The Iron Writer Challenge #200 – 2017 Summer Solstice Challenge #6

 The Iron Writer Challenge #200

 2017 Summer Solstice Challenge #6

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Dani J. Caile, Moira McArthur, Steven L. Bergeron, Bethany Totten, David Jobe

(Authors names will be posted to their stories next Thursday, after the voting is concluded.)

The Elements:

The Proclaimers: 500 Miles

A quest

Chocolate

The Evil twin

The Power of His Words

Steven L. Bergeron

Father Anthony Clousonetti scientologist, criminologist, he loved a good adventure about as much as spreading the good news. Christianity had been the rock which held St-Peters Christian United together. How can a simple chocolate covered Grail make such an impact?

His new adventure took us deep into the village of Baschurch England, the resting place of King Arthur. We must have walked 500 miles if not a thousand, Father Anthony’s philosophy remained in completion of our quest we shall be closer to God. As the proclaimers sang “we may walk 500 miles, but in the end, we will come back to you.”

The Grail as we know it, might be only a symbol, but being in the hands of my brother Joseph, that could only spell trouble. I was two minutes older than Joseph, and generally I can predict his every move. But since our Father’s death, it would seem that Joseph had ultimately followed in our father’s evil ways.

We where all pooped, dry and out of shape once we reached the end of the village. Smoke coming from a lonely hut indicated warmth, and quite possibly food. As we approached the door there he stood. He was dressed in black, with that evil grim in his face, he simply looked at me.

“Come in brother I been expecting you. I see you brought your entourage. Well hello Father Anthony. It’s been a while.”

“Cut it with the chitter chatter brother, you know why we are here. What have you done with it?”

“Whatever are you talking about.”

“The chocolate Grail, we know you have it.”

“Are you accusing me of stealing your precious cup. That is something our father would do” Joseph attention now turned towards Father Anthony.

“Father I’m surprised you of all people, would condone there thinking”

“I’m simply going with whatever your brother told me.”

“Enough of this Joseph what have you done with it?”

“Know, know brother relax, it is in it’s proper location. I buried it next to King Arthurs tomb. That is right I have put the power of the cup to rest, along with your precious Christianity.”

“See Father I told you he was evil.”  The look that Father Anthony gave me was one I have never seen before.

“You are so wrong Micheal, you see I gave your brother the Grail, and instructed him to bury it next to King Arthur.”

“You did what. You led me to believe my brother was that evil?”

“It was all part of my plan. Your brother could not do this on his own. I led you on your quest make sure you arrived safely to learn the truth. You see you all where so much involved with the Grail you believe it over powered Christianity. Which is wrong, for all that I been teaching you, your brother is the only one who believed the real power of Christianity. You see the Grail is simply a symbol, but Christianity is so much more.”

Charlie’s (an) Angel

Dani J. Caile

“But I will walk five hundred miles..!” screamed Charlie my twin as I pushed him down the dirt road in the only wheelchair we could find at the village we passed through three days ago.

“Charlie, you’re not walking though, are you?” I said, and regretted it instantly.

“There you go! Moaning about how you need to push me in this wheelchair! I twisted my ankle on that rock! I’m the one who needs to suffer constant agony! And I’m the one who has terminal cancer!” shouted Charlie for all the vultures to hear as the sun beat down on our heads. I stopped pushing and looked around for any sign of life. A strange sound made me turn back to Charlie.

“What was that?” I asked, noticing something which looked like a wrapper in his hand.

“What?” said Charlie with his mouth full. He hid the offending item into his pocket.

“That… that was a chocolate bar, wasn’t it? You said all we have left are a few slices of bread and some milk!”

“I need to stay alive, Craig! I need to finish my Bucket List before I die! How can you be so self-absorbed? I’m going to die, Craig! Die!” I shook my head and continued on pushing him along the road. This quest to ‘find himself’ before he ‘moved on’ was beginning to take its toll on me. I felt so tired. An urge appeared below and I had to go.

“I have to go.”

“What, here?”

“Over that ridge. I’ll be back in a minute,” I said, running up the slope and down the other side. There was a half-dead bush to pee on at the bottom.

“Don’t take too long! Those vultures look hungry! And you never know who’s driving down this road! Bandits, murderers, rapists!”

Rapists? As I finished off, my phone beeped. A signal? Since leaving civilization behind our phones hadn’t worked properly in days. Maybe there was a tower nearby. Fifty four emails, seven messages…wow… the messages were all from Janice at the company. The last one had a link to a news item. I clicked it. With only five percent on the battery, I slowly made my way back to Charlie. When I looked up from the page, shocked by the news, I saw Charlie standing by the wheelchair, having a cigarette.

“What the…! You can stand?”

“Oh! It’s a miracle! My ankle feels much better!” said Charlie, dropping his cigarette into the road. I held up my phone so that he could see it.

“Now I get it. What do you take me for?” Charlie squinted into the screen and smiled.

“A fool. As always,” he said, laughing.

“You bought me out,” I said, not believing my own words.

“Yep. I had to. You weren’t dying quick enough, so I had to spend a little money to get that deal of a lifetime from Havers.” He was evil, pure evil…dying?

“Die…dying?”

“I swapped the files at the hospital. You’re the one with cancer, Craig.”

My head began to spin and I sat down as he continued to laugh. I didn’t feel well…

If I Could Just Get a Minute 

Moira McArthur

I pick up my pen and start to write.

‘There’s an old mulberry tree in the grounds of the Abbey that I walk around three times widdershins.

An old chap sitting on a bench. He nods as I pass. Knowing the significance. High summer is when the mulberries fall. Ripe, fat and squashy.’

The door crashes open and a wet and dripping leather arm is waved in at me, then as quickly goes away. “It’s raining”, says husband from the hallway. “Hanging up my jacket.”

He comes in. “Not many at Ian’s retiral do tomorrow night, but enough there for the afternoon tea. ” He puts on the television. I start again, lifting my pen. “Just as well I had lunch before I went. Catering was awful. Tiny wee cakes.” He lapses into silence again, watching the tv. I wait..but that seems to be it.

This is like a quest. Can I finish writing before any more interruptions come my way? Told I had three hours in which to write, said goodbye to family and came home. Stuck at the newly erected traffic lights for the bit of road they keep digging up. Something to do with building of the new school on the opposite side of the road, no doubt. Lights changed and we were off again. All five metres before the bus stop. We waited in our single lane as the bus squeaked to a halt to let someone alight. Off again, we gained the roundabout. I turned left and joined the inexorable queue up the Main Street. I can see my house, clear as day off the other side of the dual carriage way. Just can’t get to it without the u-turn coming up. Around the island, wait and wait for a gap in the traffic coming down. Thank goodness this car is nippy. Judge and get round, indicator on right away and turn into my Street. Figure if other half is using Over 60s rail pass then won’t be home until after 6.

Alas and alack. Got a lift back from other side of the city to the Main Street. Torrential rain greeted him on exit from the car. Couple of hundred yards to home and he was drenched. Anyway, where was I..

“That’s some hill up to the department. Quite forgotten how steep. From the station too. Adds another hill.” I nod my head. Silence as he turns again to the television…

“Did I say the catering was bad? Should’ve gone to Costco. Got the lot. Maybe they had to go in-house though. Sorry, am I keeping you from something? You’re looking upset. Not your usual chirpy self.” I indicate the notepad and the list of elements. “Can I take you somewhere for a coffee, some dinner, cheer you up?” I give a sigh. Dang it, I’ll never finish at this rate. Interruptions. The Evil Twin of writing assignments.

Gathering my bag, I say ok, let’s go. Step into the car. Engine starts and my phone Bluetooths into life. “If I could walk 500 miles..”  Singing, we drive in search of a coffee shop with wifi and chocolate.

Into Your Heart

Bethany Totten

Although the house was empty, the house creaked and moaned from not only age, but from the wind as well.  It seemed alive, eager to tell its story.

“Man, this place is creepy,” Harper commented more to herself then her companions as she walked through the downstairs, casually peering into the rooms.  “I can’t believe these people just up and left.”

“I know,” replied Daniel, her boyfriend as he wandered around.  “This place is huge.”

Harper walked up the stairs, her camera light guiding her way.  She rounded a corner into what appeared to be a bedroom.  The wallpaper was peeling away from the walls and a single chair with a doll sat in the corner.

Harper snapped a picture and Daniel’s voice broke her thoughts.

“Yeah?” she called out to him and went into the hallway.

Daniel stood at the base of the attic steps looking at her with an eerie look to his face.

Harper looked at him with an irked look.  “What?” she asked him again.

Daniel continued to look at her.  He then turned and silently walked up the stairs.  Harper rolled her eyes, sighed, and followed him up the stairs.  She was met by an empty room.

“Daniel?” she tentatively called out as she walked around the massive room.  Nothing, she was alone.

She frowned to herself and walked down the stairs.  She started to head down to the first floor and was met by Daniel and their friend Josh on the landing.  Harper stopped dead in her tracks.

“How did you get down here so fast?” she asked him.

Daniel looked at her in confusion.  “What are you talking about?  I’ve been downstairs the whole time.”

“But, I just saw you walk up the attic steps,” Harper protested as she looked towards them in equal confusion.  “I swear I did.”

“He’s been with us the entire time,” Josh commented.

The three of them looked at each other in confusion as an eerie wail echoed down the hall.  The quickly ran out of the house to their car.  It was the last time they explored that particular place.

Mountain of the Dead God

David Jobe

Lore moved amongst the sprawling coca plants that would soon be turned into the delicious chocolate that made the Synti Tribe the richest traders in the south. Fields stretched from horizon to horizon, marred only by the lonely mountain that stood amidst their crops. Shaped like an inhuman skull with jutting horns that now haloed the setting sun, The Dead God Mountain would be the final destination on this long quest. Lore bundled tight her wolf-skin fur, making sure that it hid the markings of her tribe. While they were not at war with the Synti, they would find the mystery of her being so far from her lands reason enough to detain her. Five hundred miles as the crow flies is further than even the most brazen hunter might venture.  Lore had to know if the myth of the Dead God was true. She would not rest until she climbed down its gaping maw and discovered if the doorway existed.

She hustled through the rows of plants toward the gullet of the mountain. Just as the horizon turned a murderous red, she slipped beyond a napping guard between two teeth that towered as high as trees, the space between just wide enough to allow her thin frame. Once beyond she found the steep decline that shifted from red clay dirt to some form of rock that gleamed in the torches that lined the walls. Her deerskin moccasins made faint whispers on the hard surface, her form making shadows dance across the smooth rock walls. Soon she began to notice that the torches became fewer, though the light grew brighter. The smooth rock appeared to have lines of blue lights running like veins across it. She found her fingers longing to brush the surface, but as she grew close, she could feel a hum in the air that made her fearful. Onward and downward she snuck, the walls were narrowing in around her. At the end of the throat of the mountain, she found herself standing before what looked like the smooth surface of a still lake, her reflection staring back at her, though the water’s surface was vertical.

“What dark magic is this?”

Her reflection smiled back, revealing pointed teeth that did not belong in her mouth.

Lore raised a hand to her mouth, fearful that she would find herself smiling and having gained sharpened teeth. Her mouth remained a frown.

“I come seeking the way.”

“The way,” her reflection whispered back.

“Enough. Reveal to me the truth!”

Her reflection remained still, though its eyes watched her hand with muted fascination. It was then that Lore noticed that its eyes held a darker hue, the iris near eclipsing the white of the eye. Then the reflection stepped from the waters, emerging to the sound of a thousand voices crying out in fear. The odor of decay and sulfur filled theair. Her evil doppelganger spoke in hushed and measured tones. “You were meant for great things. Now, that future is gone. I’ll show them all the way. The truth.” It reached for her, a cruel smile on its face.

Lore’s scream announced the Return.

The Iron Writer Challenge #199 – 2017 Summer Solstice Challenge #5

The Iron Writer Challenge #199

 2017 Summer Solstice Challenge #5

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Vance Rowe, Elaine Johnson, Emma Crowley and Bethany Totten, Bertram  Allan Mullin

(Authors names will be posted to their stories next Thursday, after the voting is concluded.)

The Elements:

Gov’t processed cheese.

Coffee Grounds

Ice cream

Wealth

Think It

Elaine Johnson

She dipped into her banana split, tapped the spoon so the hot fudge wouldn’t drip, flicked the tiniest bit of dazzling white whipped cream over the nuts, and paused with the spoon mid-air. “Did you know that the government issued cheese for those in need?”

He sniffed the coffee beans, nodded, set the machine to fine, and started the noise. After a moment, he dumped the grounds into the coffee maker and got the thing started. “You mean now or back in the day?”

“I’m sure they do it now, but in 1954,” she was quoting her cell phone, “government cheese was issued in a brown wrapper.”

He sat back from the granite counter in their new McMansion and studied the pool reflecting just inside their backyard, right next to the cabana and hot tub. “Cheese is cheese, if you get hungry enough.”

She finished the last of the delicacy and settled the glass container in the sink. The party would start in an hour or so, so she added some Brie and Gouda and Provolone to the groaning platter of fruits and muffins, and stuck in back in the cooler. “Hard to argue with that. It stinks to be poor.“

The coffee maker was just about done. He pulled his favorite mug, the one that said, “Wealth Starts Here”, added just the right amount of hazelnut flavoring, and moved back to his office. She hardly saw him anymore, and after this contract was signed, he had two more clients waiting.  She stared at the pristine granite counter, at the caterer scurrying around, and strolled through the place one more time to check that the decor matched the image she’d tried so hard to cultivate.

They went to that conference last year, the one that permeated all their plans. It was why they were in this house in this part of town.  “You have to imagine your goals if you want to achieve them.” That was one motto from the first speaker. “If you think it, you can have it” was another.  They needed to cultivate the Right Mindset, so the last speaker insisted.  So here they were, in a magnificent house with vaulted ceilings, far from their friends and family, but in the right side of town, with just the right decor. Their first party would be a magnificent celebration of what they were; of where they were going.  She’d eaten a minimal breakfast and lunch to splurge on that banana split so she’d be happy and sated during the party. She wasn’t sure who half the people were, but they certainly expected to eat well. She studied the groaning covered plates on the serving table. That website kept haunting her.  Imagine eating government issued cheese.  Imagine being that poor.  She shook her head.  What you think might come true. She needed to think prosperity and wealth. She studied the pristine golf course and smiled.  Just think it to make it happen.  Wealth was coming. She knew.

WARNING: THIS STORY HAS RACIAL SLURS AND OTHER “COLORFUL” LANGUAGE!

Monopoly in the Hood

Vance Rowe

“You ‘bout to be bankrupt Tariq,” Big T said to his friend with a laugh.

“She-e-e-e-t nigga, you talkin’ crazy. I’m gettin’ mines. I got dem houses on the BW, man.”

“Yeah but you fittin’ to lose that shit too though.”

“Big T, man, you smokin’ that rock? I’m ‘bout to get my wealth on. As soon as you niggas start landing on that shit, you all done. It will be back to eating dat gov’ment cheese for alla y’all. Yo Luke, roll the damn dice man. It’s your turn, nigga.”

Luke rolled. Landing on a Chance card spot, he picked it up and read it, “Advance token to…shit.”

“Yeah, bitch. I tol’ you. Put that shit right on thereon Boardwalk and gimme my fo’teen hunnit dollars.”

Luke counted out the money and handed it to Tariq and Tariq said, “Now Imma put a hotel on that bitch and alla y’all goin’ to pay me.”

“Tariq, dat’s about all da money you gots. You better not be blowing that cheddar so soon.”

“Yo Cheezy, tell your moms that and mind yo’ bidness. You goin’ to be turnin’ dat corner up there on your next roll and will be comin’ down here to pay me too. Only you will forking over 2 G’s when you do,” Tariq laughed and picked up the dice. He landed on the “Go to Jail” spot.

“Here are some words you will be getting’ used to, Tariq. Go to jail, bitch,” Big T said with a laugh.

“Yo T, you want me to say hi to your pops while I’m there?” Tariq laughed in reply.

The three boys laughed at Big T’s expense and he said, “Dat’s okay. You all goin’ to be bankrupt soon and will have to use dem old coffee grounds over and over.”

Big T’s grandmother called out to him and asked, “Tulane? Do you and your friends want some ice cream?”

The three other boys looked at each other and in unison asked, “Tulane?”

They laughed and T pointed at them with an angry look on his face. Then he shouted, “No Gramma. Nobody wants ice cream.”

“I want some ice cream,” Tariq said with a smile.

“Nigga shut up. We ain’t got no ice cream. Gramma’s a little crazy in her old age. And alla y’all keep on calling me T. If I hear my name being mentioned by any y’all, I will bust a cap in yo’ asses. You feel me? Now, someone roll the damn dice.”

“It’s your turn Tul…er…T,” Tariq said with a chuckle.

T growled a bit, picked up the dice and rolled them.

“Boardwalk, bitch. Pay me.” Tariq said with a laugh.

Angered by being picked on a little too much, Big T said, “Know what? Alla y’all niggas need to get up from my crib. Take ya narra asses home.”

T flipped the game board and stormed out of his room.

“Geez, what’s eatin’ him?” Luke asked.

“He’s mad because he lost his money and has to wait for the truck to deliver his gov’ment cheese now,” Tariq said.

The three boys laughed and left Big T’s house.

The Barrel

Emma Crowley

No one wanted to approach the barrel now. Instead they leave it alone in the center of the darkened bunker, watching with bated breath as a cloudy white liquid began to creep across the ground. My heart still pounds as I kneel next to Meecah. In the crowded room, he was the only one not watching the barrel; instead he stared down at his shaking fingers.

He had been the only person brave enough to approach the barrel after the search team had brought it underground. We had been waiting eagerly; every so often they’d return with arms full of food, but today, they dragged in a metal barrel, something that they had proudly stolen from a rebel convoy. The rest of the underground colony did not see the barrel as a sign of wealth as the search team did; to us it was nothing more than another three days of eating only government processed cheese. Nothing more than a disappointment

Until they opened it, that is.

Few brave souls dared to approach it after the lid was removed; Meecah one of them. He traded his swagger for cautions steps as he neared the barrel, hand pressed over his mouth and nose.

“It’s filled with white stuff,” his shout echoed around the packed bunker. Slowly he reaches a hand out over the open barrel, drawing a collective gasp from the room.

“Don’t touch it Meecah! It’s not worth it!”

Voices filled the air as Meecah’s hand begins to shake over the barrel. I pushed my way to the front of the crowd, getting a glimpse of the fear in his face. He lowered his hand into the barrel.

He let out a blood curdling scream as soon as his skin touched the white substance inside. Meecah dropped to the ground before me, letting out a wail as he curled his body around his hand. Screams echoed in my ears as the room erupts into chaos.

I force Meecah’s hand open and squint down at his shaking fingers.

“It burned me,” he whimpers, “I just brushed against it, and it burned me!”

I turn his hand over. His fingers are pristine. There’s no sign of a bruise, a burn, anything–

“What is going on here?” The whole room turns as Janice, the bunker’s oldest survivor, wanders into the room.

“Nothing, Janice, just a strange find from the search team,” I reach up to grab the sleeve of her nightdress, but somehow she slips away, leaving only the bitter scent of coffee grounds behind her.

Twist around, I stare into the crowd. Why is nobody stopping her?

A shout startles me, but it’s not full of pain–

Janice is laughing.

“It’s ice cream! I haven’t felt anything this cold in decades!” She scoops it from the barrel onto her shaking fingers. “Hurry, before it melts!”

Soon it’s my turn to scoop from the barrel, the feeling is incredible. The strange liquid fills my body with the most delightful chills.

Janice laughs as she watches us eat..

“One would think you have never been cold before!”

I glance at Meecah; as children of the apocalypse, we hadn’t.

Two Differences from Japan and America

Bertram Allan Mullin

Before moving to Japan, I noticed a problem with wealth in America. Not to say everyone’s rich. There were poor snobs. This created a big problem in the service industry: employees believed because they got paid little they could say whatever they wanted and get away with their behavior because rich owners were afraid to fire and get sued.

I had lived with my dad, who was sick with diabetes. He needed someone around. I’d spend several hours at night working on my novels and helping him. Sometimes I spent days without sleep. Often this would take me to Starbucks.

Better than sugary ice cream.

Obviously sleep wasn’t an option during the daytime because I had good ideas to be written and deleted during edits. Plus, there was no point in sleeping throughout the day.

An afternoon like any other, I walked into Starbucks nearby. The smell of the coffee grounds alone were enough to give me a slight jolt. Yet, I was pretty much a zombie to the world.

The girl at the counter asked for my order outright, not very welcoming.

No big deal.

Figured she was living off government processed cheese and whatnot. Decided to be nice and feigned my best smile to cheer her up, which was actually an exhausted line.

She grimaced. “What would you like to order, sir?”

“Caramel macchiato. Large.”

“Um, did you mean venti?” she asked with a judgmental undertone. I understood. Grande meant large and the former equaled twenty ounces in Italian. She likely assumed I didn’t see that movie too.

Venti.”

She sighed to imply I did something wrong. “Anything else, sir?”

“That’s all.” I could have said, “Thank you.”

Nope.

People should earn such words. I still felt bad for her. She had to deal with tired assholes such as myself all day and I’d bet worked a double-shift tonight. So I tossed my change in the tip jar.

While I walked out, she yelled, “Good luck with that attitude—” in Texas, the equivalent of: “Go fuck yourself.”

I almost turned, said something.

My decision was to leave with my beverage in hand, pretend to not hear. What bothered me most was I tipped. 

The situation could have ended there. Instead, the thought of whether to call her boss and district manager juggled in my mind for the day. My concern was the stuck up employee would speak this way to another customer. “Do you realize baristas like her hurt your business?” Had to be said.

To my reluctance the district manager convinced me to have them send two free drinks my way. I received a formal apology from the company. Gave the freebies to my dad before moving to Japan.

When I walked into a Starbucks there tired out of my mind, the cashier’s joyful smile makes me forget any of my troubles each time. Moreover, there’s usually a happy face, and “Thank you,” with a cute cartoon drawn on my cup. I love the customer service where I live now. Another difference is Japan uses real cheese, not government processed junk.

Trash

Bethany Totten

The house had certainly seen better days.  The paint was chipping and starting to peel, the shingles were starting to fall off the roof, and the plants were over grown and dying.

Of course the inside was far worse.  Piles of old newspapers and unwashed clothes were piled ceiling-high in nearly every room of the small three bedroom house, leaving only enough room for a tiny walkway throughout.  Old food wrappers, some several years old, take out containers, unopened mail, and various books and magazines dotted the area as well.  To be blunt, it looked like a landfill.  No sane person would ever dare go inside let alone live there.

Yet, it was someone’s home, least it had been.  The former inhabitant was now sadly deceased; years of smoking coupled with undiagnosed cancer had taken their toll and unfortunately caused their end.  While the death was expected, the details weren’t as easy to deal with.  The bulk of it was finished yet the worse remained, cleaning out the house.  The one thing the family was dreading.

“I can’t believe she lived like this,” Margo commented as she walked through the house followed by her husband Craig and her nephew, Daniel.

Craig grimly nodded in agreement.

The trio made their way into the kitchen.  Suddenly, the smell of rotting food hit them.  Margo and Craig covered their noses while Daniel hurried out of the house.  He sat down on the front steps and rested his head in his hands.  He was beside himself that his mother lived like that.  Hells, he was beside himself anyone could live like that.

He had hoped that his mother would have tried to get her hoard somewhat under control years ago when Daniel went to live with his aunt and uncle but she seemed to get worse, especially mentally.  She had started to get paranoid and was convinced she was being spied on by the government, first by them going through her garbage then with her food.

“I don’t want that darn government food,” Janet, Daniel’s mother, used to say.  “They spy on you with that processed cheese.  That’s how they know what you’re thinking.”
Daniel had been beside himself with what to do with her the last years of her life.  He had tried to get her house cleaned up somewhat before he went off to college but she fought him every step of the way.  He eventually gave up, secretly hoping she would do it on her own but she got sick before that happened and now, well, she was gone.

Margo came out and sat next to Daniel, placing her hand on his shoulder.  “You want to come back tomorrow and try again?” she asked.

Daniel shook his head.  “No, let’s just get it over with.”

He stood up and went back inside.  Before long, they had managed to get one room somewhat cleaned, throwing out a pile of trash.  Including some darn government processed cheese.

Beer and Cheese

Richard Russell

Bud Hankins sat down at the bar with a heavy sigh and ordered a beer. “Hey, Dave! Lager!”

Dave smiled and replied, “Bud, you already owe me. I told you you don’t get served here until you pay your tab!”

Bud’s shoulders dropped as a frown spread across his face. “Aw, come on, Dave, you know I’m good for it.”

Dave rolled his eyes, “Yeah, right. I know your game. Now pay up, or shut up. You can sit here as long as you like. I ain’t gonna throw you out, but all you’re gonna get to drink is water; all you want.”

Bud looked down at the floor to avoid eye contact and seemed to retreat into a little pity party. Without looking up he moaned, “Dang it! I wish I were rich. Dave, how come I ain’t rich? I meet all kinds of rich people. I know there’s plenty of money out there. How come I ain’t got any of it?”

Dave smiled as he wiped the counter with a damp cloth. “Bud, you ain’t got any money ‘cuz you come in here and drink it all. You ain’t looking far enough down the road.”

Bud looked confused. “What?”

Dave went on, “Besides, you don’t wanna be rich, Bud. You wanna be wealthy.”

Bud looked puzzled.

Dave continued, “ See, rich people have money, but they have expenses, too. They can’t stop working because all that money they have will get used up too soon, and they’ll be broke. But if you were wealthy, you could live a long time on the money that comes in without you working.”

Bud squinted in confusion.

“Let’s say you owned a $1000 of ice cream. Would you think you were wealthy?” “Yeah, I could sell it all and make a lot of money.”

“But could you sell it all before it melted?”

“Well, no.”

“Okay, then you’d have to go right back to work, so that’s not wealth. What if you owned $1000 of Coffee grounds? That stuff is useful to a lot of people.”

Bud smiled, “And it doesn’t go bad nearly as fast as ice cream.”

“Yes, Bud, but you’d still have to keep going out to collect more, and the supply could become short.”

“So … that’s not wealth either?”

“No, you’re still having to work in order to keep up your standard of living. But what if you owned all the surplus government processed cheese in the world? That stuff lasts forever.”

“I’d get old and die before I sold all of it.”

“And you’d get someone else to sell it for you, so you don’t have to work. Now that’s wealth.”

“But, Dave, I still wouldn’t have piles of cash sitting around, just piles of cheese.”

“Probably not. You wouldn’t be rich, but you’d be wealthy; you could live pretty well and not have to work.”

Bud smiled, “Hey, Dave?”

“Yeah.”

“Where can I find me some of that cheese?”

“Not in here, Bud. Not in here.”

The Iron Writer Challenge #198 – 2017 Summer Solstice Challenge #4

The Iron Writer Challenge #198

 2017 Summer Solstice Challenge #4

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Authors names will be posted to their stories next Thursday, after the voting is concluded.

The Elements:

A Studebaker

A near miss fatal accident a character missed

Begins with “My real name is _____ and I am here to _______.”

End with: “How can I live without you?”

Untitled

Elaine Johnson

“My real name is Sarah Smith and I’m a federal agent.   I’m here to get you and your family out.   We have to hurry.”  

Marianna pushed past Hannah’s gaping face and strode into the room.    “They’re on to you.  If you agree to testify, we can get you into the Witness Protection program.   It’s your only chance.  We have about half an hour to get your family packed up and out of here.”   

Hannah was saved from having to answer by her cell phone.     

“Babe, you’ll never guess what?”   Jon’s voice crackled, “I found a Studebaker!   It’s for sale.”  He rushed on, “We only get one chance at life, Babe.  What are the odds?  I can’t believe I was just telling you that this was my dream car and here it is!   We have to get this.”   

She pressed her pounding forehead and croaked, “I thought you were taking the children to the doctor.”    

“Well, I did.   Both kids have the same flu as you.”   His voice got quieter, “We got side-swiped on the way to the pharmacy.”   

“What?”   Behind, her, Marianna, or whatever the agent’s name was, was making frantic gestures.    Hannah turned her back, “Are you OK?”  

“It was a near miss.  They were coming straight at us.  It was a head-on collision or going off the side of a bridge.   I’ve never seen anyone drive like that.  ”     

The thumping in her head was getting louder and louder, “What did you do?”   

“I slammed on brakes.   We skidded into the next lane and just missed a semi.”   

“Are you OK?    Are the kids hurt?”   

He must be shoving his hand through his hair, “We’re fine.    The car though.  It’s going to be expensive to get it fixed.   You know, the jerks who caused this didn’t even offer to help.”  He was getting angry, “There were three of them.  Big tough guys. They got out of their Benz and came towards us, but they stopped when everyone got out to help.”      

Hannah’s heart went cold.     

Jon went on, “They didn’t trade insurance information or wait for the police or anything. They just left.”   

“Where are you?”

He came back to life, “We’re at the automotive place.”  His voice changed, “And guess what?  They have a Studebaker!  It’s a sign, right?  We almost died on that bridge and here’s my dream car, fully restored.  We’ve got to get this.  It’s meant to be.” 

She fumbled for the mute button.   The agent was hissing something.   “Hannah, we’ve got to evacuate you.  Now!”    

“Listen Jon.  Umm.  I’ll be there in just a minute.”  

The agent snatched the phone from her hand, “This isn’t a secure line.”    She made a visible effort to relax, “Hannah, you’re the danger.  Nobody’s after them.  They’re better off if you just leave.” 

“Hello?  Hannah?  Did we get cut off?”   

She stared at the phone, “Jon, I love you.”  

“Well, me too.  Is that a yes?”

“How can I live without you?”