The Iron Writer Challenge #66
2014 Summer Solstice Challenge #2
A nighttime fire breather
A lace shawl
A revolving door
“It’s chilly out tonight.”
Alex pulled her shawl close to her, thanking her lucky stars that it was merely a brisk summer’s night that the lace was sufficient.
“It is, but it’s worth it for lakeside service.”
She and her date walked through a revolving door into the restaurant. She kept the shawl close because she knew she was going to be right back into the cool air as soon as Logan could request a table.
“How can I help you tonight?”
“Table for two please, out on the patio if you have one.”
~Please don’t have one,~ Alex found herself thinking, but almost as soon as she could think it, her wish was dashed.
“Absolutely sir. Follow me.”
Alex couldn’t help but roll her eyes as she followed her date back into the elements. He pulled her chair out to seat her, but despite his gentlemanly affectations, something was just a little bit off.
“Thank you, Logan.”
“You are quite welcome, my dear.”
Alex steeled herself for the meal to come. With any luck, she could get through it without incident.
“Oh hey, look at that,” Logan said, pointing out across the lake.
Alex turned to look where he was pointing and saw a band of fire dancers performing on the shore, with a fire breather in the middle of them. Even from a distance, the sight of flame-tipped batons twirling around was inspiring, even more so when great plumes of fire erupted to accentuate the experience. Alex found she was enthralled by the act and applauded when it was over, despite the fact that she knew they couldn’t possibly hear her from across the lake.
Luckily Logan had also watched and was also applauding, which made her feel at once strange and vindicated.
“You never know what you’ll see on the shores of this lake,” Logan said without invitation. “That’s why I like to eat here, even when it’s cold outside.”
The couple finished their meal without further incident. Their server came over to the table with the bill.
“Are you ready to be rung up?”
“Yes,” said Logan, and suddenly the pit in Alex’s stomach grew.
~Oh no. Don’t do it with someone watching–~
“Here you go,” he said as he pulled his wallet out. Alex tried very hard not to look at it, but a few neighboring diners made no such effort.
Logan’s wallet was 100% duct tape. Not even fresh duct tape, he’d had it for years, so it was fraying on the edges and adhesive was exposed and got stuck to things.
Alex tried very hard to look pleased until the server had gone away.
“I told you I would pay here. This is a fancy restaurant, it’s no place to pull out your craft projects.”
Alex slumped back in her seat, staring across the lake, wondering if any of the fire dancers were still there, and if any of them knew how to behave in social situations.
She didn’t see Logan again.
K. A. DaVur
I am here for the groundbreaking. There are hundreds of people here with me, most of them crying angry cries, carrying angry signs. They do not want this store here, with it’s revolving doors, its endless aisles of greeting cards and duct tape, of foot creme and video games and garish neon underwear. I am not here to protest, though I do blend in amongst them. We share the same olive skin, the same wide faces. We share much more, of that I am sure, but today their business is not mine. It’s a curious turn of phrase. Groundbreaking. Ground. Breaking. Broken. Cannot contain.
Pestilence overcame my village once. He crawled out of the forest like the mist and overcame us. He choked people with his long, thin fingers, he turned our food to rot. But, one night around the fire my Grandfather made a hole in his brain. The fire roared and the people danced as his wife looked on, smoking a pipe and wrapping her lace shawl tighter around herself. A tear snaked it’s way down her cheek, though she sang and clapped with the rest. Qoldi’yek spoke through him then, he spoke mightily and my Grandfather began to dance about on his toes. He called to pestilence, and Pestilence came. He could not be seen and yet those gathered could feel him dampening their chests so they could not breathe. They could feel him sowing ice in their hearts. But Qoldai-yek spoke through my Grandfather again, he told Pestilence to leave. He waved his rattle, whale-bone carved to resemble an oyster catcher, a creature of water just as we and Pestilence cried out as if in pain. The creature was not to leave easy, though, for it had been enjoying it’s time of rest in our village, it had grown fat and lazy on the easy prey. My grandfather fell to the ground and when we ran to touch him we saw he had three deep gashes across his chest. “Do not touch him,” my Grandmother yelled, “do not touch him,” and she flapped her lace shawl at us. And so we sat. and soon Grandfather rose again “Pestilence,” Qoldai-yek shouted through him, “you may feed here no longer.” and pestilence struck him again but Qoldai-yek was much stronger. He rose from my Grandfather’s mouth as a flame, so high that it reached the heavens and the embers that came off of it joined the stars in the sky. And Pestilence left. Back to the dark depths of the forest. And there he has stayed. Until now.
I was out in my canoe, searching for a Halibut, when a walrus came to me. He approached so fearlessly and then he spoke and he spoke with the voice of my grandfather.. The ground is to be broken. Pestilence will be released from whence he was cast all of those years ago. From the dark woods from which all evil comes. And so I am here. I am here and there is no fire. There is no music. Still I must make a whole in my brain and wait to see who will speak through me.
(I was inspired for this piece by an exhibit of carvings by native Alaskans, including one cleansing rattle, used by a Tlingit shaman for a Cleansing. You can read more about the Tlingit here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_and_religion_of_the_Tlingit)
“Yippee! We’re going to the Mall!”
Bobby jumped up and down with impatience as his mother cleaned up the lunch dishes.
She wished she hadn’t said anything. Bobby was a handful as it was, and now he was too big to go in the pram, it was always a struggle.
“We’re not going to be long. I just have to buy some duct tape and a present for Grandma.”
Bobby’s enthusiasm continued as Margaret buckled him into the car seat.
She got in the car and backed out of the driveway. Bobby was still restless.
“Are we there yet?”
“We going to buy a duck. Yippee!”
“Are we there yet?”
Margaret ignored the constant heckling.
When they arrived at the Mall, Bobby spent several minutes caught in the entrance revolving door – screaming with delight as he ran around and around and around.
When she was finally able to extract Bobby from his game, Margaret gripped Bobby’s hand and literally pulled him around the shops.
She bought the duct tape to repair the screen door at home and a lace shawl for her mother’s birthday. Finally she bought a cup of coffee for herself, a soda for Bobby and sat down to catch her breath.
On the wall of the café a poster for a visiting circus stared back at her. There were pictures of elephants, lions and tight-rope walkers. There was even a dark but arresting picture of a man blowing a plume of fire into the air.
Margaret tried desperately to keep Bobby from seeing it.
“Look, Mum!” Bobby shrieked, and Margaret held her breath for the expected plea. As a single mum, she didn’t have the finances to take Bobby on such a treat.
Bobby looked around at the rest of the people in the café and grinned. “I can blow bubbles.” He proceeded to foam strawberry soda all over the table.
Margaret sighed again, this time with relief. She couldn’t wait to get home!
Alex never thought he would be here again. Seated on a bench in the river plaza of his hometown. Every square foot holds so many bad memories. He proposed to his high school sweetheart where the fire breather was blowing red flames into the night sky. Kind of ironic seeing as how she died in a house fire weeks later.
Couples passed around him in fancy cloths, drastically different from his dark green windbreaker and jeans. In a few hours there was going to be a masquerade and his time would run out to accomplish his mission. His goal was simple, shake off the nostalgia and eliminate a target. The target was reported to be wearing a lace shawl. This was the one part of being a spy he hated; he never was fond of murder.
The party was taking place on a lakefront patio and that was where his chance would appear. Without a sense of urgency he got up and moved toward his hotel room. Alex never made eye contact with anyone else, even ignoring the doorman holding the door open in favor of the revolving one. Blood red carpet guided him back to the room.
Alex’s room never appeared to be used. The bed was untouched, minus the dark case placed in the perfect center of the mattress. Once opened, the case revealed his disassembled sniper rifle. Alex methodically and without emotion clicked together the large rifle. After he completed the assembling, only one part remained. Duct taped under the end table was a silencer. Alex screwed the silencer on and walked out on his balcony.
He took a seat on a plastic chair and watched the fire breather entertain a small group of people. Every breath was almost hypnotic, crimson streaks in a black sky. There was a series of chirps from Alex’s watch signaling ten minutes till the masquerade. He set the rifle on the balcony railing and stared through the scope.
People gathered from every corner and were retrieving their masks in preparation for the dance. Alex moved the crosshairs back and forth across the congregating mass. Then a figure emerged from the group and leaned against the rail overlooking the river. Her blonde hair was like a beacon of light in the night. More importantly, she was wearing a lace shawl. Alex moved his finger over the trigger and steadied his breath. Then she turned around and looked into the scope, almost like she knew he was there.
“Sasha!” Alex gasped to himself.
Sasha was his girlfriend who died in the fire so long ago. Like a haunting memory she stood there quietly and locked on his location. Alex sighed and thought maybe it was time to leave and say he failed. Let her continue life and be happy with whoever she is with.
Instead he simply pulled the trigger.