Fiction · Prompt · unedited

Full Retreat

Sgt. Maple studied his bloody hands in the midst of the artillery crater. That’s strange, he thought, they’re not even shaking. His life-long relationship with the bottle left him with constant tremors. He wondered whether it was the sheer force with which he gutted that young german boy, or trying to catch and stuff Pvt. Miller’s intestines back in his shredded stomach that had set his hands straight.

 

The sky was weeping now, a dull gray had rolled overhead. Which side does He weep for, Maple wondered. Perhaps all of us, he decided as he patted his pockets for smokes. Where were they? Oh, that’s right. He’d finished them last night on watch.

 

The dirt felt cold and slick under Sgt. Maple’s palm. Cold made sense. This far down the ground ought to be cold. Wet made less sense, he pulled his hand up and noticed tinges of rust smeared on his palm. The sight between his splayed fingers now came into focus. It was Pvt. Charlie Santorini. He was dead. His legs below the knees were gone and his face was the shadow of pain. Maple patted Charlie’s breasts and found some cigarettes, took one, and lit it.

 

“Thanks Charlie,” he said, through the Marlborough filter. He stared at Charlie’s stumps and thought about how the army could save money on the casket. He was a good foot shorter now. A shell whistled overhead.  

 

Then there was a tumble of dirt on his neck and down his shirt. The skidding of boots on the slope behind Maple. He didn’t turn, he couldn’t. A cigarette had never tasted so good. And then it was gone– shaken out of his mouth by a frantic jerk of his shoulders. Time sped up. Shells whirred by more frantically. Tracer rounds soared through the graying sky.

 

“Sarge.” Pvt. Yancy’s boyish face was a few inches from his. “Sarge, we gotta go. Damn Nazi’s are all over. They’re rolling through the streets with tanks.” Another shake. “Sarge let’s go.”  

 

Sgt. Maple said nothing and stared at the Private. Flashes of awareness fired behind the Sgt.’s eyes. They were in France, in some god forsaken city far away from home. Too far. Maple blinked and one by one looked at the faces before him. Not like Charlie, distant and cold, but real live faces. Privates Yancy, Holloway, and Wishbone. Just kids; no older than boys. Just out of highschool most like. They should be in school right now, Maple thought, not here halfway across the world fighting somebody else’s war.

 

Maple shot awake. “Yancy, Holloway, Wishbone. Status report.”

 

Wishbone was nursing a hand, Maple saw, and was rifle-less. Yancy’s eyes mimicked dinner plates as he frantically surveyed what he could from down in the crater. Holloway spoke up, his southern drawl the only sweet thing for miles around.

 

“Well Sarge, we’re retreatin’. We need to go four blocks a-thataway.” He nodded back. “The only way out of this fuckin’ town is over a got-damn bridge.” Another shell whirred into the building across the street and showed the boys with rubble and dust. “We should get goin’.”

 

Maple heard Holloway out and felt a spark of pride in his chest. They’d come far since he laid eyes on their sorry asses a few months ago. Wishbone, he remembered, hadn’t even known how to shave when they first got to Europe. Maple had to show him late one morning, stooped over a candle and makeshift polished silver mirror. He’d cut himself twice.

 

Maple reached for another smoke and lit it. The sounds of treads and crunching rubble started gaining, shaking the pebbles lining the crater.

 

“Sarge, we gotta go. C’mon,” Holloway said, reaching for Maple’s arm.

 

Maple shook him off. “No, you boys go. I’m gonna stay right here. You go.”

 

Each looked at him as if he’d sprouted another set of legs, Charlie’s legs. He puffed from the cigarette and thought about his own son. The folded flag and silver star. Send it home, he’d said, send it to his mother. Maple just realized he hadn’t cried for his son yet. He didn’t have the time.

 

He took another look at the boys around him, patted his side arm, and spotted the smoke grenade on Yancy’s belt. “Yancy, gimme that,” Maple said, pointing a ragged finger. “I’ll need it, if y’all are going to make it out of here.”

 

With the smoke grenade in his left hand, a pistol in his right, and another full cigarette, Maple stood. “When I say run, you boys make a mad dash for that bridge.” He half turned and stopped. “Make sure you go back to school when you get back stateside.”

 

Sgt. Maple vaulted over the edge of the crater towards the rumble of the approaching war machine. The huddled privates heard the pop of the smoke grenade then a frantic “Run.” They did and didn’t look back.

 

Prompt:

In the midst of a full retreat, one soldier decides to do the unexpected, and charge the enemy, giving comrades time to escape.

Prompt · unedited

Dramatization

They say a good foundation is everything. Who are they? Who’s to say. But that tidbit about the foundation is valuable no doubt. Whether you’re scraping at the vibrant baby blue of the sky with a magnificent tower, or constructing the most delectable of cheesecakes, foundations are everything. Today, though, we’ll be talking about the latter.

 

Now for the purposes of accuracy we’ll call our foundation the crust; because that’s exactly what it is. Your crust is important. It will be flakey, golden, delicious, and most importantly hold the rest of your sweet cheesey goodness together.

 

You’ll need a few things of course. One does not conjure perfect crust from mere air. You’ll need 9 graham crackers, 4 tablespoons of melted butter, one fourth cup of sugar, and undying faith in yourself and your culinary abilities, the latter of which cannot be bought, but cultivated through sweat and perseverance.

 

The first thing you’ll need to do is visualize anyone that annoys you, boils you, enrages you. Good. Now harness that power: a seething pulse running down your forearms into the tendril muscles of your fingers. Take that package of graham crackers and beat it. Utterly and completely pulverize them into a fine powdery consistency. From dust we came, and to dust we shall all return. Or something or other. Let no pieces of whole cracker remain, lest your crust be tainted with inconsistency.

 

Now in the mixing bowl add your melted butter. It’s the liquid gold that will act as the glue for your foundation. Without it you just have powders dry enough to choke on. Decant your cracker dust and your sugar into the bowl and become the alchemist. Mix the ingredients, carefully infusing love and precision, until you have a crumb consistency and the foundation crust is malleable.

 

There you have it. Now your crust is ready to be pressed into the foundation that will become your cake. Now press and knead it into your pan until the crust crests on the sides as would a wave at high tide. It is beautiful, is it not?

 

Prompt: pick a very mundane topic and write it as dramatically as possible.

Recipe · Uncategorized

Vegan Lavender Lemon Cheesecake

Crust:

  • 9 Graham Crackers
  • 4 TBSP of Smart Balance vegan butter (melted)
  • ¼ cup of sugar

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Just do it.
  2. Place your graham crackers in a ziploc bag and beat the hell out of them for what they did. Continue abusing them until they reach a uniform fine crumb texture.
  3. Add the pulverised crumbs to a mixing bowl with the melted butter (and sugar if you wish) and mix until you achieve a crumbly texture. It should ball up when whisked.
  4. Spread uniformly in the springform pan, pressing down on the bottom and pinching up on the sides ½ to a full inch.

 

Filling:

  • 2 8oz containers of Tofutti cream cheese.
  • 1 cup of Lavender Simple Syrup (recipe here)
  • 4 tsp of lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • 1 TBSP of extra firm tofu

 

  1. In a mixing bowl, food processor, or blender, mix the cream cheese and lavender simple syrup until it’s soft.
  2. If in a blender or food processor, incorporate the rest of the ingredients on low. If in a mixing bowl add the lemon juice and salt, on low, crush the tofu and add it last making sure that it’s completely incorporated.
  3. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 45-50 minutes. The cake should be slightly jiggly when pulled from the oven.
  4. Allow the cheesecake to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for 4 hours.

 

Topping:

  • ½ cup lavender simple syrup
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ TBSP of cornstarch
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan on medium heat until the mixture boils. Let boil for 1 minute and remove from heat.
  2. Pour atop the cheesecake after it has been pulled from the oven, but before refrigeration.
  3. Garnish with lemon zest before serving.

Lavender 2.jpg

Fiction · Prompt · unedited

Russian Connection

“Hey,” Stan, the other closer, said looking up from the espresso machine. “I need you to go tell the guys on the patio to beat it and bring in the tables.”

 

I hunched over my broom and cocked an eyebrow. “Uh, you sure you can’t do it. Or can we get, like, a supervisor to do that.”

 

He sighed and turned to the hulking stainless steel machine. “Can you just do it? It’s part of the closing tasks.” He yawned and flicked the hot water switch, sending steam up.  

 

I put the broom to the side, untied my apron and tossed it over the counter. I could feel layers of sweat caked on my forehead. My day of learning designer latte’s and avoiding eye contact with indifferent customers came down to this: the good ol’ heave ho.

 

I pushed my way through the double glass doors into the dry night air. It felt good on the undersides of my arms. The air smelt like, well air, instead of grinding dark roast and heat. I saw the group at the end of the patio, flanked by the shrubs, illuminated by a single floodlight. Multiple coffee stirrers, espresso mugs, and a half-finished pack of cigarettes splayed out on the table. Only one looked up from his phone.

 

I tried to avoid confrontation, often stealing glances while I noisely dragged the metal furniture across the pavement. Several trips later, all that was left to collect were already occupied.  

 

I cleared my throat. “Er, hey guys, sorry about this but I need to put these chairs up. You’ve got to go.” It was the first time they all looked up at me. Who dared intrude on their night of chain smoking and fidgeting with plastic coffee stirrers?

 

The eldest of the three looked up and grinned. “No,” he said with a Russian inflection. “Is okay, I know the owner.” He waved me off as one would dismiss a ball boy.

 

I headed back inside to my broom to pick up where I had left off. Stan looked up from the register and peered outside. His tired eyes swept from the window to me. “Did you tell them they need to leave?”

 

“Yeah, but one guy said that they know the owner.”

 

“And?” Stan’s gaze fell back to the stack of ones he was thumbing his way through. “They, need to leave.”

 

I mechanically put the broom down unable to fathom why this responsibility fell to the new guy. Wasn’t this a manager’s job? I pushed my way through and approached the table. All three looked up once again. The eldest was still grinning, but the other two looked annoyed. “Sorry guys, but you really got to go. I just got word from my supervisor.” Perfect, I thought, diffuse responsibility. Go have a word with him if you want and leave me out of this.

 

“Listen, er…” The grinner said with a heavy inflection.

 

“Tom.”

 

“Listen Tom, the owner is a good friend of mine. We’re business partners. We go way back. You do what you’re told, and I like that. You go far this way. But, please. We finish our espresso then go, okay? I tell owner you took good care of us.” He turned to the two flanking scowls and said something in Russian and they softened, turning back to their cellphones. I internally shrugged and headed back inside.

 

Stan was waiting with his arms crossed. “Dude, what’s so hard about getting them out of here. Tell them you’ll call the cops.”

 

I thought of the two scowls flanking that devilish grin. “I don’t think that’s a great idea. Let’s just finish our stuff and leave them alone for now.”

 

Stan sighed, clearly disgusted with my lack of spine. We finished up and closed half an hour later. Outside, tucked under the corner of one of the espresso cups was a note for me. Thanks for the hospitality Tom, –Marco. I didn’t think much of it, tired as I was from my first full day.

 

I woke up the next morning to a buzz of my phone. Shit, I’m gonna be late, I thought. Nope. A message from the owner? My stomach dropped.

 

Hey Tom, I heard you met Marco last night. Thanks for taking care of him. Him and I go way back. He said that you have a good head on your shoulders. I know you’re new here, but I wanted to bump you up another dollar in pay. We’ll do that today.

 

I could feel the tension leave my shoulders. Weights upon weights had been lifted. Looks like the world was coming up Tom for once.  

 

Prompt: You just got hired at a hipster coffee shop, that just so happens to be a laundering front for the russian mafia.

Thoughts · unedited

Worst Feeling

You know what the worst feeling in the world is?

 

There are some pretty bad ones out there. Like someone you trusted betraying you, loss of someone figuratively or literally, stepping on tiny rocks or legos in the dead of night are all terrible experiences in their own right. But this feeling is more common than any of those. It happens to hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of people everyday.

 

I’m talking about having perfect hindsight and being able to spot all of your spelling errors or what have you the moment you submit something. God it’s hideous. You’re transplanted to the front of a classroom of laughing children. They can see right through you. Point out all of your mistakes. Who are these kids. You don’t even recognize them. Are they just B roll footage your brain drags up from the cellars of your memories. Oh god now they’re laughing at your thinning hair. What is going on here?  God you’re such an idiot. Maybe you shouldn’t make so many typo’s. Ahem– thank’s self-conscious stream of consciousness.

 

It’s kind of crazy how sharp one’s eyes become the second that you look at something you submit something. No matter how many times you read it over, forward, backward, out loud to yourself– you almost always find something new. You think it has something to do with high stakes game of perfection that one’s brain plays? When the stakes are high and your cursor is flashing above the submit button, there are just some things you absolutely won’t catch some mistakes or missing words. Hitting that button flips a switch– and suddenly you’re a goddamn managing editor.

 

I don’t want to reread this so I’ll post it immediately and then find my errors.

 

EDIT: Don’t worry folks. I totally found a bunch. But for posterity’s sake, they’re staying up.

 

Fiction · Prompt · unedited

Gin Nap.

Photo Prompt: courtesy of redditor u/boravsbora

 

The time for kid gloves had come and gone. Mary refused to see me, John Straker had bested me once again, and the bottle had kicked me to the curb once again. The city was wide awake, hopped up on speed and nightlife, when I came to behind the dumpster in that little alley. A small chinese man, dressed in white and a smeared apron prodded me awake.

 

“Must go,” he said, motioning with his hands. “You,” his index finger jabbed at my chest. “Must leave,” his arm swept around towards the rift in the buildings.

 

I nodded, stood, and steadied myself against the slick brick wall behind me. A chilly breeze blew against my bare chest as I staggered towards the lights and sounds. I wondered what had happened to my jacket and wallet; probably up and walked away during my gin nap.

 

First things first, I thought, where am I? I looked right then left, seeing nothing but the fleeting floods of headlights against the wet sidewalks of passing taxis. I decided to head left and started pounding pavement. A pain shot up my leg. Another reminder of my meeting with Straker and his boys. Best not let me catch you snooping around this club again Dale. Next time you won’t be leaving.

 

Twenty feet ahead, a man was hailing a cab. I tried projecting myself before he could be whisked away; another shadow in the night.

 

“Say, pal” I said. “What street is this?”

 

I must have been worse for ware. He looked at me like one looks at spoiled meat. Had he not had his hand up he might have pinched his nose. “38th and 17.” He said stepping off the curb.

 

I thanked him, still staggering forward. He nodded and vanished into the steady traffic. 38th and 17th, I thought, half a kilometer ‘till the office. I crossed my arms in front of my chest trying to fend off some the colder gusts. I would be no use to Mary if I got pneumonia. One foot then the other, I started to retrace the money, the lies, the rumors. Synapses started firing like the neon lights reflecting off billowing manhole steam. Straker and Mary, the poor girl. There was no time to waste, Straker knew I was on to him. The trail was hot. White hot.   

Recipe

Maple Walnut Cheesecake

Things you’ll need besides regular kitchen appliances:

 

  • Blender, food processor, or electric mixer.
  • Springform pan.

 

The Crust:

  • Nine (9) Graham Crackers
  • Four (4) TBSP of melted butter
  • Optional One quarter (¼) cup of maple or granulated sugar

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Just do it.
  2. Place your graham crackers in a ziploc bag and beat the hell out of them for what they did. Continue abusing them until they reach a uniform fine crumb texture.
  3. Add the pulverised crumbs to a mixing bowl with the melted butter (and sugar if you wish) and mix until you achieve a crumbly texture. It should ball up when whisked.
  4. Spread uniformly in the springform pan, pressing down on the bottom and pinching up on the sides ½ to a full inch.

 

The Filling:

  • Twenty four (24) oz of softened cream cheese (not that whipped garbage either)
  • Four (4) eggs
  • One (1) cup of REAL maple syrup (I prefer dark VT grade-A dark.)  

 

  1. In a mixing bowl, food processor, or blender, mix the cream cheese until it’s soft.
  2. If in a blender or food processor, incorporate the maple syrup and the eggs at once and mix until smooth.
  3. If in a mixing bowl, add the maple syrup first and the eggs one at a time on low until the filling is smooth and uniform.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 45-50 minutes. The cake should be slightly jiggly when pulled from the oven.
  5. Allow the cheesecake to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for four (4) hours.  
  6. Pop it out of your springform pan. Do not cut it while it’s on the bottom of the pan you animal. That’s how you ruin it.

 

Topping:

  • Walnuts
  • More of that sweet, sweet syrup — 4oz

 

  1. Chop your walnuts into respectable pieces. And artistically top the cheesecake with them after refrigeration.
  2. Drizzle the syrup over the top and dazzle your friends with some dope cheesecake. And, obviously share this thing.

Maple Walnut 1