The Iron Writer Challenge #4


The Iron Writer Challenge #4

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #4

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Rick SheltonCynthia CollinsJackie JonesGenevieve Dewey

The Elements:

A giraffe

A microwave

An elevator

A kumquat

Fen’s Safari

Jackie Jones

Fen wrinkled her nose in disgust. Her brother Darco had lied, giraffe meat was not tasty and coated her tongue with a bitter aftertaste each time she swallowed. This wasn’t the time to complain though, they’d had nothing but dried kumquats and nuts for days and the promise of meat, any kind of meat, had been welcomed by the people.

She looked around at the contented faces, wondering how they could continue to pretend that this cave, the only light a burning fire and nothing to sleep on but assorted leaves and twigs, could somehow be a new home. Fen, her brother, and the Arubi tribe, had been on the run for months trying to evade the men, who weren’t really men, that had come from the sky. They’d come with no warning or mercy, their aim to destroy everything.

When it had started, Fen had been in Africa with her family on safari. The clouds had been the first to change, slowly discarding their pristine white, for a darker, more ominous appearance. Their tour guide had assured them it was merely bad weather coming, but he’d been wrong. Just an hour later, the sky had seemingly opened up and from it, came these metal contraptions that none of them had ever seen.

Fen remembered her first foolish thought — silver, oversized microwaves, falling towards the ground at incredible speed. This thought had lasted mere half seconds and had given way to the screaming, blood and death that was all around her as they were hunted.

“The chief wants to see you,” Darco broke her reverie. She looked up at him, his dark eyes clouded with sadness, as they had been since losing their parents. Despite this, she liked looking at him; he’d always been the splitting image of their father. She nodded, standing and making her way further into the cave, to Chief Yudan’s quarters.

Fen bowed respectfully as she entered, a gesture that in the early days, she’d learnt was always expected. The chief, bedecked in bone jewellery that hung from his neck and wrists, motioned her to sit. His painted face told stories that Fen would never know and she stared, intrigued as always.

He pointed at a wooden bowl of more giraffe meat and Fen tried her best not to grimace. The tribe had taken her and Darco in when they didn’t have to, and had showed them great kindness since then. She had no intention of offending the Arubi’s leader over culinary dislikes. She made an action with her hands against her stomach, explaining without words, that she was already full. The chief nodded approvingly.

He pointed upwards now, then pulled his bone dagger from its sheath at his side. Fen jumped momentarily, but was calmed as he jabbed the air viciously with the weapon. Fen understood what he meant, but didn’t see how he was going to do it, unless of course there was an elevator to the sky.

Soft As VelvetRick Shelton

Rick Shelton

Velvet Anderson hurried to arrange the little African carvings that dominated the breakfast table in the bright eat-in kitchen at the back of the suburban ranch she and her husband, Frank Anderson, had lived in for twenty-three years. The early morning sun cast long shadows from the palm plant and the grouping of three tall giraffe carvings Frank had purchased during a port call while he was in the Navy.  She could hear the groan of the wood floor as he came down the hall.

“I hope you got my breakfast ready, dumbass,” he growled as he crossed the squeaky floor toward his seat at the table.  The chair creaked when he sat.  His eyes never left Velvet’s face until he looked down to his plate, already set and arranged.

“What the hell is this shit?”  His eyes bulged.

“They’re kumquats, sweetheart. I think you’ll like ‘em.

“What kinda idiot are you? Kumquats? I’m not eatin’ this. I want bacon, you stupid cow! Now nuke me some in that there microwave before I shove that brainless head of yours into that ‘frigerator door! And close those damned blinds. Can’t you see that sun is blindin’ me?  Do something right for change. Jesus H.”

Standing between the large palm and the grouping of giraffe carvings, her hands clasped in front of her apron, Velvet stared out the window for a moment to soak in the morning sunlight—it was bright, and seemed to clarify her thoughts. “CLOSE ‘EM,” she heard him bellow. In an instant, she made a decision that she thought could not be avoided any longer.

Velvet sat still on the ottomon in front of the living room fireplace, and cradled the phone receiver to her ear with both hands. One softly cupped the mouthpiece. As she counted the rings coming from the other end, she pressed her eyes closed and soaked in the warmth from growing fire.

Finally, a click, and a woman’s gravelly voice through the earpiece. “What the hell are you calling me at work for, Vel? I’m kinda busy here, ya know!” In the background, Velvet could hear the screeching of machinery. Her sister’s voice nearly blended with the noise coming through the phone.

“Dixie? Where are you?” Her eyes darted around the room.

“I’m in a got-damned freight elevator with about a hundert pieces’a Sears shit to unload. Now tell me whatcha want before I hang up.”

“I need your help, Dix. Can you come over? Now?”

“What? No. What the hell? I’m workin’, Vel. What’s so important?”

“You have to, Sis. You’re the only one. I can’t do this alone.”

“Velvet? What are you saying?”

“I need you, Dix. I killed him, and now I need you.”

The squeaks and growns of the freight elevator stopped, and her sister’s voice soon broke the resulting silence. “Well, okay. I’ll be right there. Just stay put.”

While she waited for her sister, Velvet stared motionlessly at the broken and bloody pieces of the middle-sized giraffe carving as they burned. The set looks better with two, anyway, she thought.

The Kumquat QuandaryCynthia Collins

Cynthia Collins

Beep, beep, beep. Sally, still half asleep, fumbled around to shut off her alarm. At last, quiet. She’d get up pretty soon. Beep, beep. She slapped her hand on the off button and sat on the edge of the bed.

 “All right! I heard you. I’m up.”

She showered and dressed, changed clothes at least three times before deciding on pants and a sweater that were casual enough for her interview at the zoo, but not so casual as to give the impression that she didn’t care if she got the job or not. She put a frozen breakfast sandwich in the microwave, pushed start, and poured some orange juice. After she finished eating, she checked the papers she was supposed to take with her.

“Let’s see,” she said talking to herself, “I’ve got my resume and letters of reference.” She looked one more time to make sure. “I guess I’m ready.”

She locked the door of her apartment and got on the elevator. Once on the ground floor, she rushed outside and hailed a taxi. She arrived at the zoo in plenty of time. In fact, she was an hour early so she stopped at a fruit stand and bought a bag of kumquats. A sign said Giraffes – straight ahead. Good. She liked giraffes. Their big, brown eyes and long eyelashes made them look so understanding.

A man wearing a uniform that looked official was busy refilling a feed dispenser. She asked if it was all right to stand there.

“Sure, help yourself. I’ve got to get these refilled before all the school kids get here. They love to feed the giraffes. Well, you have a nice day.” He nodded and went on his way.

Sally reached in the bag, pulled out a kumquat, and ate it. One of the giraffes looked at her. He took a few steps forward, his eyes focused on her. She got another kumquat and ate that one. The giraffe took a few more steps. After the third time, he was bending over the fence and his face was practically in the bag. She put a kumquat in the palm of her hand and let him eat it. As soon as he tasted it he spit it out, turned around, and walked away from her.

“Well, so much for that.” She tossed the bag in the trash and walked to her job interview.

The next day, she went back to the zoo and stopped to see the giraffes. “I just wanted you to know that I got a job here so you’ll be seeing me a lot.”

She had kumquats with her but they were in a bag stuffed in her jacket. The same giraffe from the previous day approached her again. His long neck lowered until his eyes were even with hers. He sniffed and nuzzled her pocket. She laughed. “You don’t like these, remember?” She patted him and said, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Waiting For GiraffeGenevieve Dewey Heaston

Genevieve Dewey

Sal nodded at the pleasantly dumpy, middle-aged woman he passed in the corridor to the break room. She never met his eyes; people in these cubicle farms never did, which is what made it perfect for drop offs. A quick scan of the room told him all was clear so he headed straight for the microwave and opened the door.


Sal picked the microwave up and saw a note taped with duct tape to the bottom.

Elevator. 2pm. Giraffe. 50 pizzas. PERSONAL DELIVERY

He gave himself time for two read-throughs then took out his lighter and burned it. Fifty, he thought to himself. Boss must want this real bad. The all caps and underline were pretty redundant after that. He stopped at the door of the room. Which elevator? Here? He looked at his watch. Fifteen shy of two. He rode each of the elevators in the building once, and was going to wait in the first one when a wiry, twitchy and tall man with orange-brown hair entered it. As soon as the doors shut the man spoke.

“I like anchovies on my pizza.”

“And kumquats for dessert,” Sal answered, his shoulders relaxing a bit in relief.

The man nodded, took out a tiny orange from his pocket and waved it a bit before putting it back in. He shook his head in disgust as he stopped the elevator. “You know, not for nothing, but I wish the Boss would think of somethin’ else. Kumquats ain’t dessert, they’re fruit. More like a side dish, ya know? And you know how hard it is to find a kumquat in the Midwest?”

Sal raised his eyebrows but said nothing.

“I’m Giraffe,” the man continued.


“Real name’s Bryce, but who’s gonna take a guy named Bryce seriously when he comes collecting? So I started calling myself the Giraffe.”

“They take Giraffe seriously?”

Giraffe shrugged. “I’m known for my second story jewel heists. Seemed fitting.”

“Everyone calls me Sally. They take me seriously.”

“Sure, and why not? Two seconds later they’re dead, ain’t they?”

“What’s your orders?” Sal asked. His eyelid was twitching in irritation from the babbling.

“I get you in the Zoo, you steal the animal, and we both deliver the head to the Boss.”

“The head?”

“Yeah, like in The Godfather.”

“Except the horsehead was a warning. Why would the Boss threaten himself?”

“You ask a lot of questions, Sally. I’m in too much Dutch with the Boss to say nothin’. He says pick your nose and stand on one foot, and I’m diggin’ for gold. Know wha’m sayin’? This is my last chance.”

Sal stared at him. In Dutch with the boss, huh? He thought. “What animal?”

“He didn’t say. Said he’d tell you which one.”

Sal stared ahead at the blinking warning light. “How’d you piss him off?”

“Slept wit’ his daughter.”

Sal grunted, slapped the stop elevator button and patted Giraffe on the shoulder as the doors opened.

The Iron Writer Challenge #3


The Iron Writer Challenge #3

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #3

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements 

The Authors:

E. Chris GarrisonJeffrey BoldenDiane Major 

The Elements:

A failed superhero

A piano

A boat propeller

A Chechem/Chaka tree

Ferrum-man, a SuperheroDiane Major

Diane Major

Superhero Brian Rogers, more reputably known as Ferrum-man, sat with his head in his hands. What on Earth was he going to do now?

Ferrum-man tried to help Batman in Gotham City, and now it was in disarray. Apparently, soon afterwards, Bruce Wayne took a holiday. Ferrum-man’s more recent exploits in Metropolis fared no better. During a clash with the Joker, he had accidently destroyed a piano, in fact Clark Kent’s grand piano. As for Superman, he left without saying a word. Things simply went from bad to worse.

 After some deliberation, Ferrum-man assessed he was a hopeless superhero. It was time to make his escape. The embarrassing affairs in both cities had sealed a failed superhero’s fate.  Dressed as author, Brian Rogers, theironwriter, he drove to the harbour and bought a small boat.

Once purchased, the boat sailed from Metropolis with Brian looking bleak. He was leaving his beloved America to build a new life in foreign parts. Perhaps starting a career in Mexico was some sort of a plan. In Mexico he could start again as a regular man.

When Mexico’s shores came into sight, the boat came to a sudden stop. Now our Brian had never been one for swimming, but this problem had to be resolved. It was time for Ferrum-man to tackle the dreadful task. Brian immediately did three quick jumps and appeared in his metal tone, skin tight, spandex tights.

After several deep breaths, our reluctant superhero dived into the sea. Once underwater, it was soon clear that a boat propeller was clogged with debris. Ferrum-man was quick to grasp the propeller and it immediately dropped off in his hands. To his horror, a great, gaping hole appeared in the hull. Our ‘superhero’ left the sinking boat and swiftly swam for shore.

On reaching dry land, the superhero took three jumps and was instantly dressed like a regular man. Disgruntled, Brian walked towards the distant green land. The sun beat down and the day was sizzling hot. It wasn’t long before Brian slumped down in the shade, under a tree, and decided it was time for a nap.  It was mid-afternoon when he woke up and scratched. This ‘superhero’ discovered he had a dastardly rash.

Brian looked at the rash and moaned, “No more, I can’t take any more!”

Unexpectedly, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent appeared.

Bruce said to Brian, “Look at that goddam awful rash!”

“Don’t worry Brian, it must be some sap from this Chechem tree that’s irritated your skin,” said Clark, who quickly took nectar from a nearby Chaka tree and rubbed it onto the rash.

Three jumps and Ferrum-man appeared in his tights.

In a flash, he squashed the two trees together and cried, “Look it’s a Chechem Chaka Tree!”

Clark, looked from Brian to Bruce, then sighed, “Oh well, our holidays are over, let’s get back to solving crime.”

Brian smiled, “Does that mean I’m still a superhero?”

Bruce shrugged, “Humph. Yip we’ll watch your back.”

JekyllJeff Bolden

Jeffrey Bolden

Like the Legend of the Chechen and Chaka Trees of Malaysia, Jekyll too held the power of life and death in his hands. As he gave life to the ivory keys of his piano, a memory began to haunt him, just as it had done in the long procession of days that followed his downfall from being the world’s greatest superhero.
It was at a banquet on a cruise ship that rivaled the Titanic, Jekyll and his fiancée danced to the ambient melody of Hiatus Kaiyote as the President of the United States offered his many thanks to Jekyll for saving his daughters. With the beautiful women standing in front of him, dazzling smiles splashed across their mocha expressions, Jekyll, his confidence just as tailored as his black suit, nodded back with his smile tight on his face, the beauty of another preoccupying his thoughts.
He went to find his fiancée on the upper deck of the large ship. His eyes scouring through the massive crowds, he ventured through the excitement, smiled politely at the congratulatory statements and the numerous pats on the back before he found her, an angel without wings standing by the rail, the sunset sky admiring her beauty in that twinkling black gown that accentuated her perfect curves and exotic tan. Simply by being, she intensified the beauty of the cascading sun. That is until, a large groan escaped the ship and the large ship jerked back as a sign of engine failure, sending her careening to the ocean below. He heard the screams and the pleas from the politicians and their whores begging for a savior. But a savior was not present. Only a man ran through the crowd, a man with tears in his eyes watching the love of his life descend rapidly to the ocean. That same man leapt off of the brass railing with two choices swirling in his mind. He had a decision to make.
As her swam through the darkness below, he saw the reason for the ship’s sudden failure. The main propeller had malfunctioned and Jekyll knew with one touch of his Hand of Chaka, he could bring the propeller to life again, but with the boat and his fiancée sinking at rapid rates, he knew he could only save one. He had a decision to make.
“Jackie?” The melody from the piano stopped as he turned his head toward the source of that soft voice. With waters glazing over his dark eyes, he stood up tall and regal, looking down into the face of the one he had given up everything for. “Someone here misses her daddy.” The baby cooing in her mother’s arms reached out toward Jekyll as tears of joy escaped from the lining of his eyes, again, reminded that he would let that cruise ship sink, let those passengers die, withstand the public fury for the death of the First Family for the family in front of him now. The one that was not supposed to exist.
He walked to and held out his hands to cradle their child before his lips found his wife and his arms found his daughter. As their lips locked in ecstasy and his daughter cooed in his arms, he no longer cared her was a failed superhero, because in the end he was a successful husband. Had he not been that, he would have never had the joy of being a successful father.

Killer CureChrissy Garrison

E. Chris Garrison

When Towering Rage walked into my bar, I knew there’d be trouble. I poured drinks at T.G.I. Heroes! for the regulars: Wire Hanger, Sticky Fingers and of course the Amazing Pieman. Fingers tickled the ivories, coaxing out “Stand By Me”. Only if you know Fingers, nobody’d do that on purpose.

Rage ducked under the motorboat hanging from the ceiling, swept back his cape, and plunked down his old-school red-tights-wearing butt on a barstool. One eye on the door.

“What’s your poison?” I purred, giving him a wink. He looked like he could use one.

He looked me up and down and sighed “Scotch. Rocks. Double.” I may not be Foxy Lightning, but I’m not chopped liver, either. Rage needed more than a wink, so I slid some scotch his way.

Just then, his blue ox of a brother Thunderbull burst in and shouted, “Thought I told you to get outta town, loser!”

My bouncer, Mistress Beast, tried to stop him. Brute that she is, he flicked her aside.

I was right. Trouble.

Rage stared into the glass I’d placed before him. His lips moved as he counted to ten.

“Get out of my bar!” I shouted, trying to avoid another insurance claim. “You know the rules. No fighting.”

Thunderbull grinned and pushed forward. He knocked the Pieman into Hanger, and both of them fell into a heap with Doctor Whiplash.

Towering Rage pushed his scotch away. Veins stuck out on his neck. His face matched his tights. His barstool hit the floor as he stood. “Leave me be. I gotta right to be here.”

Thunderbull lifted the piano and hurled it at Rage, knocking him back into my reinforced bar. Heroes and sidekicks scattered, fleeing the cacophony and debris. “I whupped you good, you failure. Get out!”

Towering Rage rose from the wreckage, piano wire twanging as he grew in size and fury. He knocked the motorboat from its hooks, snapped the propeller off the outboard motor and threw it spinning at his brother.

Thunderbull ducked.

Mistress Beast stood up behind him.

The propeller cut her beautiful head from her apelike body. She fell to the floor, dead.

Thunderbull roared with laughter, stepped over the body, and left.

Towering Rage wilted, broken once again.

“Don’t let him win,” I said, coming around the bar, near him.

“Everything I do is like poison from the Chechen tree,” he said, eyes on Mistress Beast’s bloody head.

“Then let me be your Chaca balm,” I said, touching him on the forearm, which was about as high as I could reach.

At my touch, time rewound to when Thunderbull entered.

Before the ox could get out a single word, Rage ignored the boat, calmly crossed the room, and punched his brother out the door, into orbit.

Mistress Beast, alive again, looked at me, confused. I shrugged and smiled.

Towering Rage gaped at me. “How… who are you?”

“My name’s Tap Back. Want that scotch now?”

He grinned. “You bet. Thanks!”

I winked. “Any time.”

The Iron Writer Challenge #2

ruby red slippers

The Iron Writer Challenge #2

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #2

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Kriss MortonJim WrightClive EatonSusan Hawthorne

The Elements:

Ruby Red Slippers

A Tucker Turret

A Russian Olive Tree

A Mermaid

The TherapistClive Eaton 1

Clive Eaton

The B-17 Flying Fortress was a sitting duck. Two engines were ablaze, and gunner Charlie Jackson, staring through a hole in the shattered glass of his Tucker Turret, froze as an ME109 swooped in for the final kill. Just as the German pilot was about to open fire, Charlie sat bolt upright in bed, with perspiration oozing from every pore in his body. When would this continuously repeated nightmare end? It was 2012, and he was only 39 years old. Far too young to have been involved in World War Two.

He clambered out of bed, and headed towards the en-suite for a shower. He was due to see a therapist at 9.20am, and didn’t want to be late. A movement in the corner of his eye distracted him. He peered out of his bedroom window and observed a squirrel, scurrying across the lawn, with what looked like the fruit seized from a large, nearby, Russian olive tree. He considered the simplicity of the squirrel’s life, which was clearly hoarding food for the harsh winter months, and wished his could be as straightforward.

Charlie arrived at his therapist’s office five minutes early. He shuffled through the out-of-date magazines in the waiting area, but nothing grabbed his attention. He just wanted one night’s sleep without the sound of gunfire. The receptionist’s phone rang, and she quickly answered it.

She then looked across at Charlie and said ‘Doctor Mea will see you now.’

Thirty seconds later Charlie was outside a door with a sign announcing the occupant –  ‘Dr I. M. Mea’. He knocked.

‘Come in’. The voice was female. It only then occurred to him he hadn’t even asked anything about this particular therapist when he made the appointment. He opened the door and entered the room. It was very spartan with regard to furniture, but Doctor Mea made up for that in abundance. She was Oriental in appearance, and was wearing a brightly coloured kimono and ruby red slippers.

‘Please Charlie, come in and take a seat. I can call you Charlie, can I?’

Charlie nodded, and sat in the seat he was shown.

‘So what brings you to see me? The notes given to me by my receptionist suggest you are having problems with a dream.’

Charlie shook his head. ‘Not a dream doctor, a nightmare. It starts with me being told, as I climb aboard a Second World War aircraft, that the dream will continue every night until I kiss a mermaid on the lips. How am I supposed to do that? Mermaids don’t exist.’

Charlie’s new therapist burst out laughing, walked across to him, and kissed him on the lips. He recoiled in shock. ‘What are you doing woman?’

‘Curing you of your nightmare. You are now cured Charlie. Jackie on reception will take your payment.’

Charlie was speechless, left the room and glanced at the sign on the door one more time. ‘Dr I. M. Mea.’ It was an anagram, and that night he slept soundly.

Childhood’s TransitionSusan in Cozumel

Susan Hawthorne

The sun’s position told Jacob he’d better hurry home. If he was late, his mother would scold him: “Tardiness is disrespect”.

He left the shade of the Russian olive trees. His grandfather had planted them for erosion control. They could grow where no other tree would, but now the government said they were a nuisance. His father pondered on taking them down, but Jacob hoped he wouldn’t. He loved their stark determination, the fragrant flowers in spring and even the long prickly thorns.

As he neared the house, he noticed Gabe’s car in the drive and ran into the kitchen.  “Gabe, what’re you doing home now? You aren’t supposed to be here til Saturday…”

His joy turned to dust as he saw his mother clutching his brother with tears running down her face.

He stopped in the doorway, his chest still hitching for breath.

His mother turned her head away. Gabe motioned to come sit at the table, but Jacob couldn’t make his feet move.

“Jacob, Dad’s in the hospital.”

“No, he’s not! He drove to work this morning, I saw him.”

“I know, but after he got to work he had a heart attack. They called an ambulance for him.”

Jacob walked to the table and ran his fingers over the oiled red and white cloth. “We should go see him, then.”

Gabe knelt beside him. “We can’t right now, Jacob. They’ve taken him to surgery. The doctor said we should wait here until they call. It’ll be awhile”
His mother dropped into the chair on the opposite side of the table and Jacob took a step back.

The scent of bread and coffee made his stomach clench. It smelled too normal, like an ordinary day. Jacob ran to his room and shut the door, trying to catch his breath.

He opened the closet door and pulled the cardboard box out of the darkness.

He lifted out the replica of the B-29 bomber with the bubbled Tucker Turret. His Dad gave that to him. He loved pretending to sit in that bubble with the whole world spread out beneath him.

Next he found the animal figures. There were all the jungle and desert animals, many creatures from beneath the sea and a mermaid. He had wondered about the mermaid. All the other animals were real but not mermaids. His Dad said they may not be real, but the spirit of the mermaid mattered. She represented all the dreams and wishes of children all across the world.

Last there were the ruby red slippers. They had all gone to see The Wizard of Oz about three years ago and there were souvenirs for sale. Everyone thought he’d ask for a flying monkey or a Toto figure, but he wanted the ruby red slippers. He knew he only had to slip them on, click his heels together, and he would be home, safe and happy.

He clutched them in his hand and shook his head. Then stood and dropped them in the trashcan beside his bed.

Just one more Drink, Dorothykrissnewhair

Kriss Morton

She woke in a daze on the couch just as dozens of grasping hands reached up from a riverbank attempting to drag her back under the flowing water. The pages of her dog eared copy of Dante sticking to her face, her heart still racing and her mind focused on the horrors still clutching at her from her dream. Rising she tripped over her blood red bedazzled party shoes. Last night her date called them her ruby red slippers, she even clicked her heels three times to give him the hint it was time to go home. Instead he smiled down at her, winking as he encouraged one more drink.

The fire must have burnt out sometime last night; even with spring on the horizon the air was chilled causing her to draw her ratty sweater closer around her aching body. She shook her head to rid herself of the memory the pain provoked bringing her heart to a slower tempo. Only to have it rise as shadows from the underworld crept from behind the cold wood stove. Obviously The Divina Commedia tainted her dreams more than she realized. A ribbon of dream forced its way to the surface. She could feel the claws sink into her leg again, the demonic mermaid, a replica of one from Fontana di Nettuno, dragging her back under the water to more darkness. The memory of stone breasts shooting burning blood instead of water, coating her face slick as a pain-filled scream threatened to vomit forth. This was not what she usually dreamt after reading from the cantos, but after the evening she experienced, what did she expect. Maybe she should have read the boring military historical her father had lent her.

“Oh yes!”, she thought as a smile teased the corners of her mouth. Learning about the different types of turrets used during WWII would probably have been smarter. But with her luck she would have dreamt being gunned down by a rusting Tucker Turrett as she ran through thorn ridden branches. She shook her head in an attempt to clear the fog from her living nightmare, but nothing was stopping the real horrors from breaking through and her heart began to race again.

The kettle started screaming causing her to start; knocking over the cup already prepared, two spoons of brown sugar and splash of cream coated her bruised legs. She let herself wake up to reality, her body sinking on top of the torn gown. Thorns from the Russian Olive Trees which surrounded the property line grabbing onto her legs tearing into her skin, again. Perhaps Dante was not to blame. A single tear ran down her cheek, maybe she should have let the mermaid take her. Staying in the underworld to terrorize others was a better alternative to what she must do this morning. Blood from the fresh gouges ran through the maze of those from where he had pushed her against the tree. Her legs forced apart leaving her unable to click her heels to take her home.

Breaking NewsJim2013-0216

Jim Wright

The little souvenir shop just outside Truth or Consequences, New Mexico was crowded today. Summer vacations were well underway. Dolores Delgado presided over the pandemonium with grace and a perpetual smile, masking discomfort. The little cut-rate bazaar was stocked to the rafters with snow globes, mounted jackalope heads and of course, Elvis memorabilia; the kind of trinkets that attract a certain type of discerning shopper.

Out back of the shop high walls surround a small grove of Russian olive trees. The dense foliage give shade and sanctuary to Dolores and her three sisters to lounge, after hours, in a cluster of small jacuzzis, made from inverted Tucker turrets.

In one corner, Dolores has installed a small museum to honor The Wizard of Oz. Hundreds of replica items are on display. Strains of the movie soundtrack are played throughout the store from opening to closing, and a slideshow of scenes from the movie shows on a screen above the glass case holding Dorothy’s dress, hand basket and ruby red slippers.

Every afternoon, just after one, Francis Fyte appears with lunch for Dolores and her sisters. Francis operates a small diner a mile or two down the road and has carried a torch for Dolores since he first saw her nearly ten years before.

“Hey, Francis! How ya doin’?”  Every morning he swears to himself he will declare his love for her, and every afternoon her tinkling voice and warm smile chase away his courage.  Today will be different, he thinks to himself. Today I have a special gift.

“H-h-here’s your lunch Dolores…” is about all he can manage. He sets about arranging the dishes on the counter, not daring to look her in the eye. He wonders again why she will only eat at the counter. There are rarely any customers at this time of day. Why won’t she sit at the little dining area so they can chat? Maybe she uses the counter as a buffer to avoid any kind of intimacy? No matter, today’s the day and nothing will stop him… he hopes.

He sips his coffee and watches Dolores attack the shrimp with enthusiasm. Between bites she tells him stories of her childhood without ever actually telling him where she’s from.

For what seems like the millionth time, his eyes travel over what he can see of Dolores. Her wild hair with a greenish tint that never seems to stop moving, eyes as green and bright as emeralds and… her ample heaving bosom.

Casting all doubt firmly from his mind, he gathers his courage and stands as tall as his small frame will allow and declares “Dolores, I’ve brought you a present! I can’t wait another minute to see you wear it. With that he rushed around the end of the counter as he reaches into the bag he carried, taking out a pair of ruby red slippers he had made for her.

He dropped the shoes and fell away in a dead faint. Dolores is a mermaid!