Her midichlorian count is off the charts.

Yo, are you even watching, Chevy says throwing another bottle cap at the side of my head. It rings off the arm of my glasses, plastic against metal. Fingers tighten around my shoulder and Chevy lurches up to see my screen.

 

She’s there again. I don’t know how. Must’ve been autopilot. It’s been happening a lot recently. Zone out and be gone ye conscious mind. When I come to she’s there smiling from a bathroom mirror weeks away. I wonder if she can tell whether or not I’ve been looking at her profile again– probably.

 

This girl though. Wow. Bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

 

Y’know how some guys, will ask you a tits man or an ass man before laughing into another can of Miller light. Well, I can appreciate hips that sing siren songs. But I’ll melt at a smile.  

 

And this girl’s smile may not launch a thousand ships like Helena of old, but damn if it doesn’t send my ship into orbit. Those little creases by her eyes, and the little bit of gum you can see right above her top row of teeth.

 

But wait there’s more: a nose ring. Not one of those septum piercings– I wish. Just something modest and cool. A little silver ring. Hoo. Turn on your love light.

 

Looking at her again, dude? He says. Chevy’s eyebrows say it all. The high arches of judgement. What is this the French Revolution? Robespierre showing me the arches of his triumph before my beheading?

 

Why don’t you just talk to her, or you know, message her again? He asks.

 

The nonchalance in his voice is irksome. Like I haven’t thought about doing just that, multiple times, in excruciating detail down to the small creases next to her eyes after I say something witty and funny.

 

Cue Rod Stewart playing in the background and I say: Yeah girl, how about you and me get drinks and fuck. For some reason I’m wearing a gold chain and she says nothing, just giggles and nods along.

 

Bam. Autopilot crashes straight into douche mountain.

 

I sip my beer and back out of her profile. Goodbye for now. Wish it were that easy, Chevy, I say and sigh.

 

I’m just saying bro. Staring at her profile isn’t going to send any signals out there, he says waving a hand in the dead air between us and football. She isn’t going to message you first, so just do it. You already know each other.

 

I shake my head and pocket my phone. Nah, I say scratching my head. Maybe later.

 

He huffs. You won’t do it later.

 

I shrug.

 

Let me do it, he says. His hand hovers under my nose as a wicked smile slithers across his face.

 

Judas, I want to scream. I swat his hand and take another swig of warm beer. No, I say.

 

C’mon man. He persists. Just let me message her for you.

 

My thin veneer of patience is shattering. Should I tell him. No. Definitely not. I can’t.

 

I want to tell him. The messaging isn’t the problem. It’s just. She makes me anxious. I see her and my throat tightens. Like her little smiling wrinkles have force choke power. Her midichlorian count is off the charts, baby. Uhhh, uhhh Hi, I might meek out through my mouth paralysis. My hands shake and I can feel my heart in my ears.

 

But I won’t tell him.

 

No dude. Fuck off. I say standing up brushing the salt and vinegar crumbs from my shirt.

 

Alright fine. He says.

 

In my own time, I think.

 

A small part of my brain says carpe diem dude. No regrets. This part of the brain is too stupid. He’s naive. I hate him, but I love him. He won’t stop smiling.

 

The rest of the cerebral chorus sings a sadder, safer song. Watch wistfully and wait. This side knows alliteration– I’m listening to them.

Advertisements

Glasses

The genie puffed his chest, his tail wavering at the mouth of the bottle. “And, what is your third wish?”

Shilo frowned. What could top his first kiss? The way his entire body went numb after stealing a kiss from Eleanor Shaner under the bleachers. Shilo could’ve sworn he was floating the rest of the day.

Or holding Jennifer for the first time. She was a part of him and he was a part of her. It didn’t seem real. Still, even now that Jennifer had his grandkids to worry about now.

“Well?” The genie said, twirling his beard with a powerful finger.

Shilo mirrored and ran his swollen knuckles through his white beard. “Er. You know I don’t know what I could possibly ask for.” He shrugged.

“You must think of something,” The genie sighed, annoyance written across his face. “I cannot return to my realm until you have used all of your wishes.” The ghostly giant shrunk down to eye level with Shilo. “Think.” It whispered.

Dozens of memories bubbled behind Shilo’s eyelids. Some fragments, some whole, and some, Shilo thought, that couldn’t be real at all. His brow creased as he weighed the finality of it. Last wish. Shilo fogged his glasses with his breath before wiping them on his ancient flannel shirt.

“Human.” The genie said, half pleading.

Shilo pushed his black-rimmed glasses up the bridge of his nose and cleared his throat. “I, er, think I have one. How about,” The genie leaned in so that his forehead nearly kissed shilo’s.

“The first time I put on a pair of these.” Shilo said wiggling the black frames.

“Done.”

The genie snapped, sending sparks from his fingers. Both man and apparition stood to Shilo’s backyard. Shilo felt the life of his 4th grade self. In his hands were a pair of wire circular frames, with glass thicker than the frame. He put them on. The blotches of amber and red in air suddenly sharpened to leaves and branches, innumerable and so clear. Tears rolled down Shilo’s unwrinkled face as he turned to the genie.

“Thank you.”

 

Prompt: You’re a special genie. You allow whoever finds you to re-experience three events that happened in their life for the first time again. Some people choose to re-experience a great movie as if watching it for the first time, some re-live their first kiss. Your latest request sounds quite odd.

fffaw #133- The Chad drinks.

fffaw 133

I slink off between buildings and puke up those whiskey gingers. The cold air feels good on my face. Juxtapose to the hellish burning in my throat.

 

The red brick feels gritty against my palms as I brace myself against the wall. I feel another round coming up, this one’s on me boys, I think and double over.

 

Anybody seen Chad?

 

Yep. Gotta cigarette? I say, stepping into the light, wiping the corners of my mouth.

 

You just puke? He reaches in his pocket for a pack of Camels.

 

Yeah, I shrug. Better out than in.

 

Fire. Smoke. Relief.

 

I throw an arm around James’s shoulders. Let’s get pizza.

 

Ok, he shrugs, sucking a Camel. We start walking towards Tony’s and he asks if I saw that tall black girl at the bar. The ass on her, huh?

 

Didn’t see her, I chuckle. I saw two of ‘er. We laugh and stumble down the chipped sidewalk. I slam my converse into the cement so hard, it must be me making all these cracks.  

 

Word Count- 173

Thank you to Pamela S. Canepa for supplying the picture. And thanks to the other writers participating in the challenge. You can find their stories here.

The Challenge. 

Old Acquaintances

I’m on my fourth beer when Death approaches.

 

“Hello darkness, my old friend.” I say, tossing twigs into the fire and waving a hand at the folding chair full of coors. “Take a seat, grab a beer.”

 

“ How long’ve you been waiting to use that one?” Death says in a voice like the marlboro man’s. Two skeletal hands poke out of his sleeves and hoist the glass-clinking rack from the chair. He smells a bit like formaldehyde and it mixes with the smoke. I cough.

 

“Too long.” I admit. “But then again, I haven’t seen you in a while.” I say, running fingers through my beard. “Must’ve been oh–”

 

“257 days. When I collected Wilhem.” His boney fingers unscrew the top deftly, and bottle’s neck disappears into its hood.

 

“257 days?” I say and shake my head. “Feels like just a few weeks ago.” I pause and watch Death drink. “Hey,” I say, shifting. “How do you, you know,” I say holding my drink up.

 

“Drink? Oh I have all the same parts that you do. I just have to glamour like this.” Death says, smoothing out the black folds of his robe. “I’m actually pretty normal looking, with fingers, a face, an ass. It’s just…it would ruin the facade.” Death shrugs.

 

I nod and finish my beer. “Say, what are you doing out here tonight?”

 

He lets the question hang in the muggy August night air for a moment. Crickets and frogs sing, and I nearly forget that I’d asked until Death speaks.

 

“It’s time.” Death says. A chord of wood explodes in the embers of the fire.

 

I mishear him. “Er, quarter to 11.” I say, pulling out my phone.

 

“No Charlie. It’s time to go.” Death says pushing his chair back. A spiderweb of bones reaches out from a sleeve and the night freezes. Or maybe that’s my heart.

 

I swallow hard. A rock lodges itself in my throat and my eyes feel itchy. “Oh.” I say shivering. I tuck my hands into the gap between my clenched knees and look up again at the silhouette. “Really? I mean, I’m only 42.”

“Yes,” Death says flicking his extended hand. “Really.” A scroll slides from one sleeve into his hand and he opens it. The sound of the parchment drowns out the buzz of nightcrawlers and fire grows behind it.  “Charley Diehl. 42. Cause of death: brain aneurysm and hemorrhaging. To be collected in Lake Francis State Park.”

 

I smother the incoming sobs with beer. Better down than up. “How about this?” I say wiping my mouth.

 

“You want to make a deal with me?” It sighed, pitifully.

 

“Not permanently. No.” Tears start to burn at the corners of my eyes. “I finally get a weekend off work. After doing 14 hour days. This is my vacation. And–”

 

“This isn’t fair?” Death asks. It turns to the fire and extinguishes the light with a wispy kick. “No. Finality usually isn’t. But,” Death sighs. “I don’t make the calls.”

 

I wipe my face, a mess of tears and snot, with my sleeve. “Your scroll there. It doesn’t say what time. At least.” I say, deflating. “At least, let’s you and me finish this fucking beer, eh?”

 

Death thinks it over and wordlessly reaches down into the rack for another beer. “Okay,” it rasps. “You know most people plead for their life back. Or they run. And you ask for beer.” Death chuckles. “Why?”

 

“I. I don’t know. I guess I can’t outrun you forever, if at all.” I say slapping my gut, sending five beers sloshing. “Maybe because I’ve been taught there’s something better after. Something better than 14 hour days, and living alone off of cold pizza.” I turn to Death. “There is, right? Something better I mean.”

 

“I don’t know.” Death says collapsing into folds of black in the folding chair. “If there is, I don’t know about it.”

 

We sit in silence a while in front of wafting ashes. The sky clears filling the camp with a dull glow.

 

“Got any good stories?” I finally say. Empties gather at my feet. I start to see double and think that the hangover is coming on too soon.

Jraw’s Drunken Treat.

Jraw rejoined the Captain at the helm of the Exuberance, crossing paths with the new whore and the cowardly accountant on the stairs. He grinned at the whore who offered nothing in return. Jraw clenched his fingers into fists, almost losing control and laying into the bookish eyes of Mr. Schaub.

 

Captain Morgan looked in a dream-like state, both hands gripped on the wooden wheel when Jraw approached.

 

“Captain?” Jraw said. “I overheard,”

 

The captain’s eyes flashed out of the waking dream and darted at the sharp-eyed climber. “You overheard, did you Mr. Jraw? Oh, that’s a mighty fine convenience for yours truly.” Captain Morgan laughed a weezy wicked laugh. “Care for a drink?” He reached into overshirt and pulled forth a brown bottle wrapped in leather. His brow stiffened as he swallowed. “Fucking dreadful.”

 

Jraw accepted the bottle readily and filled his throat and chest with the fire. He coughed. “This ain’t grog.” Jraw said, handing the bottle back.

 

The captain laughed held up a palm. “Share it with your men.”

 

“My men?”

 

The captain nodded. “You and a few others are going to take that spanish ship.”

 

Jraw swigged from the bottle again and shoved it into the waist of his ragged burlap pants. “Me and a few men versus a whole ship? I’m not sure that I like those odds too much.”

 

The captain nodded and wrapped a heavy arm around the climbers neck, thick with stringy muscles, and led him to the back of the ship. In a voice thick with drink, the captain recounted his and the accountant’s plan. The fact that the bookworm had anything to do with the plot made Jraw uneasy. How could that coward know anything about taking a ship if he hadn’t ever hoisted a sail, or held a sword?

 

The climber waited patiently for the captain to finish, which he did with a belch. “Who should I take with me, captain?”

 

“Whoever’s good at killing.” The captain laughed harshly. He patted Jraw on the back. “Remember, wait for the signal.” Jraw nodded.

 

In the bowels of the ship, Jraw found Reed and Jules. Both average sailors, Jraw thought, but excelled when it came to matters of blood and cruelty. He’d personally been present when Reed used his thumbs to scoop out the eyes of an overambitious pirate hunter back in Saint-Domingue. Jules, Jraw had been less sure of. Others looked up to him on the ship and his exploits. Among them, numerous rapes, murders, and his favorite story to tell over a bottle: tarring and burning two slaves in Jamaica because they’d looked at him with accursed eyes. It was, according to Jules, the only way to avoid the curse.

 

Jraw found his killers down in the hold playing cards and whispered to them promises of blood. Both followed Jraw topside to ready their dinghy. Across the deck, Jraw watched the whore and the accountant do the same, stealing glances at the whore’s deft hands and round ass. She was too focused on undoing knots to look over in Jraw’s direction.

 

They set out drinking in the moonlight and Caribbean breeze. Jraw looked up to Exuberance and Captain Morgan nodding his approval. Jraw raised the bottle in salute and finished the harsh liquor in one long swig. He would definitely be drunk now, Jraw thought. All the better to kill.

 

“Hey I wanted some of that,” Jules said, his body rippling with each stroke.

 

Jraw hushed his voice to a hoarse whisper. “Shut the fuck up and row. After we take these Spanish bastards, then we can get good and drunk.”

 

Jules and Reed exchanged a look. “Arse.” Reed whispered.

 

Jraw pretended not to hear and sat on the balls of his feet at the front, watching. Slowly their dinghy glided around the rock face between the two ships and the Spanish ship, El Sanson Jraw made out, edged nearer. It’s two masts sprouting towards the moon like nocturnal flowers.

 

“Stay close to the rocks, to the shadow.” Jraw whispered, barely audible over the babble of the water crashing through the shallow rocks.

 

Jules and Reed’s drunkenness, Jraw saw, had transformed into fixation. Both worked in perfect tandem to lift and drop oars in silence, pushing away from nearly invisible rocks. In the distance, Jraw watched a ghostly light make its way through the clearing towards the ship and heard shouting.

 

“Fucking hell boys,” Jraw turned to the others, “We’re late. Pull up beside the ship.” They did as they were told, speeding through open waters into the shadow of El Sanson. Jraw stood as they pulled up next to the ship and braced the dinghy with his hands, cutting his sword hand on a barnacle.

 

“Fuck,” he mouthed, bringing his mouth to his hand. The taste of copper played on his tongue. Jraw refocused and found handholds he liked. He showed an open palm to his oarsmen to stop them.

 

“Okay, I’ll knock twice when the coast is clear.” Jraw said. Jules and Reed nodded. Jraw flexed his cut hand once, and began to climb. Over the rotted creeks of the old ship, Jraw heard the loud clatter of wood on wood. Boarding or getting off, he thought.

 

He neared the top and peered upwards. The drunken guard was nearly on top of him and pulling at his pants. Jraw pulled himself closer to the damp side of the spanish ship and prayed. A steady stream broke overhead and clanged against the bottom of the dinghy.

 

“Huh?”

 

Jraw looked up again and straight into the squinting eyes of the drunk spaniard, his member still in his hand. He jumped backwards as Jraw made no hesitation vaulting the handrail. His sword nearly slipped from his bloody hand as he drew and swung at the spaniard’s head.

 

“Pir–”

 

Jraw’s blade landed with a wet thud in the drunkard neck. He stumbled back and put a shaking hand against his throat. The unsure slash sent the cutlass sprawling against the deck in a metallic clatter. Jraw reached for his knife and found only the bottle in his belt. In a second, he was upon the chest of the spaniard keeping him from sounding further alarm. With a hand wrapped around the spaniards neck Jraw smashed the wrapped bottle against the deck and pulled the shattered neck from the leather, plunging the shard deep into the spaniards eye. Blood sprayed from the wound, covering Jraw’s face and shoulders in a red mist. Taste’s just like mine, he thought, smiling at his handy work.

 

A clatter of boots approaching snapped him to attention. It was the whore. Jraw smiled behind his ghastly mask and she smirked in approval. Finally, he thought.    

Do you know anything of Magic?

The hall smelled of smoke and blood. The ceilings nearly grazed the top of my head. Elder Ryan sat at the far end. A portly man of fifty and seven, he didn’t look a day over 30. His deigned to look up, instead fixating on a parchment in the low torchlight as his quill scratched feverishly.

“Er,” I said, not wishing to disturb his studies.

He held out a hand and gestured at the open seat. A few decisive scratches later, he peered over the tops of his half-moon spectacles and smiled a warm Christmas-morning smile. He stuck out both hands and enveloped mine in a warm shake.

“I assume you’re here about the fliers posted up around town. What’s your name?”

I nodded, the words stuck on the back of my tongue. I pulled at my collar, a tad too tight. “Randall Crowley, sir. And, I am, sir. I–”

“What makes you think that you’re hunter material.” His sharp eyes darted up and down my presence. “Sure you look the part. Youthful, athletic even. And I bet those shoulders of yours are no stranger to an axe. But,” his finger shot up. “Do you have the courage? The balls.” He cupped his right hand and hefted it to chest level. “To kill?”

I shook my head and coughed. Wisps of smoke bit at my throat. “You’re a good guess mister Ryan. I am no stranger to an axe. And though I have never used mine to kill, I can if called upon to do so. Death is no stranger to me.”

He nodded and tucked his chin to his chest. “Hmmph. Well I suppose we can’t put that to the test without getting you in the field.” He leaned forward, close so I could smell the beer and onion on his breath. “Tell me,” his voice lowered. “What do you know about the hunter profession?”

I shrugged. “To be honest with you sir. Not too much. I know that the realm depends on the likes of the hunters to keep us safe from the malicious spell craft of wizards and cunning charms of witches.”

He smiled at the answer, and leaned again in his seat, shifting his ass back and forth. “Ha! Right on the money mister Crowley. Hunters keep the the realm safe from all sorts of magic and magic metallurgy. Because of us the crown feels much safer than it did a hundred years ago.”

I nodded.

“Do you know anything of magic mister Crowley? Of course not. It’s a dark art and what would an honest man like yourself know about such wicked workings? It’s the reason that crops and newborns wilt every year mysteriously. Because of magic, wives up and disappear. Or worse, disappear their husbands.” Elder Ryan said, crossing his arms and shivering.

“Mister Crowley, have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and found the window you know you shut, open. Or woken cold, covered in sweat?”

I leaned forward resting my head on my clenched fist. “You know now that you mention it, yes. Many times.”

“Magic.” Elder Ryan said flatly. “Malicious in nature, magic is. Plain and simple.”

I shook my head. A sick knot formed in my stomach and wrote its presence across my brow. “Well that’s got to stop. Dammit. I won’t stand for that.” I said, springing out of my seat.

Elder Ryan, laughed bringing his double chin into a happy dance. “Excellent, mister Crowley. That’s the enthusiasm we like to see here. Let me get you a badge and a sword belt.” His pudgy hands went to work at the trunk next to the desk.

Up here the smoke stung my eyes and choked off my breath. I sat back down, lightheaded. “Mister Ryan, have you considered putting in some windows in this place, airing it out a bit.” I said scanning the mud and brick walls. “Hell– even a chimney?”

He laughed dismissively, muffled by the trunk. “Nonsense, mister Crowley. Windows and chimneys are how the magic gets in.” He said reaching across the desk with my new red and white badge in hand.   

 

Prompt: “So you want to know how magic works huh?

The Trick.

The moon had moved only slightly across the star spangled sky when Charles and the mute dipped their oars. Captain Morgan allowed the two just one lantern between them and told them not to light it until they were in position near the dock. Charles didn’t need the lantern as full as the moon was now. Its soft pale light skipped off the waters lighting the way.

 

The mute watched Charles the whole way with uneasy look, thumbing the knife tucked into her right boot. It had been Captain Morgan’s. He’d slipped into her waiting hand at the helm of the Exuberance before kissing her. The head, Charles saw, was a smiling skull wrought in gold. It shined with a crazed fury as the whore circled it with her thumb.

 

“Planning on killing the spanish all yourself,” Charles said, trying to fend off the quiet and his nerves. He pointed his freshly shaved chin at the knife. The whore tilted her head to the right and slowly nodded. Charles shivered as the cold intensity in her eyes drank in the moonlight. He submitted to the quiet babble of the waves.

 

Charles and the whore lunged as the dinghy scraped across a rock. Charles turned to see the shore mere feet away. The whore hoisted herself up and brushed a cruel hand through his hair as she leapt from the back of the dinghy with the lantern and landed gracefully on the sand without so much as a sound.

 

“Hey,” Charles said, in a hoarse whisper. “You’ve got to help me with the dinghy.” He stood up and wobbled, nearly falling face first into the shallows. The mute shrugged and motioned for the accountant to join her on the small strip of sand past the rocky ledge.

 

It was darker in the shadow of the rock face. Charles bent at the knees and attempted to regain his balance. The mute snapped at him, and pointed to the ground next to her.

 

“But what about the dinghy?” Charles asked. The mute snapped again and stomped a foot into the sand. He jumped and landed on solid ground on his heels nearly falling backwards. A deft hand grabbed the accountants collar and threw tumbling forward into the grass. He stood and brushed off his pants. His thanks died on his lips when he turned to the whore and saw her finger pressed to her pursed lips.

 

The mute took the lead in the woods, insisting Charles to keep pace with an impatient hand. The two came upon a clearing and stopped just short. The whore turned and put a her palm on Charles’s chest. She held up a length of rope and held out her hands. Charles took it and tied a dummy knot, something she could get out of had she needed. With both hands she pointed at Charles and pantomimed upturning a bottle and pretended to stumble. Charles nodded, he was to be drunk– perfect.

 

Charles lit the lantern with a few flicks of flint and the two stumbled into the clearing and into the sight of the spanish guard. A gravely voice called out from the ship.

 

“Hey, you two. Come here. What is your business at this time of night?” A lone spanish guard called from behind the muzzle of a musket.

 

Charles called back in rough spanish, his voice shaky. “Greetings friend. I come to you for to sell things.” Charles felt the plan walking a fine line. He had no idea how long he could continue this high stakes charade without shitting himself.

 

The guard held up a hand, palm facing the two, bidding them stop just short of the dock. “Sell what?” He called back. The spaniard took his finger from the trigger, yet he didn’t he lower the gun.

 

“The girl.” Charles said, shoving the whore in the back. She stumbled and fell to a knee in the sand. “She is a good…” Charles’s spanish fled, so he stuck his fist up to his mouth and puffed out one of his cheeks with a tongue.

 

The guard smiled and waved them forward, leaning the gun against the wooden rail of the ship muzzle pointed to the sky. “She sucks good?” Charles recognized the word and nodded furiously, and the spaniard guffawed. “Bring her here then. We’ll put her to the test.”

 

Charles picked the whore up from the sand and prodded her in the back. At the dock, he lowered the lantern and blew out the flame. Jraw would be watching he knew. Now was the time. The spaniard lowered the wooden ramp to the dock and nearly fell walking it. He’d come unarmed and Charles could smell the grog on him, as if he’d fell into the barrel and bathed in it.

 

Charles stepped back and let the spaniard inspect the whore. With a rough, brute hand, the spaniard grabbed the mutes cheeks from under her jaw and squeezed. She pulled away and feigned struggling with the hand restraints and the spaniard laughed. He pulled her close and puckered his own lips. This time she spit and a glob landed on the spaniard’s neck. The spaniard’s puckered lips tightened as anger flooded his unfocused eyes and he landed a right fist into the whore’s stomach. The air went out of the mute and she doubled over coughing.

 

“Not a very good whore.” The spaniard said wiping spittle from his neck with the back of his hand. He ran the same hand through his hair and spit on the back of her head.

 

Charles shrugged. “She to get better.” Charles grabbed his right hand with his left, trying to stop its trembling. Where the fuck was Jraw and the other’s, he thought.

 

The spaniard grinned and reached down to grab the mutes face again. She was quicker though. The captain’s knife made a wet sliding sound as the whore plunged it into the spaniards throat. His eyes bulged as both hands went for his throat as the whore pushed off and tackled the spaniard to the dock. By the time they both fell onto the rotted wood, he was dead. The crazed gold skull capping off the red geyser under his chin. The whore spat once more on in the spaniards eye and pulled out the blade and wiped it on the spaniards pants before shoving it back into her boot.  

 

She turned to Charles and smiled wickedly before turning back to pad up the ramp and into the heart of the Spanish ship.

Knee-slapper

FFfAW 132

I saw you across the convention center floor. In the hectic jungle of the mid-morning sunday flea market, your flower stand was an oasis of stillness. You smiled and folded your hands over your chest like grandpa used to during MASH reruns.

 

“G’morning.” your heavy southern drawl caught me off guard, I must admit. I nodded, and pushed my glasses up the bridge of my nose. “See anything you like?”

 

I did.

 

Each pot sang silent songs of love had and love promised. Crimsons, eggshell, and bright golds popped under the indoor fluorescents. I quivered thinking of what they looked like naturally.

 

“Everything, actually.” I said, searching for price tags. I thought of my date the night before. Mary. The marigolds match her hair.

 

You nodded, smiling. “My wife grew them herself.”

 

I pulled out my wallet.

 

“She’s a wonderful gardner.”

 

“Mmhm.”

 

“She just didn’t know it when she was alive.” You slapped your knee, and I froze. “Mmhm. Her compost sure is magic.”

 

And back into the noise I fled.

 

 

 

Word count: 171

Photo credit to shivamt25. Flash fiction in response to FFfAW hosted by Princess Joy. Click here to enjoy other’s FFfAW stories.

The Captain has a Plan

Jraw watched the Spanish ship in the moonlight-splashed shallows. The Exuberance sat behind a tangle of rocks big enough to block out everything but the mast. It was a clear night and from his perch, Jraw could see that the Spanish had only two guards on duty, and one looked to be deep in his cups. Captain Morgan whistled softly from deck.

 

Jraw looked down and grabbed two ropes with gnarled hands and shimmied down. The darkness hindered him none. Others on board joked that Jraw’s mother had done some unsultry things with a monkey in her youth, the way he climbed. Jraw never reacted. He considered the taunts as jealousy, and besides he thought, better to be up and about the nest than on deck with lesser men.

 

“So?” Captain Morgan said, his eyebrows raised expectantly. “How many men on watch over there Mr. Jraw.?”

 

The climber wiped his hands on his torn burlap pants and looked up to the captain who stood a solid head and shoulders above Jraw. “Aye captain. Two men on deck. One is definitely drunk. He can’t get his feet underneath ‘im. And I saw ‘im pissin’ off the side twice while I was up there.”

 

The captain craned his neck to look at the nest. “You sure they didn’t spot you up there?”

 

“Er, no, captain. They didn’t even glance in this direction. Too busy keeping their eyes, and cocks, on the shallows.” Jraw said.

 

Captain Morgan stroked the length of his black beard and smiled. He craned once again, this time to the moon’s pale face, and smiled. “Jraw?”

 

“Captain.”

 

“Go get me Charles and the mute whore.”

 

“Aye captain. Right away.”

 

Charles walked found the captain first, preferring not to walk behind the mute, or her ass. The way it swung when she walked, her slim dress popping this side and that, Charles tried to shut it out of his mind. Captain Morgan stood at the helm, leaning against the wooden wheel as large as himself. He nodded to Charles and smiled at his new favorite bed warmer.

 

“Evening to you both.” Captain Morgan said, licking the fronts of his teeth. She smiled.

 

“Evening captain. You have a devilish look about you. Are we hitting them tonight?” Charles asked. He walked to the end of the ship and looked to the water.

 

“Aye, we are Mr. Schaub.”

 

“A bit too clear out, I would venture to say. Wouldn’t it be better to hit them on a cloudy night.”

 

Captain Morgan brushed past the whore and put his hand on Charles’s shoulder. A soft clap rang out across the open water and Charles tensed somewhat. “Oh I agree that a cloudy night might be better suited to our needs Mr. Schaub, but we simply can’t wait that long. I would venture to guess that the Spaniards are readying to leave soon. No. We must hit them tonight, if your plans stands any chance.” He and Charles turned back round to face the length of the ship. “Fear not though, I have a plan.” Morgan walked up to the whore, took her hand and kissed it before looking at Charles. “And it involves her.”

 

She laughed a throaty gurtling laugh that raised gooseflesh across Charles’s arms.

 

Morgan stood and turned toward the rocks bordering the inlet the Exuberance sat in. “Your spanish is coming along well Charles?”

 

“Aye it is.” Charles said, feeling his stomach tighten. He felt Morgan’s plans were becoming known to him before the captain even said them. And, Charles did not like where they were going.

 

“Good. You and the whore will head by land to the dock and present yourselves as a distraction.” Captain Morgan said. Charles winced and began to protest before Morgan spoke over him. “While you’re doing that, a few of my men will make their way around these rocks and take the ship.”

 

“Aye captain, my spanish is okay but certainly not passable with actual Spaniards. They’ll know in a second that I’m not spanish. Would it not be better to send the guitarist Yarny?” Charles said.

 

It was the captain’s turn to laugh. “And have him run on me? Not a chance. And, did I say anything about being spanish, Mr. Schaub?” He clapped the accountant’s back again. “You’re going to sell her.” He said, showcasing the whore with an upturned palm.

 

She glared at the captain then to Charles. She opened her mouth as if to offer a word and instead hissed. Both men stepped back and she stomped a boot to the deck. Captain Morgan stepped forward and took her shaking hand, which she allowed him. He kissed it gently on the back and ran a finger through her hair.

 

“Don’t worry,” the captain whispered to his whore. “You’ll get to kill some of the bastards too.”

 

Charles, unable to hear the captain, watched the mute melt. Her distaste had, in a few short whispers, become delight.  

A Pirate’s Life for Me

A tanker half-full of grog flew over Charles’s head, yet the accountant pressed on. The Queen Anne’s Exuberance was abuzz tonight. The guitarist stolen from a spanish vessel a week prior was strumming brilliantly. Crewmen eyed Charles warily as he passed by their tables– every time he turned up they knew he would try to stop their fun. An uninvited chaperone if ever there was one.

 

In the back of the mess hall, surrounded by blue smoke and wrapped in the legs of the silent whore they’d taken from the human trader the day before, sat Captain Morgan. His beard was wet and matted with grog and his reddened eyes spoke of one too many drags of cigar.

 

Charles strained to speak over the spanish guitar and harsh laughter aboard the ship. “Captain.” Charles began, clearing his throat. The captain didn’t hear, his ear belonged to the whore– literally. She sucked the top while he laughed a hard, wheezing laugh.

 

“Captain,” Charles stepped forward putting himself between the lantern’s light and the captain. “Captain Morgan, sir, I must have a word.”

 

Out of the shadow, a mountain sprung. Steadily at first, until on his feet, then Morgan felt the grog in his knees and wobbled. “What is it Schaub? What do you want at a time like this?” A rough hand and spun the accountant around tucking him under the captain’s tree trunk arm. Charles and Morgan were greeted with raised mugs and shouts. “Can’t you see that we’re having a good time? Relaxing after a long day of sailing. Who am I to deny this crew of that pleasure hmm.” The smoke in the captain’s voice rivalled that of the cigar’s swirling around the hall.  

 

Charles pulled himself away from the captain and untucked his ledger from the crook of his arm. “Sir, that’s what you hired me for.” Charles felt the wary looks sweep across him like a hard salt spray. “I’ve been going over the expenses, earnings,” he paused. “And the grog budget.” An audible sigh of annoyance rose from the room at the mention of grog. “We can’t afford to keep spending like this.”

 

Captain Morgan stepped backwards and braced himself against a table before erupting in laughter. “Charles, we’re fuckin’ pirates. We don’t afford anything, we take it as we see fit.” The captain turned to the crew, hands upturned and a face red from laughter. They responded in kind with whoops and calls for more drink.

 

Charles took a step towards the wobbling captain and turned his face away from the crew to the whore, and then dropped his gaze from her out of courtesy. “But, sir.” Charles said. “We haven’t taken anything in quite some time. Just more mouths to feed.” He gestured toward the whore who was now twirling her hair around a slender finger and puffing blue smoke from a tongueless mouth.

 

The captain raised a glass to the crew and sat back down, gesturing for Charles to do the same. “Mr. Schaub, I hear your concerns,” He said softly so that Charles had to strain to hear. “And believe me, I share them. I really do. Soon we’ll have no money for grog, much less food.” The captain upturned his hands on the table and looked stricken. “I’ve been betting on a big haul for some time now with no success. For the time being, I need to keep up appearances or else…” He drew a line across his throat with a bulging finger.

 

Charles’s chest grew fiery. “You’ve known all this time. We’ve been broke and you just kept spending away. How–” The captain lowered a hand trying to shush the accountant. Charles looked at the whore with venom. “What about her, she just heard everything.”

 

Captain Morgan sighed and took his cigar back. “And who, pray, will she tell Charles? She’s a mute.”

 

Charles nodded. He felt the flush in his chest working its way up now. His own throat tightened and his mouth grew dry. “So what do you plan on doing? Waiting is getting you nowhere. Sooner or later, we’ll run out of essentials and then what?”

 

The captain shrugged. It was the first time he’d looked unsure of anything in all the time that Charles knew him. The captain once told Charles when he took residence on the Exuberance that any loon could be a pirate.To be a good one meant decisiveness. There was no room for indecisiveness with so many cutlasses about to cut it out of you.

 

It was then that Charles had an idea. One that required a great deal of preparation, but he thought, with the right crew it could be done.

 

Captain Morgan watched the gears turn in Charles’s head and spoke. “Have you any ideas Mr. Schaub?”

 

Charles’s sheepish look spread into a devious smile. “In fact I do. It’ll take a bit of work though.” Captain Morgan leaned forward, pushing his cup of grog to the side. “First, if I’m not mistaken, there’s a Spanish treasure fleet making its way out of the Atlantic basin soon. They’re docked right now, but only for a while. Were going to need to capture another spanish ship in the meantime and steal their uniforms, flags, everything.”

 

The captain’s smile broke against his yellowing teeth as he nodded, letting his mop of tangled black hair fall over his eyes.

 

“Then, we’ll have the musician teach the crew some spanish– enough to get by. Once we speak, look, and sail Spanish, how will they know the difference? We slip into the fleet once they leave their dock and strike the man o’ war in the night. Then we make off with the gold and head straight for Tortuga.”

 

The captain laughed. “My,” He said and stood, looking approvingly down at his accountant. “That’s downright devilish. I love it.” He turned to the crew, who necked around as the captain stepped up. “Alright boys,” he roared. “Who wants to go steal some spanish gold?”    

 

The crew stood frenzied at once. Splashes of grog flew into the air and came down upon the savage crowd. Captain Morgan caught a flying tankard and walked to the closest tapped barrel and filled it. He stumbled back to Charles and handed him his drink. “A pirate’s life for me, Charles. And, I think for you too.”

 

 

Prompt: A notorious pirate is sailing the seas looking for treasure but never finds any, while his crew throws parties every night. You’re the ship’s accountant and you are starting to get annoyed.