Astonish Me

Prompt: Flick


She entered the darkened room silently, the glow of her cigarette acting as the dimmest of lamps, and saw the silhouette of a large cat crouched in front of a window draped with a thin lace curtain. She could smell embers from a now-dead dead fireplace. 

She sensed the movement to her right before she saw it, and spun on her heel, kicking hard in a fluid, violent movement — it was Nick, one moment licking his lips in triumph at tracking her down again, now reeling backward, turning, and hitting his head on the brick mantle. The cat was quick to pounce, bloodthirsty, to lick the crimson liquid pouring from his forehead like thick cream into a bowl. She could suddenly hear the tick of a clock and smell the burnt waxiness of the extinguished wick of a candle and felt a prick of fear scud along her spine.

She flicked the ash of her cigarette as the cat leapt back onto the windowsill. She felt sick, knowing Nick would survive to tell Vic about the trick she’d played, He’d once called her a hick, a foolhardy chick— now he lay ominously still at her feet. She had no choice: She pulled the Colt from her belt and heard the click as the gun was cocked. 

The cat, in silhouette, silent and angry, flicked its tail in the moonlight. 


Now that I have fulfilled my writing prompt responsibilities, in this case trying to incorporate as many ‘flick’ rhymes as I could into a rather thin story—which was the only idea that came to mind with this word prompt— may I now present a few of my favourite cartoons relating to the hero of our story, the cat, and her favourite prey?

cartoon cat editor

cartoon church mice

cartoon Astonish me


Peace and love,

~~FP

Agony Ant: Completely Normal Dude [Repost]

Prompt: Grammar

raccoon-plush-toytabby-cat-plush

Dear Agony Ant,

I am an 18-year old man currently living in a winter hunting cabin in the woods, almost a mile from the city limits. Fortunately, I have Internet reception, which has allowed me to complete my high school education via online courses, where I did particularly well in chemistry, grammar, and gymnastics (though the latter grades were mostly honour system).

I hunt, fish, and visit the Safeway to meet nutritional needs. I have several different indoor, hunting, foraging, and public clothing sets, so I am presentable when picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy, for example, as well as properly attired for hunting rabbits. The cabin has a generator but no heat, but I find the wood burning stove adequate for my warmth needs.

My companion in the cabin is my large tabby cat, named Ferdinand. He is a competent mouser and watch-cat (alerted me to a blockage in the chimney one night, which saved us both), and is also quite affectionate. There is also a particularly friendly and persistent raccoon, who visits daily, and recently had a litter of babies, who now also visit. Unfortunately, the cat and the raccoon have not become friends, and in fact are quite hostile towards one another.

But, that is not the problem for which I am asking advice, Ms Ant. It’s my high school graduation ceremony and subsequent prom. Since I live alone (Ferdinand notwithstanding), I have very few acquaintances of either gender, yet I long to escort a date to the celebratory dance and whatever festivities might follow (specifically, sexual contact and loss of virginity).

The correspondence school is sponsoring a modest gathering in a city 55 miles from here, in the grand ballroom of the Best Western Motel there, and they need confirmation from me about my attendance and food allergy information, as well as how many rooms I will be booking for the evening.

So my questions are: a) Where does one find a non-psychotic date who is willing to attend a correspondence school prom and who is also not averse to having sex with me, a stranger, afterwards; and b) is there an outlet that will exchange a carefully fitted and stylish suit rental for dried huckleberries and 20 lbs of assorted cured squirrels, pigeon, and blue snake (which tastes a lot like chicken)?

Yours truly,
Completely Normal Dude


Dear Completely Normal Dude,

Yes, you are normal, despite the surface aberrations of living like a hermit and serving tea to raccoons. You are a horny elderly teenager who desperately wants to get laid, and even went so far as to study online so you would have justification for this compulsion, since you are so socially inexperienced that you equate prom attendance with loss of virginity.

If you are financially able (maybe shoot a few more squirrels), I suggest hiring a pretty youngish woman from a reputable escort agency to dress appropriately as your date, play the role, and initiate you into the wonders of fornication after a few grinds on the dance floor. This is a win-win-win situation: A win for you, getting your cherry picked by an expert; for your date, who will make quite a lot of cash for an easy, though time-consuming, assignment (don’t forget she will likely not want to spend the night with you at the Best Western Motel, so you will need to provide transportation at the end of your liaison); and a win for the unsuspecting young woman, identity unknown, whom you were prepared to inflict your illusory impulses upon.

As for the suit, have you considered shop-lifting? Many big box stores, which some say harm local economies, now sell jackets and pants which would suffice. Keep the berries and snake bacon for yourself, since you never know what might happen.

And may I commend you on your exquisite grammar.

Peace and love,
agony ant


Dear Agony Ant,

How did you know about the tea?

Completely Normal Dude


Dear CND,

It is my job to read between the lines. Do not become too attached to the raccoons, and not just because it could alienate and cause a breach of trust with Ferdinand. I see heartbreak ahead if you fail to realize that raccoons are wild, free spirits who will also overturn your garbage can.

Peace and Love,
agony ant


  • Original Prompt: Hideout .February 21, 2017.

Cheer Up

Prompt: New Year


Greetings, Wednesday!

“2020” has a good ring to it. It implies perfect vision. It is reminiscent of the Roaring Twenties. It could very well be a good year, a less interesting year (alleged Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times), a year that we strive, accomplish, endure, enjoy, appreciate. A better year than 2019.

How can we ensure that 2020 is a better year? Here are some simple suggestions:

  1. Be kind to yourself. You are a human with limitations, not a superhero, but the beauty of humanity is that we are all unique. You bring something to the world that no one else can. What is it?
  2. Relearn how to cry. Happy cry, sad cry, doesn’t matter. It means you feel things. It’s ok.
  3. Vote.
  4. When you are feeling particularly frustrated or upset, take a few seconds to imagine you are looking down on yourself from a great height. The higher you go, the less afflictive the frustration becomes. Breathe. Be patient. Know that your neighbours  have sorrows too.
  5. Find a place where the air is fresh and the water is clean. Revel in it. Resolve to do your part, large or small, to make this accessible to everyone, everywhere.
  6. Make your world smaller. Buy local. Look people in the eyes instead of through text on a screen. Go for walks. Look around. Take time to feel what you feel, from base sensations to profound feelings of joy or distress.
  7. Pet your dog, or someone else’s, regularly.
  8. Say please. Smile. Hold the door. Offer your seat. Donate a winter coat. Give to the food bank. It’s not that hard to be a good person.
  9. Love freely, knowing it is an infinite resource.
  10. Enjoy the cartoons on Fluffy Pool, including the ones below!

cartoon new year still good

cartoon new year hat

cartoon new year trash


Peace and love,

~~FP

I appreciate your concern

Prompt: Thank you


Dear Wednesday,

Today is the 18th anniversary of 9/11, one of those events that are monuments in our memory— we will always remember where we were and what we were doing when the planes crashed into the towers.

I was roused from my bed in Houston, Texas, with the words, “You need to see this.” We had visitors from the UK, who had passed through Newark airport at the same time as the terrorists responsible for the carnage on the television.

That day we went ahead with our plans to drive to San Antonio. Firemen stood at the side of the road as we drove in, each holding a huge rubber boot. They wanted donations for the first responders.

Like everyone, we were numbed by the experience, and today the same visitors are with us here in tiny town. There is a pall of remembrance hanging over the house.

I wish there was something that 9/11 taught us, or added to our consciousness, or which caused us to seek real answers in a troubled world. But no, it turned out to be mainly a political opportunity for the craven and greedy. Whatever our hearts tell us about that day remains deep inside, private and personal.

But it is Wednesday, and the prompt is “thank you”, and sure, I am grateful that the loss of life was less than it might have been that day, that I am back living in Canada, that the sun is shining, and that it is the day that I present a few of my favourite cartoons.

May I?

cartoon thank you email

cartoon thank you croaking

cartoon cat thank you


Peace and peace,

~~FP

Showtime

Prompt: Mirror


Dear Wednesday,

Novelists often have their protagonists gaze into a mirror and assess their sorry lives as a way to develop character and interest the reader. I don’t know anyone who actually lingers staring at themselves while pondering their existence— there’s too much else to consider: That hair, what happened? Is that a pore or a crater? When did my left eye shift so far down my cheek? Is that nose mine? Why does my smile look painful? …We might have a moment of sharp mortality when we see wrinkles canyoning across the face, but that is the most reflection I indulge in while reflecting on my reflection.

The purpose of a mirror is to paint a fine stroke of eyeliner or tame a shock of hair. We are too much inside our heads at other times to bruise our egos with life assessment and judgement.

And in the right hands, mirrors are the source of fun and pleasure, and so may I present a few of my favourite cartoons related to today’s prompt, “mirror”?

cool cat

bad dog

showtime


Peach and lug,

~~FP

Indoor Cat

Prompt: Treat

 


Dear Wednesday,

What a treat it was to have bright sunshine, clean powder snow, and boys playing hockey on a makeshift frozen-lake skating rink (It’s hard to get more Canadian than that)! Warmer temps are forecast for later in the week, and it will be a shame when the snow turns to grey mush… but for today, a treat!

Our back patio reveals all the surreptitious guests we’ve had over the past few days, because of cat paw prints, quail prints, and mystery creature prints in the snow.  I hope the timing was such that none of them were making prints at the same time (I believe in indoor cats precisely because wild birds are so vulnerable).

Anyway, not related to treats but related to cat paw prints, is this small collection of favourite feline cartoons, which I present to you now:

cartoon two lions


cartoon indoor-cat


cartoon perfect dog


I adore dogs, but I respect cats!

~~FP

Sunblock

Prompt: Brave


Dear Wednesday,

What day is it? Are we close to Nanowrimo? I’m not ready to write my 1600 words per day. This takes courage. I don’t have any!

As in, I’m not brave, which is the daily prompt.

Why am I scared of a laptop and a keyboard and a story half-formed in my head? There are killers and monsters of all kinds out there roaming the earth, most disguised as human beings. Every time we step outside our door we risk being struck by lightning, attacked by a vicious dog, being in the line of fire when our neighbour cleans his rifle, looking up to see a nuclear warhead directed towards our front porch, or, sure, getting hit by a runaway bus. Yet I am ‘asceered’ of a number (albeit a large number) of words.

I forgot to mention other perils when we set forth into the world, which include failure, falling on our face, trailing toilet paper under our shoe, tucking our skirt into our undies, getting publicly caught in a lie, losing an ethical battle, being unable to pick up the fragments of our shattered lives and… well, you get the picture.

National Novel Writing Month challenges us to face failure– and win, or at least die trying. Not die exactly, but expend as much toil and angst as if he had written the full complement of 50,000 words. Which, they tell us, is an accomplishment, too!

Sure it is. Fine.

But I am a competitive person. Not with you, your him, or them, but with myself. It’s how I quit smoking! It’s how I managed to ‘win’ all previous Nanos. A better word might be stubborn. And, I love the couple of days after completing the challenge, when family and friends are so damn proud, even though they have not yet seen a word I’ve written and are taking my achievement on faith.

So to lessen the anxiety of the swiftly approaching November 1st, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, precisely none of which relate to today’s word prompt:

cartoon book of sunblock


cartoon Cat-Guru


cartoon image lineup


Have a happy, productive, courageous week.

~~FP

 

Before Prozac

Prompt: Polish


Dear Wednesday,

When I attended my niece’s wedding in May, I thought it was appropriate to have a pedicure and manicure as the finishing touches to my outfit. Some women wear polish all the time… I wear toe polish in the summer, and finger nail polish for weddings. When I die, my surviving family will have no need to dress me up. Weddings only.

Now the nail polish is chipping and it looks dreadful, like an old house with peeling paint.

When I remove it, my nails will breath– literally. Apparently polish suffocates the poor blobs of keratin. We should be kinder to keratin.

And with polish out of the way, here are a few of my favourite cartoons:

cartoon licking plate


cartoon prozac cat


cartoon not bad for art


Have a happy week!

~~FP

Dinosaur Family Unit

Prompt: Qualm

dinosaur family

I have qualms. You have qualms. Everyone has qualms. When we look at the word, the letters of the word, we realize that qualm is a word that is illegitimate because it is misunderstood.

If qualm was a real word, it would be like a crusty fungus. It would a hymn sung in Latvian. Qualm would be the clump of grass that gets stuck under your shoe. Or what the friend does who lies and then pretends it was to protect you.

A qualm is a line of verse in a free form poem that does not stand alone. It is an oak barrel used too many times to age wine. It is a mysterious lump on the back of your dog that feels like a tick but isn’t. It’s that slight breath of air from the bathroom when someone didn’t turn the fan on. A qualm is a mathematical term, meaning the flaw in the formula no one wants to recognize.

Have you ever watched a movie, and then forgot the ending? That is a qualm. A qualm is what a dinosaur family unit was called. It is that part of outer space that looks empty, but only because our telescopes aren’t strong enough.

A qualm is a reassurance from a double agent. A qualm is the unit of salt you put on the rim of a Margarita glass. It’s the sum of the ages of all your closest friends.

It is the shape of a lightning bolt, the smell of a firecracker, the velvety touch of the inside of a cat’s ear, an echo in a small room, a bullet meant for someone else.

Qualm.