This is the page where I show off my writing skills (or lack thereof) for all the world to see and marvel at (or scoff.)
The works reproduced here have all been previously published. I’ll be replacing them on a regular basis, depending on the feedback I get. So, please, I ask that you take the time to comment. Writers live enough in our own heads as it is. We need either the acclamation or cold water in the face to keep on the straight and narrow.
This is a flash fiction piece that was published in Coast Lines 2, the second anthology of the Puerto Vallarta Writers Group. Note: The story was voted on blindly by a number of readers, most of whom are not in the PVWG.
Pablo Gets a Surprise
Pablo watched the scene with his usual detachment.
He’d been tending bar at Cantina La Playa for ten years, and he’d seen the same thing more times than he could count. It was an old story; as old as mankind.
At first, he’d tried to help, but his warnings usually fell on deaf ears.
People are determined to make fools of themselves, he thought, and eventually stopped trying. He was paid to serve drinks, and had learned to keep his mouth shut and his advice to himself. He was content now with being only a sounding board, limiting his responses to the kind of commiseration expected of a bartender. The only advice anyone wanted was the kind that justified his own foolishness.
He knew it was going down the minute Jose walked in and spotted the middle aged gringa sitting alone at the end of the bar, nursing a margarita, flavoring the salt on the rim of the glass with her sadness.
Pablo hadn’t seen him before, but he recognized him instantly. He was a carbon copy of all the other machistos who preyed on such women. He wore a T-shirt that barely fell below his nipples, allowing the bulging muscles of his chest and abdomen to work their magic. He looked to be about twenty-two, and his eyes were the eyes of a hunter. He wasted no time, but immediately sat down next to her.
“Hello, lovely lady.” He said, as he looked directly into her eyes. “Why do you look so sad on such a fine and beautiful day?”
She was gone instantly. She smiled the kind of sudden, eager smile that made Pablo’s heart break. He knew she was lost.
“Oh, I’m not sad at all. I’ve just gotten even with my cheating husband, and I’m down here celebrating.”
Jose’s face assumed a worried look.
“You did not kill him, I hope, it would be a shame for such a beautiful woman to spend her life in prison.”
Her forced laughter filled the tavern.
“Oh no, nothing like that, but it will be many years before he makes his money back.” Her eyes suddenly turned hard, and as cold as the ice in her drink. “The bastard.” She added, and she looked Jose up and down, her anger transforming into lust.
“Can I buy you a drink?” She asked. A husky note crept into her voice.
“Thank you, it is a hot day. A cold beer would be nice.”
She turned to Pablo. “Bartender, a beer for. . . ”
“Jose.” He answered the unspoken question, and looked at Pablo as though daring him to say anything. “Corona con limon, por favor.”
Pablo watched as they retired to a table and began a spirited conversation. He couldn’t hear what they were saying but he didn’t have to, he’d heard it too many times before. He was not surprised when they walked out less than half an hour later, arm in arm, she practically plastering herself against his muscular body.
He saw them many times again during the next two weeks, and he often saw them walking hand in hand along the beach when they weren’t drinking in the Cantina. He entertained the thought that this time he might have been wrong, until Jose walked in alone one day and sat down next to another middle-aged gringa with sad eyes.
This time, he bought the drinks and paid from a wad of bills that he pulled from his pocket.
For the next few months, Jose was a regular customer. There was always a supply of sad-eyed women, and the wad of bills grew larger. Jose’s wardrobe grew as well, and now nicely tailored outfits replaced the T-shirt. Jose exuded success.
One day, another gringa walked into the bar, and Jose was on her in a flash. It was the same old story, and Pablo just shrugged his shoulders; it was none of his business, after all.
After several days, they came in again, only this time, after a few minutes, the woman waved to someone outside the window.
Shortly, the Cantina was filled with policia, one of whom grabbed Jose by a muscular, but stylishly clad shoulder, slapped handcuffs on him, and marched him out of the bar and into a waiting pickup.
The woman watched them leave, a satisfied smile on her face. As the pickup pulled away, she approached the bar and handed Pablo a stack of business cards.
“Here. You might want to hand these out to every middle-aged Americana who comes in here and meets a nice young man.”
As she walked out, Pablo looked at the cards.
Specializing in fraud against women
It was the first time he’d really laughed in a long while.
This next story was in response to a writing prompt, “If the furniture could talk.”
An Argument against Eclecticism
“Help!” cried the silver teaspoon. “Can somebody please help me?”
A babble of sounds followed this forlorn plea as the rest of the furnishings responded to the obviously heartfelt supplication.
“Well, do stop going on shouting, and tell us where you are and what ever is the matter?”
The matronly Victorian tones of the sofa always seemed to have a calming effect, and the hub-bub soon died down.
“Oui, s’il vous plait.”
The seductive notes of the elegant French end-table were the next to be heard clearly, and they were full of concern.
“Vere are you, you poor leettle zing?”
“I’m here, under the coffee table.”
“That’s impossible.” rang out the booming laugh of the solid oak tree trunk that had been cleverly fashioned into a table. “I go all the way to the floor, remember. It took three men just to carry me in here, so how can you be under me?”
“I don’t know. Just lucky, I guess. There’s some kind of space between you and the floor right here, and I seem to have become lodged in it.”
“Vell, you needn’t vorry so very vehemently, und shtop vining.” clucked the Cuckoo clock. “In exactly eight hours, tventy minutes und fifteen zeconds, Madam vill be coming in to clean up after ze party, vich lasted, by ze vay, four hours, forty tree minutes, und ten zeconds, ven dat awful Harriet Vilson finally ztumbled out ze door, betrunken, as usual.”
“Might I be allowed to point out the obvious flaw in your argument.”
This was from the elegantly carved Israeli olive-wood tripod.
“As our friend, the coffee table has pointed out, he is too large to be easily moved, so it would seem that, if the teaspoon is as hidden as he claims, he will go unnoticed.”
“That’s just like you.” piped up the brass Arab coffeepot, ensconced by geographic proximity on the top of the Israeli tripod. “Always throwing roadblocks in the way of finding a solution.”
“Well, if you would get off my back and get down here on the table with me, maybe we could work it out, but I ask you if you can seriously dispute the facts.”
“Gentlemen, gentlemen.” expostulated the American walnut sideboard. “This is no time for petty arguments and name-calling. We are faced with a serious problem, and we must deal seriously with it. This is no time for partisan squabbling.”
“Vye, Vye.” echoed the twin Greek lamps on the end-tables.
“As much as I hate to admit it,” grumbled the Turkish rug, “and as rare as it is, the Zionist tripod speaks the truth.”
“And what would you know about truth?” shouted the Armenian tapestry.
At this, the room broke again into an uproar, and even the Victorian sofa could not calm things down.
The Irish porcelain statuettes began arguing with the English oak bookcase, and the bagpipe hanging from a hook in the hallway bellowed its own complaints. The rock brought from Gibraltar did not remain silent either, and the bookcase was having trouble shouting down his colonial opponents.
At the other end of the room, the Italian banquette, was having it out with the early American love seat about the equality of female furniture, and whether or not it was simply to be used for sexual pleasure alone. To be fair, the love seat was in a high state of excitation having hosted the amorous gropings of a pair of intoxicated lovers, neither of which was married to the other.
“You are not the only one who can complain, my dear.” huffed the sofa. “Their spouses were doing it on me. How utterly shameless. How intolerably uncouth.”
“Oh, stuff it, bitch.” yelled the African ebony lamp table. “Look at you, you’re about to come apart at the seams. They should have gotten rid of you a long time ago, and brought in one of those hip, young things from Scandinavia. Yeah, one of them ash blondes with leather cushions and all slung back. She wouldn’t mind giving ‘em a ride.”
“Hmph.” rejoined the sofa. “Nowhere near as comfortable, I’m sure.”
The books in the bookshelf got into it too, but in a decidedly more intellectual fashion, though they tended to be as loud, if not as violent. Moby Dick was in a particularly ugly row with the Greenpeace Handbook, when The Old Man and the Sea erupted in fury at The Compleat Angler.
“You call that fishing?’ He was heard to shout.
Das Kapital was yellng at The Great Gatsby, while Atlas Shrugged tossed in some zingers towards The Communist Manifesto. The Feminine Mystique was having a go at it with Fanny Hill, and Gone with the Wind was in a heated discussion with Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
The uproar was continuing unabated, when suddenly, the lights went on and Madam was looking into the room.
That was Sir’s voice coming from the bedroom.
“Oh, nothing. I just thought I heard some noise in here, but there’s only the furniture.”
The lights went out again.
“Help?” cried the silver teaspoon.