The Iron Writer Challenge #179 – 2016 Annual Championship

The Iron Writer Challenge #179

2016 Summer Solstice Challenge Championship

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Alis Van Doorn, Mamie Pound, Dani J. Caile, Daniel J. Sanz, Tina Biscuit

The Elements:

Halloween Night

Apostrophe as an literary device

An orchard (you must state the type of orchard: apple, pear, peach, etc)

Metal doors on a school building

DuskMamie Pound

Mamie Pound

The invitation was hand written and wax sealed, slid under her door.

            “The pleasure of your company is requested.”

                               Halloween Night           

The directions led her down a twisting, wet trail, along the thick of the bayou. A late hurricane near the Keys bewitched the air, sent her hair flying all around, like one of the long-dead apparitions that appeared in the windows of the ruined hotels.

Tupelo Trees, standing knee-deep in in the brackish water, looked like skirted, gnarled, old women, sprouted from the underworld.

And the behemoth, orange moon seemed complicit.

Chills danced along her spine. A dark forboding tinged her every thought.

But just as all seemed lost, she spotted a small cabin at the edge of the water.

She knocked on its metal doors.

No one answered.

She drew her velvet cape closer and knocked again.

“Who’s there?” Said a voice, low and smokey.

Instead of answering, she shuddered, imagining the beasts swimming under the dock,

and banged again. The sound reverberated past her, into the wading trees, who swallowed it and zippered shut.

And now stood silent, watching and waiting.

The door slid open. Before her was a man with the blackest eyes she’d ever seen. Darker than the depths of the Mississippi.

“Hello.”

His accent reminded her of the dock traders and the bearded pirates that sailed into the harbor, their tongues, a music of French and Cajun.

His teeth were brilliant, white and pointy. And while his smile was wide, his eyes were solemn, arresting.

She couldn’t find her voice.

Behind him, three other men sat at a table, holding cards. A haze of blue smoke hung above their heads.

She blushed.

“Most people say ‘trick or treat’,” he said.

“I must be lost,” she stammered.

His house was dark, only a blazing fire in the hearth and candles, even at the card table.

“I must be at the wrong house. Are you…?”.

His dark beauty,…she was unable to look away.

“Leopold Lessinger.”

There was a razor nick just under his jawline, so beautifully placed, it almost seemed purposeful.

He raised a hand to cover it.

“Maybe I’ve made a mistake,” she said.

Electricity crawled across the sky, silhouetting the orchard of Spanish Moss hanging from the Cypress. Thunder rattled the glass.

“You got my invitation?” he asked.

“So it was you?” she said.

“I’ve been watching you for so long. I can’t believe you’re actually here.”

“Watching me?” She felt faint.

“I meant waiting for you…” he whispered and kissed her hand.

And she found herself unable to think of much of anything, except his beautiful mouth. She wanted to draw closer to this complete stranger. Wanted to inhale him.

Her mind raced with fear and an insatiable hunger, unknown to her before now.

“Oh, blackest night, what trickery have you played? What spell must have you allowed the moon, that I hunger for this madness, surrender to its will?”

Without any other word, he slipped his hand behind her neck.

And she did not try to stop him.

In the darkness, a Screech Owl’s desperate cry echoed across the water, disappeared into the night.

Little HyenasDaniel J. Sanz

Daniel J. Sanz

It was Monday morning and Conrad Brown’s fingers were already bleeding. He grimaced and clutched the ratty sponge in one hand and a can of mineral spirits in the other. His knees ached from the tile but the obscenity of the black marker had about scrubbed away.

He straightened under the protest of cascading crackles in his spine and wrapped a towel around his wrinkled fingers.

“Brats.”

His voice echoed between the lockers of the school hallway. He relished the graffiti free-wall while he could. Any moment these halls would be a stampede of self-entitled, ungrateful larvae and he could foresee himself scrubbing the wall again before the day’s end.

Flinging the towel into the trash, he gave the receptacle a satisfying kick before shuffling back to his custodial cart.

Pushing it past the scribblings of ghosts and jack-o-lanterns that adorned the walls, he stopped to pick up a black and orange streamer that had freed itself from its scotch-taped binding. He cracked a frown realizing today they would be dressed up as the little monsters they were, on a sugar high.

Conrad looked ahead to a giant cartoon mural sprawled across the yellow bricked wall. “Arlington Park Little Hyenas” arched overhead the titular mascot, adorned in a cowboy hat and a beaming grin.

“Oh how you mock me!”

Conrad glared at his imaginary adversary. “How you laugh at me! Judge me! Watch me waste away into this servitude!”

He used to love that hyena, years back when he bounced around these halls, but now he couldn’t stand its sight. It reminded him of a fonder time in which afternoons were spent riding bikes, playing stickball, and picking apples from Montgomery’s Orchard.

Conrad scoffed at the memory. “The only apples kids appreciate these days are made of plastic and glass.”

He leered at the hyena.

“I’ve had enough, I’m done!”

He looked down the hallway towards the exit.

“Why do I stay here? I should have quit a long time ago!”

He drew in a deep breath. All he had to do was walk through those doors and he was free.

But it was too late. They kicked open against their metal frames and the thunderous boom rolled over him chased by the hollers of the incoming hoard.

A flock of waist-high goblins, trolls, and witches flooded in, reeking of insubordination and Butterfingers. He closed his eyes and waited for them to pass. His only solace was the thought of freedom as he exited that door and ignored the sea of candy wrappers that was surely waiting for him.

Suddenly he felt a small tug on his arm. He glanced down and a little ladybug stood before him. A hyena-like smile spread across her red painted face. She held a box of mini cupcakes. Orange frosting with black sprinkles.

“Happy Halloween Mr. Brown!” She handed him one of the cakes and scrambled off.

The bell rang and the halls fell quiet. Conrad stood there, staring at the cupcake. He looked back at the mural and sighed.

“Well what’s the hurry?” he asked, crouching down to pick up a candy wrapper.

A Story of O

Tina Biscuit 

O bountiful orchard, flourishing well. We furrowed your rows, in days that have gone. We planted your seeds, and built three strong walls; the gates of the school completed the square. Now, they are rusted, remember their squeal. The burgeoning children, who poured out to play, they tended your whips, and nurtured your heart. The whips spread out branches, a new ring each year – so did the children, absorbing the light. They played in soft snow, which melted to blossom. They knocked off your buds, with frolics of summer. Soon came the autumn, you offered them fruit. Before apples fell, was Halloween time. First it was strange, you thought it was dark; faces were painted, so frightful, yet fun. Your halcyon days had barely begun. O orchard, you were so young. 

The river was filling, the reservoir full. The clouds were so black, obscuring the sky. The lightning discharged, forks tearing through gloom. Your fibrous roots trembled; the rumbling began: your trees were predicting, the deluge to come. The riverbanks burst, collapsing the church, torrential cascades tumbling through town. Houses were spilled, as though they were toys. We thought of the children, marooned in their class. Helpless we watched, and prayed for their lives: twelve children perished; twelve spirits lost. 

We buried small caskets, in your tender care. You were our last hope, which wasn’t enough. We left you as pasture, for travellers’ succour. We still come to visit, the graves of the past; we still bring you flowers, to show that we care. They brighten the spot, where nothing else thrives. Your walls are entwined, with ivy and moss. Our bodies are old; the trail is so long. 

O orchard, we miss them, on this hallowed night. We feel the dead rising, no longer with scorn. Those twelve, tiny mounds, rustling with leaves: the quilts you provided, keeping them snug. Their bones are so heavy; they struggle to run. They dreep from your branches, their cold fingers warm. Halloween songs purge water from lungs; cries become laughter, and pain becomes sun. They dance through your avenues, spreading joy as they go. Children cavorting, under canopies green, reclaiming memories, they laugh at the moon. The metal doors drum, as they bang them for fun. The teachers are gone now, and so is their school. Of course they don’t know that; we’re sure you won’t tell. Give them their night, to play in your boughs; shelter their innocence, and don’t tell a soul. 

The peduncle snaps; your last apple falls: no longer forbidden, forever unpicked.

Hell, Yeah!Dani-J-Caile

Dani J Caile

Me and the gang were having a good ol’ get together for Halloween night, just like when we were young. Tom couldn’t make it, he was on duty at the Police station, tonight of all nights, but Arthur, Dave, Andy and Josh filled the living room with their noisy, rowdy behaviour. Except Josh. He’d taken a seat by the window and stared out at the night sky, looking forlorn. Thankfully, there were no plans to revisit any apple bobbing like we did back in ’99 after stealing a basketful from Mr. Wilson’s apple orchard down on Church street, but we were going Trick-or-Treating.

“Eh, Bob! I’ve got your costume here!” said Andy, throwing a Wonder Woman top into my face as I entered from the kitchen. Arthur and Dave had already chosen theirs; Batman and Robin, respectively. Andy was Superman, of course.

“Why do I get to wear the girly costume?” I asked, throwing them a few cans of beer. I attempted to pass one to Josh but he was oblivious to what was going on around him. A crumpled Spiderman outfit lay next to him on the sofa.

“Because you’re a girl!” screamed Andy, accompanied by laughter from the other two. The boys chinked their cans together and drank. Josh broke their silence.

“Oh, Moon, rise and let your cooling light douse my burning heart of pain; if you pity me, seize my desires, my hopes and smash them to the stars of the night!” whined Josh.

“What’s his problem?” I asked. Out of the five of us, Josh was the smartest, but unfortunately looked like a monkey’s arse.

“He fell in love with ‘you-know-who’,” said Dave. He wiped beer from his mouth and chest bumped Arthur.

“But she’d never go out with him,” I said. Andy dived on me and forced a long, black wig onto my head.

“Tell him that,” said Dave.

“Oh great, that’s all we need on Halloween night, a bleeding heart!” said Andy.

“Quiet, he might hear you,” I said, swapping my costume for his. Before anyone objected, I was Spidey.

“So? Are we ready to go out on the town?” screamed Andy.

“Hell Yeah!” we cheered.

*****

I counted four, including myself.

“Where’s Josh?” I asked. Something was bashing the inside of my head with a sledgehammer. “Anyone seen him?”

“Not me,” said Arthur, a hollow voice coming from the bowl of the toilet.

“I thought he was with you,” said Andy. Dave was still zonked out on the sofa with some green vegetable stuck up the back of his trousers. A mobile phone rang, it was Andy’s. After searching, we found it under a pile of empty cans in the corner.

“Yeah? Uh-huh? Oh. Right.” Andy dropped his phone in his pocket and headed for the door.

“Who was that?” I asked.

“It was Tom.”

“What does he want?” asked Arthur from the bowl.

“He wants to know why Josh is dressed up as Wonder Woman, completely drunk, moaning on about some ‘moonrise’ and chained to the metal doors of our old school building. Anyone coming with me?”

Oh, Brother!Alis Van Doorn

Alis VanDoorn

“Lily, hurry up!” called Lily’s mother, voice just this side of pleasant. Lily gave a final twirl to her hot pink troll hair point, pleased with her adorable troll dress, creatively shortened a bit, the matching tights, gave her pointed troll slipper boots a blissful smile, and her mind full of Sam’s reaction, sailed downstairs, all fetching troll glory.

“Lily! Now!” Her mother’s voice now on the other side of pleasant.

“Coming!” She troll pranced onto the front porch, stopped short. “Riley! Where’s your troll costume?”

An eight year old scary clown puffed out his chest and said “I’m too old for that. I’m a killer clown! I’ll scare everybody!”

“Well, where’s your candy pail?”

The small killer clown slapped his forehead and raced off to get it.

“Lily, I know you planned on meeting your friends after trick or treating, but you’ll need to stay with Riley afterwards, answer the door.” “Daddy’s working late, he won’t be home till about nine.”

“But why can’t you be here? It’s Halloween! It’s not fair!”

“I’ll be at the rectory, tomorrow’s All Saints. Just catch up with them after the bonfire.”

Realizing argument was futile, Lily sighed dramatically, the sigh of put upon 16 year olds everywhere.

Joining the neighborhood trick or treaters, a sixteen year old troll doll, a tiny killer clown, walked hand in hand.

Dark fell, and soon they were home, diving into candy, answering the door.

By nine thirty, still alone; Lily was getting anxious. She’d have to catch up with everyone by short-cutting through the old apple orchard to the abandoned school. Not her favorite way, spooky even on clear summer nights. If she didn’t leave now, Sam wouldn’t get to see her costume. Which was the whole point.

Lily looked at Riley, currently on a sugar high.

“Riley, I need to leave now, I’ll barely make it even cutting through the orchard. Promise you’ll stay here, not answer the door until Daddy gets home?”

Riley nodded, Lily turned off the porch lights, locked the door and took off running, never noticing the tiny killer clown following.

As Lily reached the orchard, the moonlight dimmed. “Come on, don’t be such a baby.” Lily told herself, trying to ignore an increasing dread. Lily picked up the pace, certain she heard branches moving.

Suddenly she stopped, hearing something behind her. To her left she saw a pair of glowing red eyes, shrieked, took off running.

Just then she heard a desperate little voice choke out “Lil, wait!”

Lily turned, a tiny, terrified killer clown running, sobbing into her arms. “Lil, there’s something back there, something bad. We gotta hide.”

Picking him up, Lily ran for the school, hoping to make it around the side to the open field and bonfire. But the bonfire was out, the field deserted. Frantically she looked for a hiding place. Suddenly she saw a pair of metal doors in the ground leading to the basement. Dropping Riley, Lily yanked hard to no avail. They were stuck.

“Lil.” Riley was pointing behind her, finger shaking.

Lily turned around slowly.

Something was there, impossible to see, equally impossible to miss the menace that seemed to shiver the air.

“Leave us alone! Whatever you are, you are not getting my brother or me! Now go, go back to the cemetery. I banish you in the name of all that’s holy, good and true, go now or face your due.”

Suddenly, the air was clear again, the moon came out from the clouds and Lily and Riley ran.

They took the long way.

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The Iron Writer Challenge #177, 2016 Autumn Equinox Challenge Championship Preliminary Round, Nancy Taylor Rosenberg Bracket

kid-bango-dog

The Iron Writer Challenge #177

2016 Autumn Equinox Challenge Championship

Preliminary Round

Nancy Taylor Rosenberg Bracket

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

 The Elements:

A kid playing a banjo to a dog
Bullying 
A limit
A life in danger

nantaylorsmall

Nancy Taylor Rosenberg Bracket

Maureen Larter, Michael Cottle, Bobby Salomons, Dani J. Caile

The Double ActDani-J-Caile

Dani J Caile

I’d never come out of that front door so fast in my life. I thought someone was dying with the amount of hollering I heard. But they weren’t. I looked around, and there he was, my little brother Johnny sitting on the porch, playing Grandpa’s old banjo badly and singing along to it – if that was singing, the only similarity being that it came from his mouth – while Timbo the dog tied up on his chain, normally a vicious little creature, barked and whined next to him.

“Johnny! What the hell are you doing?” I’d been left in charge for the afternoon but I must’ve dozed off in the heat.

“Playing to Timbo,” said Johnny, messing up notes and timing as he went along. His hands didn’t walk along the fingerboard, more like stumbled.

“That’s Grandpa’s banjo! You can’t play that!” I moved closer but the noise only got louder.

“That’s what you think. Timbo likes my playing.” Timbo barked and growled in agreement.

“No, you’re not allowed to play it, Johnny, it’s a family heirloom!” I went to reach for it but Timbo almost snapped my hand off. His saliva dripped from my sleeve.

“It’s not a hair loon, it’s a banjo! See!” He concentrated hard with his tongue hanging from his mouth, and he scratched at the instrument as best he could.

“Johnny! You’ll ruin it! What will Ma and Pa say when they get back?” There was no hiding place from the din.

“They will say what a great banjo player I am!” My little brother and the family’s guard dog. A great double act.

“Please, Johnny, stop!” I was sure my ears had started bleeding.

“I will never stop! I will play forever and ever! I will play this banjo everywhere!”

“Oh, come on! They…they won’t let you play it in school!”

“Oh yes, they will! They will call me ‘Johnny Banjo’!”

“It’s more likely that your life will be in danger, Johnny! You’re gonna suffer a lot of bullying when you get to school! Banjos aren’t cool, bro, trust me! It’ll make you look like some redneck, or even worse, like that mountain hillbilly kid in ‘Deliverance’,” I said, pressing my hands over my ears as he hit some bum notes in whatever song he thought he was singing.

“Who? Is that a place?” smiled Johnny. He continued to twang along as the dog accompanied him with moans and yelps.

“No, it’s a movie!”

“I don’t like movies. I like the banjo!” he replied, plucking away. The noise was excruciating!

“Oh man, there’s a limit to what I can take!” I screamed. With one quick thought, I took Timbo’s chain off. Realising he was free, he took one look at the banjo and ripped it from Johnny’s hands. The strings were the first to go, followed by the neck and finally the head. Good boy!

“You’re in for it now,” I said to Johnny. He ran into the house crying at full volume. Plus one.

Short and SweetMaureen Larter

Maureen Larter

“I’m ashamed of you, son.” his father said gruffly. “Standing out there in the street, jiggling about to the music.”

“But I love performing – it gives me a sense of belonging. I really enjoy the sound of the banjo – it makes me happy.”

“I don’t care,” his father growled. “There’s a limit to what we should do to please the crowd.”

“It’s only a front, you know,” Billy nodded to his Dad a wise knowing in his eyes. “I do it so I’m there when the bullying starts.”

His father frowned. “What bullying?”

Billy cleared his throat and stood tall. “The other kids treat my human as if he’s a freak, and it isn’t fair.”

“Stop whining,” His father shook his head. Spittle and hair scattered across Billy’s face.

“But Daaaad,” Billy rolled onto his back and pawed the air. “My human is a happy little chap, and if those bullies get to him his life might be in danger.”

“Oh for goodness sake, Billy,” his father howled. “You keep this ‘performing’ up and I’ll let the cat know – and then it will be YOUR life that’ll be in danger!”

A Glimmer of HopeBobby Salomons

Bobby Salomons

There was something soothing about the absurdity of a young boy playing banjo to a dog. To him a friend was a friend. There was no separation, no judgement, no prejudice to who and what he was – just the simple given of a friendship. Surely the dog knew not what was played to him but he listened intently, as to him the friendship was just as dear.

I reminisced on the meaning of friendship in a small town like this. Though I grew up here, friendship I never knew. There was a strange tradition of bullying, one founded on old principles and targets picked by careful choice. It mattered little what effort would be made, once you were picked on, you’d get picked on again. And word spread like wild fire, who was to be ignored, it knew not a limit to a school or a playground and it grew with you over time. Like a social cancer, without warning and without treatment.

The threshold of being picked on was set by simple principles. Wrong of color, wrong church, parents falling out of grace after a divorce or simple rumors of. Conditions easy to reach with no intent or control of your own. Still they were enough to haunt you.

The chords of the banjo returned me to the present as I had wallowed in self grief. The dog raised its head towards the sky and stretched its chest like a great tenor worthy. From its throat yodelled the ugliest of sounds that hurt the ears like needles. But the young boy smiled with intense delight. They were performing now, together. And that was all they needed.

I sat and watched the two till my ears could no longer give. I grabbed the lid from the hood of the vehicle and placed it onto the lukewarm Styrofoam cup. Before it closed well, I could see how my pigments matched the caffeinated innards of the cup. Bullied for that simple reason.
But as the dog wailed once more, I could not press back the smile that formed from ear to ear. Those days were behind me.

The muffled noise of radio chatter slipping through a window crack. A life in danger.

As I opened the door to step into my vehicle, the light struck my badge and a golden glimmer blinkered across the street. They met the eyes of the young boy – blinding momentarily. He looked at me and smiled. A small hand raised to greet me as I drove passed to answer my duty. To protect and serve – free of the limitations of separation, without judgement and prejudice.

Buster

Michael Cottle

Chip found a spot under a large pecan tree where he settled down upon the sidewalk. He traveled light with a peanut butter sandwich in a sack and a banjo strapped around his neck. Sure enough, Buster came up and sat right down beside him. He looked at Chip and turned his head sideways as he made a small whining sound.

“Buster, you already had your breakfast” Chip said. “This is mine boy.”

Buster whined again and turned his head to the other side.

“Alright boy” Chip said. “Here, take half of this. There’s only one sandwich though, so that half is for you and this half for me. That’s all I got. Ok?”

Buster grabbed his half, and chewed on it until the peanut butter coated his mouth. Buster was still working on the peanut butter when Chip finished his sandwich and washed it down with a thermos of milk.

 “It’s really sticky” Chip said. “Here you go.”

 Chip raised the last little bit of milk in his thermos and poured it into Buster’s mouth.

 “That’ll help a bit boy” Chip said.

Chip put away his lunchbox and turned to his banjo. He began to play a bit of “Turkey in the Straw” as Buster finally stopped licking. Buster rested his face on his paws, and there they sat awhile just like that. Chip played every song he knew a couple of times over.

There may have been many more afternoons to pass like this, except for a kid named Bobby. He rode up on his bicycle popping wheelies and generally showing out a bit. Chip stopped playing and looked away. He never cared much for Bobby. Bobby was never too nice towards Chip, or anyone else that Chip knew for that matter.

“Watcha doin’ there Chip?” Bobby asked as he stopped his bicycle. “Are you playing your geetar?”

“It’s a banjo” Chip said.

 “You wouldn’t know how to play a real geetar anyway. Would ya? I’ll bet your old man couldn’t ford a real geetar. And that’s why you play that stupid banjo. It sounds like a drunk chicken with its head cutoff. You hear me Chip?”

Chip wouldn’t look at Bobby. He wanted him to go away, but he wouldn’t. Bobby threw his bicycle on the ground, and grabbed Chip by his shirt collar.

“Look at me when I’m talkin’ to ya’ boy!”

Bobby shook Chip, and Chip swallowed hard. Chip could hardly speak when Buster let go a low growl. Bobby wadded up Chips’ shirt, and that was more than enough for Buster. Buster jumped up and clamped on Bobby’s wrist. Bobby fell backwards and begin to holler in a panic. Finally, Chip recovered just in time to pull Buster off of Bobby before he done much more damage.

Bobby took a few stitches in his left wrist, but he never messed with Chip again. Chip never really got over Buster being put to sleep. Chip lost his audience, and gave up the banjo. Most folks in town said that bulldogs are just like that. They said that you couldn’t really trust them anyway.

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The Iron Writer Challenge #170, 2016 Summer Open Challenge #7

The Iron Writer Challenge #170 

2016 Summer Open Challenge #7

The Paul Arden Lidberg Challenge

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

  Authors:

Dani J. Caile, C. S. E. Greenberg, Megan Cypress, Kenneth Lawson, Katie Clark

The Elements:

A man shoveling water

A dragon

Ice cream

A cloud that looks like something.

A Place to Sit

Kenneth Lawson

All he wanted to do was find an original Eames Lounge Chair. Was that too much to ask?  Copies were plentiful. Bad copies, good copies, The better ones had the dimensions right but were off by some other details. The really bad ones had the basic shape and concept, and that was about all.  Cheap vinyl,  that stuck to you like melting ice cream on a hot summer’s day.  The really bad ones felt like sitting on a 1940’s vinyl couch.  You know, the kind that sticks to you when you try to get up.  

Finding an original Eames Lounge Chair was like looking for the elusive Dragon of old.  His search was starting to take his toll on him. He  swore he saw clouds that looked like that chair.  His quest had been compared to the man shoveling water out of the fast filling tub. He was beginning to think there were no more original Eames Lounge Chairs in existence. He knows he could go and buy a new chair identical to the ones made in the 1950’s. But he didn’t want a modern version. He wanted the original.  

After many years of searching, he had finally given up on his dream.  

One day he walked into a little shop in a town he never heard of.  He was killing time between trains and had a couple of hours to kill.  He reverted to his usual habit of cruising antique shops and thrift stores. The shop was overflowing with pieces from every period. After talking to the owner, he asked if he had any Mid Century Modern furniture.  Yes, he did have a couple of pieces he thought might be what he was looking for.   The owner pointed him to a back room.    There in a corner it sat. An Eames Lounge Chair. His heart stopped beating for a second. But was it real?  He carefully made his way through the sea of chairs and tables piled various items that had long outlived their usefulness. He got close enough to really see it. His hand went into shock at touching real leather, not plastic.   He looked it over more carefully. After a half hour’s examination, and doing research on  his phone. 

It was an original Eames Lounge chair, in brown leather, with the ottoman. 

Hiding his excitement as he returned to the owner.   He asked about  where it had come from, and, how much. It was clear he had no idea what it was.    

The price 500.00.  He knew the ottoman alone was worth far more than that. 

He made a call.  He wrote out a check and handed it to the old man.  Telling  him, His wife would be by later to pick it up.

After the man had left, the old shop owner looked at the check more carefully. It had been made out to 5,000.00 dollars. There was a note attached to it. 

He told him the chair was worth far more than the 500 he had been asking for, and he couldn’t in good conscience only give that to him. 

His quest was over.  He had his place to sit. 

Care for Lunch?Dani-J-Caile

Dani J Caile

“I can’t believe they put me on this,” said Apprendice Knight Arthur Legg (Second Class), complaining to his pet chicken Tina while shovelling water from the drainage ditch out of sight of the castle. “Why don’t I ever get battlements duty or jousting or bodyguard to the princess?”

“Buk buk,” said Tina.

Arthur had been emptying the ditch for hours but it always seemed to be full… a sound of thunder filled the bright blue sky. “What’s that?” He looked up to see a small, black cloud, moving with speed towards them. “Funny, I can’t feel any wind today, and that’s going at a hell of a speed… and it’s losing height?” The cloud was getting closer. “Looks like a bird. Or is that…” It dissipated to reveal a… “Dragon!” Before he could duck for cover, it landed in the ditch, covering him, Tina and itself, with mud.

“Excuse me,” said the dragon as they all picked themselves up. “No good with landings.”

“Dragon!” screamed Arthur.

“Buk buk!” clucked Tina.

They both tried to escape from the ditch but failed miserably. Arthur saw that their green, winged intruder was crying. “Nobody loves me!” cried the dragon. “Because I’m no ‘F’ dragon, they say go away!” It took out a handkerchief and blew it’s long, freckled, smoking nose.

Arthur, against his better judgement, slowly moved over to the dragon. Tina gingerly followed. “There, there, it can’t all be that bad,” he said.

“Bad? Bad? My family said ‘go’! I no have ice cream or cake!” said the dragon.

“Ice cream?” asked Arthur. What had ice cream got to do with a dragon?

“Yes, family ask, ‘How many scoops?’ and I say…” The dragon held up two fingers.

“And?” asked Arthur. He was perilously close to the monster. And seeing as he was an Apprendice Knight (Second Class), they hadn’t given him a sword for protection.

“I’m a…” The dragon put his hands together to show a ‘T’. “…dragon. Rare, and dangerous. And dumb!” It started crying again. The ditch began to fill up with more water.

“You’re a…’T’ dragon?” asked Arthur. The dragon nodded. “What does that mean?”

“Whenever I say…” It showed a ‘T’ again. “…I make fire. I use the Hungarian word for fire. See? Túz!” Flames gushed from the dragon’s mouth and the water in the ditch evaporated around them, leaving only solid earth.

“Wow!” said Arthur.

“Yes, but I’m one in a million. Dragons make fire using ‘F’ words. Me, no. I’m dumb!” moaned the dragon.

“So what if you use ‘T’ words instead of ‘F’! Who cares?” smiled Arthur, happy that his work was done. Maybe now he could relax a little, go back to the castle, have a few beers…

“Really?” smiled the dragon. “My name’s Shagwee. Yours?” He offered his claw.

“Arthur.”

“Arfur. And the small bird?”

“Tina,” replied Arthur.

“Tina.” When the flames subsided, a lovely roast chicken rolled to a halt on the ground. “Sorry, my bad,” blushed Shagwee. “Care for lunch?”

The Mighty Dragon(fly)

Katie Clark

WHOOSH… SPLITTER-SPLATTER…CRASH

Drake the dragonfly struggled with the storm, two legs clutched to grass, two entwined with Freya’s.

With a mighty FLASH and ZWOSH the wind wrested Drake from the grass.

They were tossed asunder, until one of Freya’s slender hands slipped.

“Don’t let go!” Her wings beat fast as his heart.

“Never!” His wings matched her wings beat for beat.

But the storm snatched Freya’s other hand. Her silver face and scarlet eyes receded in the distance as she was thrown away from him. His head slammed into a swirling leaf and he lost consciousness.

“SHOVEL FASTER!”

Drake startled awake. He’d landed on top a golden water lily in a pond.

“HELP!” Drake saw a group of ants stranded on a maple-leaf boat.

“SHOVEL FASTER!” a large-mouth bass belched, but the rain refilled the boat.

“Hail, fellow storm survivors!”

“The mighty dragonfly will save us!”

“Have you seen another dragonfly?” he asked. “Her name’s Freya.”

“Only you, our savior.”

“I can’t save you; I must find Freya,” he said. “Why are you here?”

“Captain Halle at your service,” a large red ant bowed, “We’re tricked, we listened to this bass.”

“NONSENSE! I told you that the white sweet frozen treat dropped at the edge of the pond was to DIE for.“ he nudged the leaf.

“Save us!”

“I don’t understand,” said Drake.

“Alas,” said Halle, “we ate it all, and then the rain carried us away.”

“It’s our shame.”

“Come on in little ants, the water is fine!” said the bass.

“Help us!”

Drake looked out across the pond for Freya, but didn’t see her. “How can I help?”

“You can help them swim with me!” laughed the bass.

“Oh no, we can’t swim!”

“Can you push us to shore with your powerful wings?” asked Halle.

“I shall try.” Drake thrashed his wings and pushed as hard as he could.

“Look, it’s working!”

The wind pushed back.

“HA! Look at the MIGHTY dragonfly,” said the bass.

Out of breath and sore of heart, Drake stopped his fluttering. “He’s right; I couldn’t even save my love.”

“Don’t give up!”

“I just can’t”

“All is not lost!” said Helle. “The great NIDO, the storm sprite, rewards all that show strength in spite of sorrow. Try again.”

Drake breathed deeply and once more heaved against the wind. The air around them became still and the water calmed.

Drake’s reflection transformed; dark clouds extended in all directions. As his reflection changed, his strength surged.

“NIDO has come; the mighty Dragon is with us!”

“HA! I see only a fly,” mocked the bass.

Suddenly, an osprey swooped down, captured the bass, and flew away.

“We are saved!”

Drake gave one last push and the leaf struck the sandy bank.

“All hail the Dragonfly!” chanted the ants as they crawled to shore.

Drake’s wings drooped as he watched the ants wind their way through the grass jungle.

“Drake?”

“Freya!”

They flew towards each other and landed the bahiagrass.

“I shall never leave you again,” said Drake.

“You have found your Freya,” said Halle. “The great NIDO rewards those that persevere; you are indeed a MIGHTY dragonfly.”

There Must Be Something in the Water

Megan Cypress

Doug paced around his tiny efficiency apartment as he talked to his lawyer on his government-issued cell phone. “So you’re saying I need to do something to benefit the community to convince the judge not to send me to jail?”

“Yep,” Mr. Lawson replied.

“Like what? People don’t like working with thieves.”

“I’m sure you can come up with something.”

Doug looked out the window at a puddle of water that lay in a ditch. “I got just the thing.”

Doug grabbed a shovel out of his closet that he had previously stolen from the Home Depot.

He ran outside and jumped into the puddle and started shoveling. He scooped shovelful after shovelful….right back into the puddle. He worked on it for a half-hour. “Why won’t this water go down any further?” He tossed down his shovel and lay down on the muddy ground. He looked up at the clouds above him as they passed. He pointed to one. “A dragon! That’s what I need. Come here, Dragon!”

The dragon-looking cloud transformed into an actual dragon and came down to earth and blew the puddle away with a big gust of his fiery breath.

Doug gave the dragon a thumbs up. “Good job, Dragon!”

The dragon flew up to the sky and blended back in with the clouds.

Doug grinned. “I’m going to take credit for the dragon’s hard work.” He snapped a picture of the puddle with his phone. He got distracted though before he looked to see how it turned out because he heard the ice cream truck playing “Do Your Ears Hang Low?”

Doug ran to the truck, his wet jeans weighing him down, but he was determined to get ice cream for his job well done.

Doug caught up to the truck and ordered an ice cream cone and licked the soft clouds of vanilla soft serve off the cone.

When he was finished his ice cream, he looked at the picture on his phone. The puddle was full again in the picture. “I don’t get it. The dragon took care of this.”

“No, he didn’t,” a voice whispered from the sky.

Doug looked up to see the face of the dragon form in the cloud. “I’m only a figment of your imagination. If you want to shovel that puddle away, you better get to work.”

Doug shrugged. “Well, it was the thought that counted anyway.”

When Doug went back to court for his sentencing date, he told the judge all about his attempt to clear a puddle out of a ditch to protect the the neighborhood kids who might fall in it or the cars that might get stuck in it. He even showed him the picture on his phone and told the judge about his efforts. The judge was unamused and sentenced him to spend a month in jail.

When Doug entered his jail cell, he lay his head down on his pillow. “Oh, well,” he said to himself before he fell asleep, “at least I got some ice cream before serving my time.”

A Dragon’s Weakness

C. S. E. Greenberg

Dark clouds spread like ribbons across the sky. An old man looked up from his fields. The scaly black skull burst forth from behind the ribbons, the dragon tangling its gleaming black body in vapor and thunder. The dragon roared, and the old man dropped his rake and ran towards the castle.

*****

“The dragon must be stopped!”

The elder’s face reddened, his voice too loud to be addressing his lord. Sir Maron’s face contorted, and the elder blanched. “I mean, sir, we need your help!”

A stranger approached. “Sir, if you need help with a Dragon, I’d be more than willing to assist you.” The knight’s eyes brightened, and looked at the stranger. He was dressed in the style of an tinker, his pack bulging, a shovel fastened on the back.  

“How can you help?” the knight demanded.

“I can get the dragon to leave. But I’d require as much ice cream as could fill my wagon as pay.”

Sir Maron of Bluebell stiffened. “That’s a knight’s ransom in ice cream—a full week’s production from the dairy!”

The tinker shrugged. “Sir, my methods require much risk. If you’d rather handle it yourself, that’s fine. But the dragon may keep your cows off their feed, and when cows aren’t eating, they don’t make milk.” 

The elder looked towards the knight, his concern for the cows evident. The knight grumbled. “This is highway robbery!” He sighed. “The guards will get you what you need.”

*****

The tinker set up at the edge of a nearby lake, spitting a slaughtered sheep it over the fire. He took off his pack, and set aside his shovel. A slight line of black smoke crept skyward. The tinker looked towards the clouds, fluffy loaves of bread obscuring the sky,  and frowned. The dragon’s head appeared through the clouds. It descended and began feasting  on the sheep. The tinker picked the shovel from the ground, and filled it with water from the lake, then slung the water into the dragon’s face. Steam rose from the dragon’s scales as the dragon flinched. The tinker hurriedly filled his shovel again, and flung the water straight into the dragon’s eyes. The dragon hissed, then fled, spouting flames into the air as it repeatedly shook its head.

*****

As the tinker prepared to leave, his cart filled with his delicious reward, the elder came scurrying up. “Why would the dragon fear being covered in water?”

The tinker laughed. “Dragons die if their fires are extinguished.. Besides, what creature likes getting water flung into its’ eyes?”

The tinker departed, heading past the boundary of the Knight’s holdings. He turned off the road, heading toward a strange, black hill in an empty pasture. The hill blinked at the tinkerer. “Took you long enough,” the dragon mumbled to his accomplice. “And why did you have to spray me directly in the eyes?”

The tinker grimaced back at the dragon. “They wouldn’t believe it unless you made it obvious, which you wouldn’t do. I knew you’d react regularly to that.”

The dragon changed the subject. “Enough about business, let’s get down to dessert. Did they give you any Rocky Road?”

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