fiction, musician, story, writer, writing

Alors On Danse

Synopsis: An assassin finds an all too familiar mark on her path to freedom. Will she find a way to dance around the wrongs of her past? (Written for NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Contest)

Sophie skipped the queue into Le Romeo, a ghost in white sequins, feet choked by stilettos. Her eyes were struggling to stay open under the weight of false eyelashes. If she was successful tonight, her servitude would end. She knew he was not far behind her though. He had been following her since she boarded the Metro for Saint-Germain-​des-Prés.  

She ordered the rare Sancerre at the bar as instructed, checking her back before the glass and small envelope appeared. The discotheque lights bounced off her sequins in way she hoped did not make her a beacon for trouble. Her long red hair was under a sleek black wig, removing any trace of herself from this scene. Stromae’s “Alors On Danse” thrummed in the background, calling forward her not-too-distant past, the one that brought her to this critical moment.

In her younger days, she was on the dance floor behind her, a slender, exotic Irish American in Paris. Her name was Cara. That was until she chose the wrong lover and saw things that shackled her. Tonight, she would be free if she remained undiscovered.

She opened the envelope and gasped, the now throbbing bass muffling her. She followed the length of his beautiful body in the picture from his wavy jet-black hair down to his favorite black leather shoes, polished to perfection. She quickly put the photo in her clutch, housing a .22. Her green eyes, shadowed by a billowy black kohl, scanned the floor, and she found him in the distance.

He looked the same, sculpted in a lanky, carefree way. His teeth caught the lights like her sequins. She couldn’t see the lines of age from this distance. Would he know her when she tried to get close? She was wearing the perfume he gave her, the last drops left in the finely crafted glass bottle. How could she be so stupid, and what had he done to end up a mark? She wanted to stand there all night watching him and then run, but the man who had been following her was here. He was stupid enough to cause a commotion with somebody upon entering, alerting her to his presence.

Sophie knew she had been a fool. They never intended to set her free. The man was here to finish her as soon as she finished Julien, her once beloved.

So, she did what an assassin had to do, she glided to the dance floor, hid in the glistening bodies, and danced her way closer to Julien, closing her eyes if only to escape in her head.

She knew her assassin was watching her, half turned on, half hungry for the kill. She had become a bad person through association but nothing like these wolves. This life was not her choice. She was trying to stay alive, long ago discarded by the lover who ensnared her but still marginally useful to him. Her beauty made an excellent trap, and her only solace was that her marks were horrible human beings. Not Julien though.

She slid into Julien, careful to keep her head lowered so as not to make eye contact, pretending to be sultry and mysterious. He had liked this when they first met. And it worked again. He drew close, but she could feel a hesitation in his limbs.

Their bodies snaked together, the music forming an electric fence around them.

“What is your name?” He tickled her ear in English.

She could not give this away. This had to be done quickly, one chance at success. Her intended killer was distracted by a dark beauty grinding up to him.

Sophie spoke in a husky French accent, asking Julien to follow her to a quiet corner. He nodded, letting her lead the way. He grabbed her hand and wound his fingers tightly into hers, and his touch was too familiar. He could not know her anymore. It would make this impossible. She was at fault for all of this, leaving him for another man, putting them both in danger here tonight. What a cruel twist for Claude to make this her final duty to him. She would willingly let herself be killed over killing Julien, but with her killer closing in, she had a new plan.

She pulled Julien into the first door she could find off a back hall to the discotheque. As soon as the pair entered what was a storage room, Julien grabbed her and kissed her, pulling off her wig, letting loose an uncontrolled stream of red curls. She pushed him back towards a shelving unit, and took her shot, knowing exactly where to aim, watching his face fall as he called out her real name before his body crumpled to the ground.

Sophie slid out into the hall, her assassin’s wide, shiny forehead making its way towards her. She drew, aimed, and hit her second mark for the night and exited to screams and chaos. She discarded her stilettos on the streets of Paris, glistening with spring rain, and ran.

#

“Depechez-vous, Gloria!” her boss implored as the line of customers at the popular patisserie burst. Gloria had only lived here a few months and was already longing for the quiet of the off seasons.

She did not see when he walked in, but other women were noticing, causing an unsettling titter, grown schoolgirls losing themselves over a handsome boy. She looked up and saw what the ruckus was about. It was Julien. It had worked.

As he smiled at her, patiently awaiting his turn in line, he reached into the pocket of his perfectly pressed resort shirt and pulled something out. It was a crushed metal shoe polish tin, now catching the soft light of the shop. Gloria could hear the words of “Alors On Danse” in her mind. She removed her apron and untucked herself from behind the counter, causing a ruckus of French swear words from her manager and spoiled customers. They wound their fingers together and ran. 

fiction, musician, story, writer, writing

Zombie Road Trip: Part I

Part I: All Good Zombie Stories Should Start on a Boat

Note: This will be a story in parts. Body parts.

“Are you okay?” I said as I brushed his shaggy brown hair back from his eyes, slightly greased after his refusal to take a shower so early in the morning. He did not like showers as a rule. He was a teen boy.

He grimaced, “Mom, stop.” He stayed hunched over the railing of the boat, staring down into the vast waters of Lake Michigan he just christened with his breakfast.

“I told you not to play in the arcade. You know you get motion sick. The fresh air out here is best. Or, we could have played bingo in the main cabin with the breeze.”

“Okay, okay. Bingo is for Boomers. How much longer until we get to Wisconsin?”

“Two hours or so. You should feel better soon though. You may feel better faster if you adjust your attitude.” As I said that, Zavier turned green again and made noises that scared away the remaining ferry passengers within less than 10 feet of us.

“Oh my God, mom. We could have driven like normal people,” he sassed in between terrible retching spells.

I felt bad that our epic road trip across Lake Michigan and Wisconsin to see Metallica in Minneapolis was beginning this way, but I told him not to play those games. Why would you stand for hours in a dank, smelly arcade while on a massive boat on an adventure across the greatest of lakes? I loved this boy, but I did not understand him these days. I started to rub his back, and he let me, giving into the motherly comfort with a roll of his eyes and stomach.

Between the swish of waves, the hum of ferry engine, and the casual chatter of guests distancing themselves from our sick scene, I started to hear the news from multiple TVs in the dining room off our deck. A male newscaster’s voice caught my attention. It was filled with a palpable panic that transcended the typical sensational panic all major network newscasters, in my opinion, seemed to brandish like a loaded gun of nonsense. I recognized the voice to be that of Jim Godwin, the most sensational of the sensationalists.

“We are now receiving reports from ten major cities across the country that people are falling horrifically ill. The spread of the disease is making people do horrible things from illness-related psychoses, things I cannot describe on air. Get your children, get your guns, and get inside….”­

Suddenly, Jim was cut off, and a softer, more relaxed female voice began, “Please excuse Jim. His family is one of the cities, St. Louis, that seems to have fallen ill from this rapidly spreading flu. Be sure to take some extra vitamin C and enjoy the summer sun. I am Becky Gladwell, and I will be filling in indefinitely for Jim as he gets an unpaid break to see his family.”

I play this very moment back over in my head. I hated that ­news network. Jim was a fool. On that very day we crossed Lake Michigan on the road trip to end all road trips, I should have realized that Jim was telling the truth for once. Instead, I just rolled my eyes, taking my son’s best move, and blocked babbling Becky out. I rubbed my son’s back some more as he started to return to a normal color from the love of a good mother, me, and hummed “Enter Sandman” like everything was good. This was my first mistake.

banjo, musician, poetry, story, writer, writing

The Banjo Cure

A banjo is an excellent story writer. It’s a 5-string choose your own adventure. It’s a thriller. It’s the romance writer of stringed instruments. Go down the neck, and you get some science fiction and fantasy sounds…the bard of a space court. It’s African poetry. It’s a medical drama about a woman needing a musical cure for a rough week. The banjo is a story, and it is the cure.

musician, poetry, writer, writing

The Storm

“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”    ― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

It starts with the rhythmic tapping of the first drops

On the roof from which you touched the stars

There is a grumble in the sky, a call to action on the horizon

And electricity traces the line of your quickening pulse

Today will be different. Today is the storm.

The dark clouds are now pushing up to your horizon,

Making you search for shelter in the eyes of the unaware

They are in their own storm, unable to bear witness to yours

You yell out while knowing you have to be your own shelter

You were made for this. Today is your day.

Now comes the torrent, the lightning, unforgiving noise

The deluge hydrates the landscape of your soul

While eroding the surface, a runoff of who you were

Your foundation shakes with each strike and boom

Today is terrifying. Today is your storm.

The minutes pass, or maybe the hours, or the years

The storm chooses how long it stays and batters what was

And your choice is to weather it, a stalwart sailor, or wash away

When you think it will stay forever, sunshine finds the crack in the clouds

The storm is done. You are the sunshine, begun anew.

musician

Winter’s Wind

A thousand black-winged dots above the horizon

Cut through the clouds

On an icicle blowing wind

Forming glass of water, nature’s sculpture

Shall they reach the sun above five more horizons?

Or shall they fall into the winter of the soul ?

Their dark wings collapsing in peace

For respite in the silence minus the whistle of that very same wind

musician, writer

Vegan Banana Ginger Muffins

Preheat oven to 350.

Wet Mix:

2 large ripe bananas mashed

1 tsp. vanilla

2 snack containers of unsweetened, organic applesauce

¼ cup of oat milk (or other non-dairy milk)

3 teaspoons of minced ginger (Ginger People brand is yummy)

Dry mix:

2 cups of unbleached, organic all-purpose flour (I love baking with Bob’s Red Mill)

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

2 teaspoons cloves

2 tablespoons cinnamon

3 teaspoons of ground ginger

½ cup organic cane sugar

1 cup of organic brown sugar

(mix this together well so everything is distributed well)

Slowly stir the wet ingredients by hand into the dry bowl. Mixture should not be runny but also not too thick that it is not easily spooned into muffin pan.

I sprayed a mini muffin container with a light coat of coconut oil spray and baked at 350 for 25-30 minutes. As the muffins were cooling, I sprinkled cacao powder lightly over them.

Pan used:

https://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/nordic-ware-harvest-delights-bitelet-pan/?pkey=s%7Cseasonal%20pan%7C61

musician

The Chemistry of Snow

Megan let the snowflakes glide and melt on her tongue, each crystal an icy piercing balancing the heat her body felt immersed in the hot tub, creating an equilibrium. It was early November, and deep snow usually did not arrive in Michigan until later in the month, but everything was unusual right now. It was their tenth anniversary, and as she looked across the hot tub at his smiling face, she remembered the day they met. Every line in his face told their story, and she could see a patch of his skin still smooth and carefree from their youth.

They met after the chemistry lab she failed, on another deep snow kind of day. It was the day they would get eight inches of snow on the campus of Michigan State University.

She was catching snowflakes on her tongue when David walked up behind her and said, “You know that you are probably swallowing chemicals from the atmosphere with each snowflake you eat, right?”

“I don’t care. I just failed my chemistry lab. I am probably poisoned with chemicals from that. And for what? An F?”

“I know. I sit three tables behind you, and I saw about six things you did wrong to get you that F.”

Megan narrowed her eyes at the curly haired, lightly bearded, Doc Marten wearing misfit now face to face with her. He struck her as Iggy Pop crossed with Screech from Saved by the Bell. He gave off positive energy, a proton with hands in mittens swaying wildly.

“If I was doing everything so wrong, then why didn’t you step in to help, genius?” Megan put her hands on her hips and watched as her flirt magic made the boy more awkward than he started. She was more like an electron.

He lifted one side of his generous lips in a crooked smile. “You don’t seem like the kind of girl who wants help. You strike me as a live and learn scientist. This is probably the creepy point where I should also admit that it is fun to just watch you. I’m David…David Gheen.”

“Megan Lackey. David the Creeper, would you like to walk with me in the snow and get slightly drunk in my dorm room talking about what I’m going to do with my life now that I’m ­a chemistry failure?”

“It’s like my dream came true.”

“You probably should have saved that for the second hookup, but I’ll still take you with me today.”

They locked hands; free radicals now paired. The snow whipped their faces as they walked, and their bodies drew closer, creating a heat catalyst for the attraction chemistry between two lonely people. He smelled like soap and coffee, and she smelled like strawberries from the shampoo she used that morning. In her room, they drank cheap red wine, watched Pink Floyd’s The Wall, listened to Nirvana, and welcomed the morning in bed together. It was the first day of the rest of the chemical reaction that would keep them together until it was not strong enough.

They married the November after they graduated from Michigan State. It snowed so badly that day it kept the flights of their guests grounded. It was their addition reaction during an absolute zero day. They earned their doctorates together on the banks of the Red Cedar River and refused to leave the campus of Michigan State until they were made professors, becoming reagents in the experiment of everyday life. They did research, taught, and laughed over expensive red wine on a blanket on campus grounds. Sometimes making out as if they were still students, a covalent bond in a divorce and run world.

Megan now sat staring at David’s face, the snowflakes too heavy for her tongue, their crystalline structure disintegrating like her and David would when their bond could not fix everything.

“I need you to be okay, David. You have to move forward with this.”

“I refuse to be an experiment. You know that. I thought we were on the same page. I’m tired.”

“You don’t get to quit. There is more we can try. We made all of this together, and I…I mean we need you to see it through.”

They were a few feet apart with angry, free-floating energy between them, wayward molecules not connecting. 

“You can do this. I know you can, Megan. I will always be with you even if this can’t be fixed.”

Megan’s memories and David’s face floated from her in the steam rising from their hot tub. It had been 10 years since she felt at equilibrium. Today was the anniversary of when their bond abruptly broke. A reaction had started inside of her the last time David made love to her before cancer decimated his body and soft, curly hair. Before receiving the call to say goodbye, she dropped a lab beaker and sliced her hand open. She showed up at the hospital, her hand wrapped in a scarf they bought in Italy at a conference of world-renowned chemists.

He smiled, sparks of yellow still igniting his brown eyes. “Remember the day you failed your lab?”

“How could I forget?” Her throat burned from holding in a sob. He placed his hand on her arching belly, and his exothermic warmth caused a kick.

“The worst thing you did was not measuring your reagents precisely, and the best thing you did was taking me back to your dorm room. You were my most perfect yield.”

Before Megan could tease him, his beautiful particles, the ones she tried so desperately to put back together for the last year, found their permanent resting state.

Megan returned to the present, feeling the smack of a frigid, solid state orb against her cheek. It was a perfectly packed snowball which then hit the hot water in the tub and disappeared as if its matter never existed. The unmitigated giggles of a boy followed…her curly haired, brown-eyed son, every bit as kinetic as David.