The Iron Writer Challenge 95
500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements
The above image
A pair of skis
El Hijo del Esquís
“I don’t think that constume is going to work.”
“What’s wrong with it? Everyone else is going to be masked, why can’t I wear this?”
Two men are arguing in a well-furnished living space. One is dressed in normal clothes, the other in a full body suit of aqua vinyl with a mix between a space and football helmet on his head.
“For one,” says the first, “the festival you are aping traditionally features Andean archetype characters, and ‘dumb green alien’ is not one of them. For two, how well can you possibly move in that outfit?”
“It’s not about winning the fight for me. I don’t have any beef with anybody. It’s about proving I’ve got balls, and I think you’ll agree, no one else in town has the balls to wear this outside.”
The first man rolls his eyes. “I think there’s a reason for that.”
“Oh yeah?” The second man gets nose to…facemask with his companion. “Well how about you get yourself something more traditional and we’ll see how big yours are?”
“Don’t have a beef with anyone, huh?”
“I didn’t have any. Now I do.”
December 25th is Christmas for most people, but for some who live in the Andes mountains, December 25th has a different meaning. It’s the festival of Takanakuy, which is like injecting Thanksgiving with a dose of lucha libre. It’s even grown popular enough to be celebrated in surrounding cities, though traditions hold a little looser there.
Two men are in the circle. One is the man who was in costume before, the full body vinyl suit with the funny helmet. In full costume he also has on a light green ski mask; in this aspect, at least, he follows tradition.
His thrown back shoulders and head seem to indicate surprise at his opponent’s dress, a black leather catsuit with matching black boots. He also has a belt of woven together bacon strips, and his mask sports two miniature skis stuck to the back of his head.
Neither one speaks, but instead they wait for the official to signal the start of the fight. He does, and they lunge at each other, fists outstretched.
“You shouldn’t’ve worn those skis on the back of your head, man! What did you think was going to happen?”
“Yeah, because you really enjoyed it when you fell on your stupid face mask.”
“My face rib things were soft, because I knew I might end up falling on them.”
“I guess I didn’t think that through so much.”
“You really proved me wrong on your cahones, though. You looked ridiculous!”
He pauses for a moment.
“Can I steal that bacon belt? I think I can stuff it between my sausage looking rings and look even better next year.”
“You’re probably better off making your own.”
There’s another short silence, then the two friends laugh, their tension resolved.
“Bring it in, bud!” says the green-clad man, and the two share a firm hug for several moments.
“Hey!” he said, stepping too close to her. “Whatchu wont fer that carpet right there?”
He smelled of basement dirt.
He had literally dropped his bicycle at the curb, so she was sure he couldnt be serious.
Politely she responded, “$20,” with a smile.
“Ahhh haa haa!” he roared, “Yer kidding me! I tell you what, how ‘bout I mow yer lawn and you sell it to me fer…” he reached into his stained Dickies and pulled out a wrinkled dollar bill with change, “… $2?”
Again, she smiled politely and said, “No thank you.”
Feeling uncomfortable, she stepped around him and greeted an older lady holding a silver lamé garment – “How much would you take for these alien costumes?”
The bum stepped up to the older lady – “You want me to try it on fer ya? AAAHHHH HAHAHA!”
She quickly moved toward a handsome man looking at the pair of skis.
She said, “Good morning!” a little too loud, but the handsome man smiled and asked, “How much do you need for these skis and this ski mask?”
She moved to put her back to the bum, telling the handsome fellow, “Oh, that’s not a ski mask; it’s a traditional Takanakuy mask from Peru!”
“Interesting, I suppose I’ll take it,” he said with a smile.
“If you give me $50 for the skis I’ll throw in the mask,” she said, touching him on the arm.
“Deal!” he replied.
As the handsome man counted out $5 bills, the bum stepped up and slapped him on the back, saying, “Hey! You need help getting them skis tied to yer car?”
Irritated, she said curtly, “Sir, you may have the carpet, just please leave.”
His eyes fell like a scolded dog. “Well, okay. Didn’t mean to upset no one.” With that he tucked the carpet under his arm, mounted his bicycle, and peddled away.
She apologized to the handsome man. Smiling, he said, “No problem. Some people. You know?” He turned and slid the skis into the back window of his car.
That evening she reflected on the day. It was a good take for a yard sale – even if she had to give the carpet away.
Her mind drifted as she cut bacon for the green beans. Rinsing the cutting board something caught her eye through the sink window. A shadow moved across the elm in the back yard.
She stepped toward the back door, left open for the breeze.
As she reached to shut the sliding glass, a dark figure instantly appeared in front of her – the Takanakuy mask, raised butcher knife. The big knife slashed through the screen and through the meat of her raised forearm. She only had time to let out a brief scream as it cut through her esophagus. Her mind, confused and fogged, was as much in shock over the attack as seeing the Takanakuy mask.
As she lay on the ground, the warmth of her own blood pooling under her head, she heard a voice from under the mask.
“Yer boyfriend shoulda let me help with them skis…”
We both approached the center of the Takanakuy ring. Teresa looked determined, but I was not going to let her win again this year.
I slapped her across the face. She kicked me in the shin, but I continued to slap her. She continued to kick me, but I stood my ground.
“Halt!” a deep male voice shouted from behind me. Teresa looked over my shoulder, and I turned to see a man dressed in a green spacesuit. The crowd grew silent as the green man started to speak. “I come from the planet Gaijin to witness your fascinating human behavior. I want to study it further. Come.”
“No,” Teresa said.
“That’s not a request. It’s a command.”
“No!” Teresa shouted.
The green man snapped his fingers, and a flock of green men swarmed us. They lifted me, Teresa, and other participants over their shoulders and carried us into a house high up on a hill and locked us inside a cozy little bedroom lit only by a fire in the fireplace.
“What is the meaning of this?” my brother Tim asked from across the room.
“Look. A pair of skis!” Teresa exclaimed as she walked up to them.
“What are we going to do with those?” Tim asked. “Ski down the hill? There’s no snow on the ground!”
Teresa looked at the skis solemnly.
“I know!” I said. “We can use them as weapons!” Teresa’s eyes lit up, and she threw me a ski. The key started to jingle from the other side of the door. “Now’s our chance.”
A green man opened the door. I slapped the man across the face with one of the skis, while Teresa attacked his shins. He fell to the ground. We ran down the hallway and fought off the green men with our skis, while the rest of the captive people followed behind us.
We ran out the front door of the house. A green man grabbed me by the shoulder, but Teresa knocked him down. A group of green men swarmed us, while a green spaceship descended from the sky. A tall woman with long green hair, green eyes, and a long green dress walked down the spaceship’s ramp and said in a loud but sweet voice, “Come along now, my children. Earth isn’t ready for us yet. Let’s try again in a couple hundred years, and, hopefully, they will have outgrown their violent tendencies by then.”
The green men all flocked to the spaceship, and the spaceship flew out of sight.
“Well, what do you want to do now?” Teresa asked me. “Go back to Takanakuy?”
“Nah,” I replied. “Why don’t you come back to my house? My mom promised to make me bacon and eggs if I won the fight. I’ll share with you.”
“But neither one of us won.”
“We both won today. We fought off those aliens together, didn’t we?”
“I didn’t think of it like that.”
We threw the skis down on the ground and started to walk toward my house.
“Hey, guys, wait up!” Tim shouted from behind us. “I want some bacon and eggs too!”
Alice and I get along pretty well these days. It wasn’t always like this. Used to be we never confronted each other with, “issues.” Used to be we’d get our feelings hurt and go for weeks with a chip on our shoulder. That all changed on our Christmas vacation back in 2003.
We had packed our bags, and booked a room at a ski resort in Austria. Of course, we were still the same over-sensitive, and egocentric individuals we ever were, in spite of the luxury of our surroundings, and that baggage came with us, along with the skis.
One day, we had decided to camp outside overnight, and we were cooking breakfast over a wood fire when three Swedes came skiing up and stopped to visit.
We offered them coffee, so they took off their helmets and sat down. In their heavy Swedish accents, they explained they were here for a competition and had just come from a Christmas party; at which they had had a little too much to drink. That explained why they had red tree garlands wrapped around themselves.
Hans, Lars, an Inga had been friends since they were in school, and have remained friends well into their adult lives. They were telling us about the lifestyles of competition skiers when Lars mentioned something about having a certain type of skis. Hans kind of stiffened up, and got this scowl on his face. He stood up, pointed his finger at Lars, and said, “You owe me a pair of skis.” Lars stood up, “You gave me those skis.” Hans picked up some momentum with, “Those were my lucky skis; my grandmother gave me those!” Hans returned the emphasis with, “You never used them! They were just rotting in your attic!” Just when I was starting to get concerned about where this was going, Hans gives Lars a bit of a shove and declares, “Takanakuy!” Lars seemed to freeze as his mind wrapped around the implication of this turn of events. I looked over at Inga with curiosity. She looked unsurprised. Then, with a scream, Hans tackled Lars, and the two of them commenced to beat the crap out of each other.
After about 5 minutes, it was all over, and the two were best friends again.
Inga explained they had learned about this “Takanakuy” down in Peru. “It’s a way to vent; to release frustration; so it doesn’t simmer too long.”
After the three of them had gone on their way, I looked down at my breakfast plate, looked back up at Alice, and said sternly, “You ate my bacon!” She glared at me with sarcasm, so I shoved her over. She came up all over me, and we “fought” out 15 years of pent-up resentments right there on the Austrian slopes; in the snow.
We ended up back in the tent making passionate love.
That’s when we learned it’s not good to just sit on our resentments.
It’s best to deal with them quickly.
Dani J Caile
“Pass it over.” Jeff was hogging the joint. We’d come way out here into the forest to my uncle’s hut to check out our latest batch of Skunk. It was cool, it was strong.
“Okay, here you go,” said Jeff, reluctantly. “This stuff is the best yet, dude, best yet.”
He finally handed it over and I toked it up. Jeff was already setting up the next one and lighting it in the fire when I realised that it had gone suspiciously quiet. Too quiet.
“Can you hear that?” I asked.
“Ooo, good stuff, eh? Paranoia…”
There was a rustle in the hedgerow and four tall guys stepped out into the clearing, dressed up in silvery green outfits. Their faces were featureless.
“Please, Earthlings, don’t be alarmed now,” said one of them, standing in front of the others.
“What the hell!” Jeff panicked and ran into the hut, coming back out holding a broken part of a pair of skis in his hands, threatening the group. “Keep back, or I’ll use it!”
I held still, these weren’t our usual visitors. One of the four sided over to Jeff and gave him a sniff.
“No, O’ Lord Faceless, the smell does not come from here, though there are residues within his clothing and burn holes in his shirt.”
Jeff loosened his grip on the broken ski and looked down, noticing the holes.
“Oh man! This was my best shirt!”
“I think the source comes from this one, Faceless Two,” said the one in front, pointing at me. He was clearly the leader of the four.
“Yes, you, Earthling.” He sat down on the log next to mine. “Greetings, I am Lord Faceless from what you call the Centarus Supercluster, many suns from here. We were passing by and perchanced to smell such a sweet aroma that…” He reached down and picked up a bud. “Ah-ha. Comrades, I have found the source.” The others gathered around and took what was left of our batch.
“Err, help yourselves…aliens?” I spluttered.
“Why, thank you, Earthling, you are most kind.” I watched as he proceeded to shove a bud into the skin of his smooth face. “Oh yes, lovely.”
Jeff dodged a couple of the aliens fighting over a bud like they were two Peruvian girls having it out at a Takanakuy, arms and legs flailing about. He sat down at the fire and carried on with his joint. The seated alien took it from him.
“Hey!” complained Jeff.
“Mmm, Earthling, this really does hit the spot, especially after travelling 200 trillion light years.” The alien Lord Faceless toked the whole joint down to the roach through his skin.
“Well, I guess they don’t teach you to pass it along back on your planet,” I remarked. He ignored my statement and looked around the fire, grabbing his stomach region and making a smacking sound with no lips.
“Earthling, I think I have a serious case of the munchies. Do you happen to have any…bacon?”