?

cartoon rapunzel

cartoon prodigal son

cartoon less tuba


–]

Don’t be a stranger!

~~FP

Insomnia

Prompt: Earworm

dreams

Once there was a way,
To get back homeward.

Once there was a way
To get back home.

Sleep, pretty darling,
Dot not cry
And I will sing a lullaby.

Golden slumbers,
Fill your eyes
Smiles await you when you rise.

Sleep pretty darling
Do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby.

My brain is oh-so-literal, judging from the soundtrack it’s put together for insomnia. But the brain forgets that the insomniac will bounce through soothing lyrics in triple time, completely neutralizing their somnolent qualities.

Still, it’s a lovely song, from the Beatles’s Abbey Road album. Lovely, but with something angry bubbling to get out. Perhaps my insomnia soundtrack should be more ragey (let it all out before sleep) or more sweet (no hidden anger).

Or I could take a pill.